Merlin's blog

Images Pro Photography  

Copyright Myths

I was just reading a lot of posts where people were very confused about copyright. A lot of violations are posted on line, and it is surprising the reasons people come up with for doing it.

1. The work doesn't have a copyright notice so I don't need permission. False.
Since March 1, 1989 copyright notice has been optional. The work is automatically copyrighted from the time it put in a fixed form.

2. If I give credit I don't need permission. False.
You still need permission to use the material. This may clear you of plagiarism, but not copyright.

3. I'm only using a small portion of the original work, I don't need permission. Maybe, maybe not.
There are some provisions for "Fair Use", this would usually be in the context of a quote. It would likely not cover photo manipulations. There is no percentage of change that makes it okay.

4. I don't need permission because I'm going to modify the original work. False.
Copyright law grants copyright owners the exclusive right to control modifications of their works. You need permission to create derivative works, including photo manipulations or fan fiction.

5. Everyone is doing the same thing, so I should be able to also. False.
This is one of the strangest reasons I have seen. Other people violating the copyright does not make it public domain and other people breaking the law does not make something legal or right.

6. The material I want to reproduce was posted to an online discussion or news group. !!!That means the work is in the public domain. False.
The owner may have posted it there for their own reasons, but that does not grant permission to copy. It may also be that the post was in itself a copyright violation that the owner is unaware of.

7. I purchased a copy so I have the right to post it. False.
What you purchased was the copy you have, not the right to reproduce, modify or publish it.

8. I didn't see anything that said I couldn't use it, so I don't need permission. False.
Copyright in the US is automatic when the work is created and belongs to the creator unless there is a written agreement transferring it to another person, or it was a work for hire done by and employee. In the case of a photograph, the copyright belongs to the photographer.

9. I downloaded it from whateversite.com so I have permission to use it. False.
To start with, do you know that site had permission? Were you given a license granting permission? As an example, there are a lot of online music sites which are selling MP3 files which they don't own or have license to distribute.

10. I don't have the ability to produce it myself so I have to use other people's work. False.
Yes, someone actually said this. There are many people that dream of being an artist, singer or entertainer, but there are not shortcuts. The people that created the material put a lot of effort in to their work and the copyright law is designed to protect them, not to allow those who have not put in the effort to participate for free. Basic theme here, if you didn't create it, you need permission from the person who did to use it.

11. I'm not hurting anyone. False
Personally I have lost thousands of dollars to copyright theft. People redistributing my work caused a dramatic drop in sales.

Images Pro Photography  / Articles

Why Nude?

I read a recent article about pinups had some statement that bothered me. It talked about pictures in the past objectifying women, and presented the idea that it was changing now due to there being more female photographers. I don't really think this is fair to either the photographers, or the models, present or past. Granted there have been those that sought to exploit women, but I am not convinced that they were ever the majority. Throughout the history of photography, there have been the artists, those who who were learning about the craft, and the women who posed for them, because they wanted to. They sought to express something, or to show beauty.

It is often asked why many photographers shoot nudes. The conventional answer is that men like to look at nude women. While that has an element of truth in it, it is far from the whole story. There is the GWC (Guy With Camera) that uses his camera as a scam to get women undressed. What about the real photographer/artist? The person that puts years in to learning their skill, hours or days in to planning and creating a single image. A nude image can be used to express many ideas, depending on how it is presented. Sexuality is the first thing that comes to mind, but it also can be used to present vulnerability? Freedom? contrast? Rebellion? or simply explore the human form?. To categorize an artist in with the GWC or pornographer is really a slap in the face and very disrespectful of the time, planning and care they put in to their creations. Despite the stereotype typically attributed to men, I have seen several working on the set of a nude shoot looking off another direction because they did not want to offend the model by looking at her. Then there is the partner of the photographer, the model. The images could not be created without her. Why does a woman taker her clothes off for the camera. Again, people conventionally say that she was doing it for money, that the photographer was taking advantage of her, or conning her in to doing the photos for his own motivations. Painting her as a victim, or a foolish exploited girl. This is mostly an image painted by people with no experience with real shoots. If the pinup models of the past were objectified as the article suggested, then why would I have a model? from the other end of the state contact me to do pinup photos of her, not for money, or even at my request. I have also seen women who were not models, just posing for some pretty pictures, get a gleam in their eye, look around, and peel off their top. The real reason that women pose nude? It is because they want to. It might be to feel pretty, or sexy. Perhaps to go against a social convention that they don't really believe in. To explore how they feel about their bodies, or just to help create art and be a part of it. Again there is a stereotype that women who pose nude, are dumb, gullible or easy. I have found this to be far from the truth. They are intelligent, respectable people. If an average woman is asked about posing nude, their reason for not posing is usually not about what they think or believe. It is about what someone else thinks, either that don't think they look good enough, or are worried about what parents, boyfriend, friends, etc. will think. Why create nude art? Because it pulls attention, from both men and women. It touches emotions in the viewer. I like sunsets, and have shot many of them, people looking at them usually say "nice". It is the pictures that are much more human that get "Wow!"

It is unfortunate, but there are people in the world that should not be trusted. Anywhere from a GWC (Guy With Camera) hoping to get a girl's clothes off to true predators that could put a woman in real danger. For that reason we strongly recommend that all models consider the following safety tips and information: The following are provided as general guidelines for protecting yourself

1. When attending a shoot, or meeting with someone for the first time, always take a chaperon. This should be someone who does not make you self conscious. Parents are a good idea if you are under 18, but if you are over 18 it may not be a good idea depending on the format of the shoot. A supportive boyfriend may work, a jealous boyfriend would not.

2. Never put your full address or phone number on any post in a modeling forum or other public area.

3. Be very careful regarding posts and e-mail from anyone with a generic or free (hotmail, yahoo, etc.) e-mail address. Legitimate photographers put a lot of money in to equipment, so while it is possible for a good photographer to use a free email address, it is more likely that they would have their own domain. A free email may be a sign of someone that wishes to be anonymous.

4. Obtain as much information you can about those you are considering working with.

5. Ask for references and examples of prior work. This will give you an idea of the type of work they do, the quality, and help establish that they are a real photographer.

6. Prior to arranging a shoot, discuss and clearly agree on the subject matter of the shoot.

7. Ensure that the terms of the shoot are established in advanced (TFP, pay rate, expenses, etc).

8. Be certain to get a verifiable home and/or studio phone number, and street address, for anyone you work with. Know who you are working with.

9. If it is necessary to go to a shoot alone. Call someone to let them know where you are, who you are with (get ID #) and when you are expected to return. If anything changes call to update the information.

10. Decide what your limits are and stick to them. Don't ever let someone talk you into posing in a manner that you are not comfortable with. For some work you might be a bit nervous and there may be times when you want to go a bit further than originally planned, but still think about if you will be happy with the work. Ask yourself if you are doing it because you are excited about doing something new, or if you are feeling pressured by what someone else expects. Don't be afraid to say no.

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