The Social Media Dilemma

Guest Post by Rohn Engh

© Joe FaraceThe current buzz on social networks is whether we’re losing rights to our pictures by joining them? A quick answer is, no you won’t lose your copyright but will lose control over where you wanted your photos to appear before clicking the site’s “I AGREE” button.

Google is the big dog so the other social networks follow their “fine print.” in what Google asked you to agree to. What does Google announce to us photographers out here in the fiefdom? That we will “retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that we hold in our content.” Big deal. They are saying we will continue to own copyright in our photos and our writing in photo stories. That’s nothing new. The Copyright Law attests to that in iron clad language.

What Google says is that you agree to give Google ‘world-wide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute (your) content.’ Is this fair? Google thinks so. Look at it this way. Corporate entities have gobbled up what was free enterprise in stock photography. However, Google’s search process has leveled the field and made independent stock photographers realize that they no longer have to depend on the ‘duopoly’.

What if we photographers didn’t have Google and all its firepower and weaponry to look out for us? It sure helps us as photographers. We don’t know just what corporate beast might gobble the crumbs next week.  Yes, we find ourselves trading our personal data for some good PR or actual sales when our name and work are publicized in a non-profit PBS special, or the target of a positive-sounding PR release by a company we never heard of.

Facebook, Google, and others are the “Classified Ads” of the Digital Age. Here’s a system you can use to determine if you should get involved in such advertising of your photography in social media these days. In the last century, entrepreneurs, not necessarily photographers, would observe the classified ads in the major newspapers of the day. Most city and town libraries carried local and national newspapers. They would scan the classifieds for “repeats.” For example if the entrepreneur placed an ad that read, “How to Rid Your Front Yard of Moles.” -$1. and you noticed it was in there every day or every week, it was a winner.

Observe on Google or FaceBook ads if there are photographers who ‘repeat’ their ads, i.e. maintain them for several weeks or months. Does the same photographer repeat the same ad over and over? If so, what was the wording, what was the pitch? Follow suit.

The late Rohn Engh was the director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes.

Author: Joe Farace

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