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If he sort of thing Bill Brooks writes about is common why have we never heard about an Alamy contibutor being caught up in such events?

 

Or have we heard about it?

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52 minutes ago, Bill Brooks said:

How many photographers have been sued? Probably very few, as that is not how it works.

 

We have no idea because if anyone threatening to sue approaches Alamy and the photographer directly, and the parties settle out of court to save those hassles, then we don't know how many of these events have happened because the parties tend to also sign non-disclosure agreements.  Alamy has refused to give any numbers on this. 

 

My guess is that the Big Issue incident, where cropping to use a face from another photo was a pretty clear violation of copyright, settled out of court, with non-disclosure agreements, which is why nobody heard one way or the other how that played out, just that it didn't play out in court.   And Alamy may have had some reason or reasons for asking all of us who'd photographed painting to mark them editorial only, and the recent "if you photograph an album cover, it must be in context -- the record playing on a turntable or being removed from the sleeve by someone."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by MizBrown
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Just now, MizBrown said:

 

We have no idea because if anyone threatening to sue approaches Alamy and the photographer directly, and the parties settle out of court to save those hassles, then we don't know how many of these events have happened because the parties tend to also sign non-disclosure agreements.  Alamy has refused to give any numbers on this. 

 

My guess is that the Big Issue incident, where cropping to use a face from another photo was a pretty clear violation of copyright, settled out of court, with non-disclosure agreements, which is why nobody heard one way or the other how that played out, just that it didn't play out in court.   And Alamy may have had some reason or reasons for asking all of us who'd photographed painting to mark them editorial only, and the recent "if you photograph an album cover, it must be in context."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe so but you would think that if that was happening there would be discussion of it and that it would have a much higher profile - even if simply to justify the contract.

 

We do need this information.

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24 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

 

Since when have we been asked to take liability for mistakes Alamy or its distributors might make? Or have I misunderstood the new contract?

 

Mark

 

 

They're going to redraft the contract, because these clauses are 'open to interpretation' (a facility which keeps lawyers in clover)

4.1.5. except for any rights that have previously been licensed or granted in relation to the Content, there is not and will not be during the term of this Contract, be any limitation or restriction on Alamy’s ability to license the Content;

4.1.6. any use or exploitation of the Content by Alamy, a Customer or a Distributor will not be, or be deemed to be indecent, obscene, defamatory, insulting, racist, offensive, indecent, vulgar or violate publicity rights anywhere in the world.

4.4. You will ensure that all Metadata including, without limitation, any and all other information pertaining to the Content: (i) is and will remain accurate and factually correct;

5.1 You will indemnify, defend (at the request of Alamy) and hold Alamy and its affiliates, Customers, Distributors, sub-licensees and assigns (the “Indemnified Parties”) harmless against any and all claims, damages, liabilities, losses, costs and expenses (including reasonable legal expenses) which any of the Indemnified Parties incur arising from or in in relation to: (i) any claim that the Content infringes any third party’s rights including but not limited to any third party trademark, copyright, moral rights or other intellectual property rights, or any right of privacy or publicity; (ii) any use, exploitation or distribution of the Content by the Indemnified Parties;

 

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9 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

They need to abide by their non-disclosure agreements.  Sigh.

 

 

 

Surely it is possible to highlight the issue in a general way without referring to any specifics. If stock agencies were encountering this as a frequent problem I think they would be making a lot of noise about it.

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12 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

 

It would depend on where I was sitting in the stadium.

 

This is the smart answer...

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32 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

 

We have no idea because if anyone threatening to sue approaches Alamy and the photographer directly, and the parties settle out of court to save those hassles, then we don't know how many of these events have happened because the parties tend to also sign non-disclosure agreements.  Alamy has refused to give any numbers on this. 

 

My guess is that the Big Issue incident, where cropping to use a face from another photo was a pretty clear violation of copyright, settled out of court, with non-disclosure agreements, which is why nobody heard one way or the other how that played out, just that it didn't play out in court.   And Alamy may have had some reason or reasons for asking all of us who'd photographed painting to mark them editorial only, and the recent "if you photograph an album cover, it must be in context -- the record playing on a turntable or being removed from the sleeve by someone."

 

 

 

Just wondering where you read the Alamy request about photographing record album covers. I don't remember seeing that anywhere.

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10 hours ago, Doc said:

None of us can tell anyone else what to do, as we are in different positions. However we can all decide what we ourselves are going to do.

For me, firstly I am waiting to see what comes back from Alamy. Nothing to be lost at this point by waiting for that. Sadly, as we have seen in the recent past, when new contracts are proposed, violently objected to by us, and then made more benign, they may not then last very long. On the other hand, the partial reversal last time (retain 50% for exclusive images) was decided by the old Alamy management, and this is now PA. They may be less inclined to go back on contract decisions within a year or so which they themselves have made.

In the meantime however this is what I have been doing:

 

1. I have ticked the "for editorial use only" box in the appropriate images. In my collection of 27K photos, the vast majority have people in, so I am guessing c. 20-22K will need that doing. Like John in Vancouver I am not certain how helpful that will be, as all my images have always been marked correctly for model/property releases etc. Interestingly I asked Alamy if they could mark all my images as "for editorial use only" as I thought it would be easier to untick that box on 7K images, rather than to tick it on 20K images. Unfortunately when Alamy did this for me (very quickly) they put a red padlock on all the restrictions so I could not go through and take the  editorial restriction off the 7K or so images which didn't need it. So I asked them to take the tick off the editorial only box, and I am going through making all images editorial use only initially, and will then go through and remove it from the ones which don't need it. This will take some time.

 

2. I have removed myself from all distributors. I am very concerned that apparently distributors may not abide by our restrictions, leaving me more open to legal problems. Normally you can only withdraw in April but at the moment this appears to have been extended.

 

3. I will be going through and removing images which might possibly leave me more open to being sued/having to pay Alamys' legal charges. 

 

4. Although I have never sold any images except through Alamy, I will at some point ask them to make my collection non-exclusive, as with these changes and the ever-reducing cost at which they are selling images I am not going to be able to re-attain the $25K threshold for 50% reimbursement.

 

5. I have taken out some Professional Indemnity insurance, which may or may not work against Alamy's contract but will make me feel a bit better.

 

I have invested 17 years and 27K images in Alamys' collection, and both I and Alamy have done well out of it. I, like many others with large longstanding collections do not want to throw that all away, but like everyone I am very concerned about legal fees being dumped on me, especially when I might have known nothing about it till it happens. 

It would be very interesting, and useful I think to many of us, to know how many times Alamy and Alamy photogs have actually been sued in the last say 10 years. I have asked this question of Alamy, but was told that they could not respond due to confidentiality issues. I am not sure how that applies to just giving us the numbers of occasions. My suspicion is it is very small numbers.

 

There are still some very good people working at Alamy, but they must recognise that explaining "intentions" of complicated legal paragraphs is simply not enough. The wording must be changed to reflect this more accurately.

 

Alamy - we await your proposed changes.

 

Kumar

 

 

Kumar:

 

A good outline of steps which I too will have to take, though not in the same sequence.  Probably 98+% of my 32,000 images are marked as exclusive to Alamy, thanks to their generous offer of 2019 to maintain our 50% commission rate if we withdrew our images from all other agencies.  (Thanks, Alamy!).  Those that aren't exclusive are artworks of various kinds designated as non-exclusive by Alamy fiat.  So I'll have to start by designating all images as non-exclusive, to insure I don't get billed for legal charges they incur if they chase an "infringement" that was previously legally licensed through another agency or my own website.  Removing images from distributors is probably the next step and needs to be considered carefully.  Japanese sales get some of the highest prices I get.   That would be a painful loss.  Distributor sales are probably about 20% of my sales revenue, another painful loss.  But it seems to me that any legal action against us for "infringement of privacy" or other complaints are most likely to arise in the US, UK, or Europe and are rather unlikely to arise in other countries of the world.  I've had professional liability insurance for years but it will not cover me for acts committed by unknown people over whom I have no influence (that includes Alamy management). So stopping sales through distributors may not actually reduce significantly the risk Alamy is asking us to assume.  Opting out of European sales could result in a serious reduction in revenue.  So the best protection seems to be deleting images of people and property that could conceivably be objects of complaint.  That will be a time-consuming process, but may be the only course left if some of us choose to remain with Alamy.  With 255,000,000 images in their collection now, will they even notice or care?  Over time the quality of new submissions to Alamy will decline as serious and talented photographers no longer bother to submit. Alamy will have a great collection of landscapes, flowers, and maybe some birds and wild animals.  It appears that Alamy management cannot see far enough into the future to understand the inevitable consequences of their current actions.  

 

Ollie

 

 

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13 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

 

Surely it is possible to highlight the issue in a general way without referring to any specifics. If stock agencies were encountering this as a frequent problem I think they would be making a lot of noise about it.

They took down a number of photos of murals and they're asked us not to take photos that were just of the art work.  And recently, they've asked us not to photograph album covers without some sort of surrounding scene.   I suspect there are some stories involved. 

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1 minute ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Just wondering where you read the Alamy request about photographing record album covers. I don't remember seeing that anywhere.

 

Someone quoted Alamy's reply to them.   Not something Alamy sent out at large.  "one of us" 

 

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Just now, MizBrown said:

 

Someone quoted Alamy's reply to them.   Not something Alamy sent out at large.  "one of us" 

 

 

Thanks. I searched the forums but couldn't find anything else about album covers. However, the search function doesn't seem to work very well.

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4 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Just wondering where you read the Alamy request about photographing record album covers. I don't remember seeing that anywhere.

 

Someone quoted a letter from Alamy Contributor relations in a thread "Opinon of record album/book...."  

"We’ve checked this with our legal team and this image can only be marked as exclusive if you are the original creator, which would either be the original artist/photographer of the cover art, David Bowie or the record label or a combination of all three.

Secondly as there’s no context to the image at all it could be seen as an infringement by whoever owns the copyright to the original – if there was wider context such as being pulled out of the record sleeve or by a record player it would have more context.

Due to the legal issues this image could cause, we will delete it unless you have proof of the relevant permission.

Alamy Contributor Relations"

 

Other comments in that thread are worth looking at.   My instincts were to create scenes with props related to authors.  If I reshoot book covers, that's what I'll do.

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Posted (edited)

Context is all. 🙄  The thread is "Opinion on record album/book image backgrounds."

Edited by MizBrown
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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

 

Someone quoted a letter from Alamy Contributor relations in a thread "Opinon of record album/book...."  

"We’ve checked this with our legal team and this image can only be marked as exclusive if you are the original creator, which would either be the original artist/photographer of the cover art, David Bowie or the record label or a combination of all three.

Secondly as there’s no context to the image at all it could be seen as an infringement by whoever owns the copyright to the original – if there was wider context such as being pulled out of the record sleeve or by a record player it would have more context.

Due to the legal issues this image could cause, we will delete it unless you have proof of the relevant permission.

Alamy Contributor Relations"

 

Other comments in that thread are worth looking at.   My instincts were to create scenes with props related to authors.  If I reshoot book covers, that's what I'll do.

 

Good detective work. Thanks again. So I gather that marking such images (isolated book/album covers) as 'non-exclusive' and 'editorial use only' isn't adequate.

 

Sorry to digress...

Edited by John Mitchell
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I have refrained from comment so far because my view is, and has always been "it is what it is" there is nothing I can do about it. This step has been coming for a long time, clear for all to see surely.

 

I shall continue to contribute to Alamy albeit with less enthusiasm, whatever the commission rate is. The legal aspect is a little unsettling to say the least, I am making changes to my collection in order to avoid any awkward situations. However, at the end of the day, if anyone wants to sue me, go right ahead, because "you can't have what I aint got"

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1 minute ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Good detective work. Thanks again. So I gather that marking such images (isolated book/album covers) as 'non-exclusive' and 'editorial use only' isn't adequate.

 

It's probably going to depend.  Sony apparently is more aggressive about its property.    I've got a number of books that I didn't photograph.  For Patti Smith's first poetry chapbook, I'll have to find a statue of a dog and a model airplane.  My guess is that most small presses would be happy to get some publicity for their books and some would probably believe that photographers were richer than poets.   Making some scenes and adding some text quotes would be more fun  than simply shooting covers anyway. 

 

Since everything I've put up at Alamy comes down on June 31st, I'm not fixing anything now. 

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3 minutes ago, MizBrown said:

 

It's probably going to depend.  Sony apparently is more aggressive about its property.    I've got a number of books that I didn't photograph.  For Patti Smith's first poetry chapbook, I'll have to find a statue of a dog and a model airplane.  My guess is that most small presses would be happy to get some publicity for their books and some would probably believe that photographers were richer than poets.   Making some scenes and adding some text quotes would be more fun  than simply shooting covers anyway. 

 

Since everything I've put up at Alamy comes down on June 31st, I'm not fixing anything now. 

 

I found the book/album cover thread and remember the discussion now. Gracias.

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11 hours ago, Doc said:

None of us can tell anyone else what to do, as we are in different positions. However we can all decide what we ourselves are going to do.

For me, firstly I am waiting to see what comes back from Alamy. Nothing to be lost at this point by waiting for that. Sadly, as we have seen in the recent past, when new contracts are proposed, violently objected to by us, and then made more benign, they may not then last very long. On the other hand, the partial reversal last time (retain 50% for exclusive images) was decided by the old Alamy management, and this is now PA. They may be less inclined to go back on contract decisions within a year or so which they themselves have made.

In the meantime however this is what I have been doing:

 

1. I have ticked the "for editorial use only" box in the appropriate images. In my collection of 27K photos, the vast majority have people in, so I am guessing c. 20-22K will need that doing. Like John in Vancouver I am not certain how helpful that will be, as all my images have always been marked correctly for model/property releases etc. Interestingly I asked Alamy if they could mark all my images as "for editorial use only" as I thought it would be easier to untick that box on 7K images, rather than to tick it on 20K images. Unfortunately when Alamy did this for me (very quickly) they put a red padlock on all the restrictions so I could not go through and take the  editorial restriction off the 7K or so images which didn't need it. So I asked them to take the tick off the editorial only box, and I am going through making all images editorial use only initially, and will then go through and remove it from the ones which don't need it. This will take some time.

 

2. I have removed myself from all distributors. I am very concerned that apparently distributors may not abide by our restrictions, leaving me more open to legal problems. Normally you can only withdraw in April but at the moment this appears to have been extended.

 

3. I will be going through and removing images which might possibly leave me more open to being sued/having to pay Alamys' legal charges. 

 

4. Although I have never sold any images except through Alamy, I will at some point ask them to make my collection non-exclusive, as with these changes and the ever-reducing cost at which they are selling images I am not going to be able to re-attain the $25K threshold for 50% reimbursement.

 

5. I have taken out some Professional Indemnity insurance, which may or may not work against Alamy's contract but will make me feel a bit better.

 

I have invested 17 years and 27K images in Alamys' collection, and both I and Alamy have done well out of it. I, like many others with large longstanding collections do not want to throw that all away, but like everyone I am very concerned about legal fees being dumped on me, especially when I might have known nothing about it till it happens. 

It would be very interesting, and useful I think to many of us, to know how many times Alamy and Alamy photogs have actually been sued in the last say 10 years. I have asked this question of Alamy, but was told that they could not respond due to confidentiality issues. I am not sure how that applies to just giving us the numbers of occasions. My suspicion is it is very small numbers.

 

There are still some very good people working at Alamy, but they must recognise that explaining "intentions" of complicated legal paragraphs is simply not enough. The wording must be changed to reflect this more accurately.

 

Alamy - we await your proposed changes.

 

Kumar

 

 

Great words Doc, Alamy/PA really have misunderstood some of the people like you, who have big collections and have trusted Alamy, it is most likely the PA side, who has made the decision.

For the likes of me with small collections, it's not a massive issue, I won't lose much if I move or stop, it's annoying, but for you and others, it really is a massive kick in the teeth & they have failed to understand this, or they know that the people with bigger collections will be loathe to take everything away, almost overnight and will hang on, so they are probably banking on that, but it's a shocking decision to treat you all this way, all for a quick bit of profit, or shareholders or whatever.

 

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Posted (edited)

Many contributors are trying to figure out what they need to do to stay with Alamy if there are no material changes to the new contract. Ever-diligent Alamy staff are helping out as they can with mass changes to portfolios. Kumar and others have provided steps they are taking.

 

I think if Alamy does want us individual contributors to stay, they should explicitly announce and provide a temporary range of services for helping contributors tailor their portfolios.

 

Contributors who feel that they have some images that will have more potential liability under the new contract (or who have realized through this thread that they have always had those potential liabilities) may be in a difficult place if they want to delete some images, and stay with Alamy beyond June 30. Images that we annotate for deletion are not deleted until after 180 days. Images that have previously sold can be re-licensed for the next two years. Other ways to try to make images unseeable or unlicensible (delete keywords, add "not for sale" note, etc) may or may not work. 

 

So, I think that the services Alamy could provide for those wanting to stay should include true deletion of selected images. 

 

What say you, Alamy?

 

(Apologies if this has been suggested elsewhere in this thread. Not going to read through it again.)

Edited by Bill Kuta
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40 minutes ago, Ollie said:

But it seems to me that any legal action against us for "infringement of privacy" or other complaints are most likely to arise in the US, UK, or Europe and are rather unlikely to arise in other countries of the world.

 

You might want to read the Mexican law on this.  It's foolish to assume that people in exotic locations will never find out about someone selling a photograph of them where they were never consulted and there was not even oral permission to photograph, and can't find a lawyer to take the case on contingency.   US and UK (and Nicaragua and some other countries) have laws on public photography that are more, not less, favorable to the photographer.

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12 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

I am going to pause and see what happens. I feel trapped actually. I have worked on Alamy probably every day for around 18 years. 

 

I would love to make a gesture but am trying to stay calm enough just to wait and see. Throwing 70k images down the toilet pan is tempting but would just hurt myself not Alamy.

 

So, no more uploads from me, see what happens over the next 6 months. Probably switch all images to Non-Ex but not immediately - will see how the Infringement Team operates and what fees they get. I am deleting my old slide 'scans' - around 2500 images of other people's pictures. I am removing the most obvious risky images and changing a lot more to Editorial Only.

 

I have resumed uploading elsewhere instead of offering Ex images to Alamy.

As I said to Doc, it is shocking those that have put loads of effort and uploaded loads of images and been loyal and also changed so many images to exclusive, my small port is just Alamy, but utterly shocking from PA/Alamy and still waiting for the contract review with almost 100 pages of responses!

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9 hours ago, yokochanie said:

 

2008  31 pictures sold  $3705

 

2021 (part year only)  53 pictures sold, $1521

 

 

I had a company contact me two years ago asking to use an old postcard picture of mine on Alamy for around $400. I had to sign that I owned the copyright. I declined and referred them to Alamy. The picture they said would be used for an advert campaign. They did and and around two months later it went through as been paid for around $40. I checked this with Alamy but they said it was correct. A few pictures recently went through for $3.13...multiple use and in perpetuity. Better then the one that went through at $1.18 for the same use.

 

As for the picture that went royalty free for $0.24, words fail me.

 

There has to be something wrong if a company want to pay me $400, but then get the same picture from the agency where they first saw it for just $40.

 

My point?

 

With that kind of pricing (giveaways), maybe look first at your charging policy before cutting a percentage from the people that go out there and get the pictures.

 

 

That does seem to imply, Alamy's race to the bottom, price wise is bonkers

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3 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

I believe Alamy are only going to rewrite some clauses so they will be clearer to photographers. I do not see where they are going to change the intent of the contract at all.

 

How many photographers have been sued? Probably very few, as that is not how it works.

 

Parties in the chain receive threats from the plaintive's lawyer. For reasonable smaller claims, a confidential financial resolution is reached between all parties. It never gets to court. It is not public. No one has been sued. However legal costs and settlement costs have been incurred.

 

For large claims everyone in the chain becomes adversaries, all with their own legal representation. Every entity in the chain for themselves.

 

If an agreement is not reached with the plaintive, then the plaintive may sue. Then it becomes public.

 

Occasionally there is a perfect storm of circumstances that can lead to a large claim regardless how careful all members of the stock photo chain have been.

 

Before 2000 most stock photographers were also commercial photographers. They used professional models which made their model releases enforceable. Commercial photographers understood about trademarks, photographing money, photographing artwork in public places, copyright. They had a good working knowledge of the legal aspects of stock photography, and knew their risks. They had their own limited companies, and also carried insurance just in case.

 

When the prices paid for stock photography fell, around 2000, professional stock photographers stopped production. They went on to other types of photography, but left their existing stock on sale because it was largely bullet proof legally.

 

New submissions from professional stock photographers fell off, so stock archives had a problem. Stock archives conducted misleading PR campaigns that placed newspaper stories about how a stay at home mom was supplementing family income by using her new digital camera to photograph her family and friends. Misleading PR campaigns about how amateur authenticity with real people, not professional slickness with actors, was the new trend.

 

New amateur stock shooters, poured in, but had no concept about the risks they were taking.

 

The "Photo AGENCY Council of America" (PACA) understood the risk, and changed their name to "Photo ARCHIVE Council of America"(PACA). Former agencies took the agency language out of their photographers contracts and became archives. If you are an agent you have a heightened responsibility to act in the best interests of the people you represent. Archives are depositories, they represent no one.

 

The new Alamy contract is an honest contract that lays out the risk that photographers have been taking all along. Everything in this contract, is standard stock industry practice, and has been so for many years.

 

Do the low returns, due to low prices and a smaller cut, justify the risks and any future production? That is the question.            
 

Excellent post Bill. I would give you a positive arrow but for reasons unknown some contributors seem to have lost that "vote" facility some time back.

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Maybe from a slightly different barrel. The whole change in the contract is about finding the efficiency of the company. So far, it seems that the profit will be generated on the bent backs of contributors. But did the company also look into its own ranks? As is possible in the online space, in a globalized world where time is the measure of success on Friday closes and says "So again on Monday". Such a luxury. Wake up! We live in the second decade of the 21st century.

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