Today I had lunch with a dear friend, let’s call him Steve, who is currently mediating a dispute between two dear friends who also are also doing business together.
One friend, let’s call him Collin, is an extraordinarily talented photographer.
The other friend, let’s call him Mathew, learned photography from his naturally talented friend Collin.
Now Collin, although he’s a gifted creative talent, doesn’t exactly excel in the business and marketing departments, just yet.
Matthew on the other hand is much more of a marketing kind of guy and knows how to hustle for gigs.
So the story starts with these two friends wanting to help each other. “The path to….”
Collin teaches Matthew the craft of photography then Matthew starts getting great gigs for Collin. Cool.
Now Matthew has developed a company that has a nice stable of photography talent that he’s representing.
Unfortunately Matthew has developed this company without taking the time to gain an understanding of international copyright law and ethical business practices.
Why? He is using the images of photographers that he represents without giving them credit and “without” a written licensing agreement that stipulates this. Bad move.
Not only legally and ethically but personally it’s just wrong. And he is alienating his dear friend and mentor Collin.
Why? Well, Matthew is asserting that he just wants to control his photography company’s brand.
“Look here Collin, I’ve brought you so much business. Why are you not forever grateful?” says Matthew.
When Steve told me this story I immediately called bullshit. Come on dude. You want to operate a business, know the law.
Credit lines are not only standard fair practice, what control over the brand is Matthew really gaining by not giving credit where it is due?
Let’s just be real. What Matthew is really afraid of is that clients are going to go around him and work with the photographers directly and he’ll loose his piece of the action.
This is a scarcity point of view and just because he’s representing them he is not entitled to all of their revenue.
Here’s the thing. Copyright, the right to reproduce, belongs soley to the creator. That’s it. If they want a credit line, fork it over.
You can no more help yourself to someone’s intellectual property than you can help yourself to the contents of someone’s purse. You must gain permission, in writing. It’s called a licensing agreement.
I wouldn’t care how much business someone was bringing me, if they forced this type of arrangement I’d tell them to take a flying frickin’ leap.