Photo “ownership”

Vanessa Fox pic on CNN.comHey everybody, look at me, look at me (or rather look at Vanessa). A pic of mine appeared on CNN yesterday.

While it was uncredited (and unlinked), my personal photography policy dictates that the subject of the photo can do with it what they like. Only fair, I suppose, as it brings up all sorts of issues of “ownership” when it comes to photos.

Here’s my policy:

(CC) Randy Stewart, blog.stewtopia.com. Feel free to use this picture. Please credit as shown.

If you are a person that I have taken a photo of, it’s yours (but I’d still be curious as to where it is).

Sounds fancy and complicated, right :-) ? I also allow for commercial use of my images with accreditation.

Legally speaking

We had a great conversation last year at Mind Camp around the legalities of taking photos and who owns them. I spoke with someone (sorry… forgot his name) who used to work for Getty Images about this topic in particular. The long and short of it is that if I were doing this professionally (read:for money), I’d have to get Vanessa to sign a waiver saying it was ok for me to publish the photo and relinquish all rights to her image.

So, who owns your picture?

So, that’s the legal side of things (and I’ve really oversimplified it), what about the philosophical side? My feeling is, if I take and publish an photo of YOU, you can print, publish, distribute that image however you like.

You can even tell me to take it down and I’d do it, it’s a picture of you. Beyond any legalities that I don’t completely grok, generally I think of photo ownership as 51% you and 49% me. Meaning, you get final say.

I’m ok with it, but it could be better

I take photos for fun and I love taking pictures of people. It’s also a bit of fun to see my pictures in use, whether it be on other blogs or on news sites. Part of that fun is seeing how many people have viewed an image of mine.

That’s the bummer about CNN not linking (or having a counter as Espressobuzz suggested), I like to know how many people have seen a picture I’ve taken. Given the low cost of links, it seems like very little to pay.

[Editor's note: CNN didn't link to Vanessa either, which given her Googly background, bums her out too. Hopefully, just being mentioned will throw some links from other folks her way.]