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Licensing a photo to a non-profit?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by ijm5012, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Photography is generally a hobby for me, and outside of selling some prints to friends and family, it's not an income source for me (despite that some people have told me it should be, but that's a whole different discussion entirely).

    Recently, I posted a photo to my Instagram page (photo seen below), and had the city's official tourism & promotional agency reach out to me, asking it it was OK to use the image. I went on their website, and filled out a "Contact Us" form letting them know that I was contacted on IG about the image, and I had some questions about how the image would be used. The response I received was:

    "Thanks for reaching out about our Instagram request. There are a couple of different things we do with a rights-approved photo including using the photo in social media posts to various printed publications. As far as this particular shot goes, we don’t know exactly where it’ll be used, but we think it’s a great photo for future promotions/marketing pieces. Just a head’s up, we do give photo credit when the photo is used.

    I hope that helps answer your questions. Feel free to reach back out for more info.

    Thank you!"

    After thinking about it, I responded back to them after a day or two with the below:

    "Thank you for reaching out to me, and my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I hope you enjoyed your weekend (and managed to stay warm!).

    Regarding the image being discussed, I would love to see the photo used to help advertise the city of Pittsburgh. However, with the image being used for commercial purposes in a variety of promotional and marketing materials, I would look to license the photo based on its use. I'm sure that you understand that there is a fair amount of time that goes in to capturing and editing the photo, in addition to the expense of the equipment used to do so.

    I hope that you can understand my position on this. I'd love to discuss the opportunity with you in more detail. Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Thank you,"
    My thought on the subject is that even though they are a non-profit, they're the official tourism & promotional agency for the city of Pittsburgh, which is fairly large. Moreso, the image would be used in a number of promotional and marketing pieces of information, helping generate revenue for the city, so why should I be not be compensated for helping deliver part of that value?

    I'm curious to know how others here have responded to similar requests. Did you simply let them use your photo however they wish while simply accepting credit for the image where used, or did you license the image? If you did license the image, how did you go about determining a proper licensing fee, and how did you go about generating a legal document that outlined the licensing fees and usage rights?

    Simply curious on my end. Anyways, here's the image being discussed. The image is nearly 67MP in size, so could literally be used for anything, including large prints/signs/billboards.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    IJMO0028_DXO by Ian Menego, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 3
  2. AllanG

    AllanG Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 26, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    I agree with the manner in which you responded to them. Clear and concise.
    Our national broadcaster asks for images to be sent in by the public for them to use for broadcasting purposes. I was going to submit several weather themed images however on reading the fine print I did not send in any as they reserved all rights to use any image in any manner they chose including publications effectively removing/transferring copyright.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. Orbmiser

    Orbmiser Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2017
    Yep it's always a balancing act when it comes to non-profit vs. so called non-profit. As they have funds to pay the writers and staff in producing those materials.
    But for some reason they think Images seen on the Internet should be free. I run into this attitude time and time again. Magazines to Web sites & Blogs.

    I've run into this issue multiple times from for profit and non-profit request to use images.
    Also for a City promotional magazine called Travel Portland. Wanting to use one of my images.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Travel Portland Vistor's Guide Pg. 72 by Orbmiser, on Flickr

    Originally they asked to use. But I asked about compensation for use of image.
    They hmmm'ed and hawed and offered $40 for one time use. Which I took as can't push back to hard.
    As there are zillions of users that gladly give it up for free just to see their name in print.

    Worse cases was a Web Design for profit site that did a 2-part on "Getting Paid for your Stock Photography"
    The used one of my images for part 1 without permission. When I asked about "Getting Paid" fell on deaf ears and they ignored me.

    Another was Wired Magazine using on of my images of my e-reader in their article also ignored email's and request to remove.
    To Getty making bulk deal with Google on Getty contributors images in bulk. 6 of my images netted me $9 ea. for google docs unlimited use forever.

    So request compensation but expect 8 out 10 times they will not offer anything. As there is a great sea of Free Images Out there in the Internet Ocean!
  4. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    I don't think a government agency counts as a non-profit. Maybe it's not even the government agency but a PR company that does social media stuff for them(for money of course)? Anyway, I am sure they have a budget to spend on advertising/social media outreach and such things. I haven't dealt with this sort of thing, but their answer sounds a little evasive to me. It's one thing if they just repost your Instagram post once, but what if you see it as a huge billboard or a full page magazine ad in the future. Would you feel cheated/unappreciated? Again, I don't know anything about this, so I could be wrong. Did they ask you for the full size file?
    Have you tried posting on reddit photography forum? I remember there being a template floating around there for wedding photography people. Maybe there's something similar for this. Or, you could you just ask for money. I am sure the people dealing with you will send you the proper forms to sign if you agree on a sum. They probably do this all the time.
    Congrats btw. it's flattering to receive such messages whatever the eventual outcome :) 
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Clicka

    Clicka Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2014
    Peter Campbell
    Great photo. You deserve to be paid. They aren't a charity. They're not only trying to take advantage of you and your efforts, but all the hardworking photogs out there trying to make a living.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    It's sad that we've reached the point where photography is so ubiquitous that organisations can treat it as free. I think asking for payment is entirely reasonable but I suspect it's 50/50 at best whether they accept it or just find someone else's shot who'll let them use it for nothing.

    It seems stock photography is practically dead - there are even things like Unsplash that try to turn giving images away into something hip and worthwhile.
  7. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thank you all for chiming in. It seems everyone agrees that compensation should be requested based on the usage of the image outlined in the email. My thought is that if the employees of the non-profit are getting paid (which they are), and that the image will be used to help promote the city and generate revenue, that I shoudl be paid for the value added by my image. We'll see what they come back with regarding a response, and I'll be sure to update the thread for those of you interested. Honestly though, I doubt they will want to pay for the image. There are so many photographers here in Pittsburgh that they'll find somebody who will agree to have their image used in every way imaginable, and will be perfectly fine with just being credited in the publication.

    As many of you have said, it's sad that photography has gotten to a point where many view it as a service that has no value (hence why they always want to use photos for free), yet its the photography that adds value to the publication. I suppose that's what happens when the barriers to entry are lowered to the point that anybody with a few hundred dollars can go out and buy a CaNikon, post images to their FB/IG page, and all of a sudden they're a photographer...

    @Orbmiser@Orbmiser , nice image of the waterfall. $40 for a single-use license isn't bad. How did you go about drafting up the licensing agreement? Did they have one they sent to you which you reviewed and signed, or did you put one together and send it to them for approval? If you put it together yourself, what did you use as a resource for a baseline/template for all of the legal verbiage?
  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Do a search for “Rights Mananaged Photography Contract” and you should find plenty of samples you can use. I believe all the stock agencies have sample contracts for various uses of an image.

    Why do you say they are non-profit? I am going to bet they are not. I do a lot of assignment work for basically the same type of agency here in Houston and they are not non-profit.

    I hate getting contacted by someone like this who wants it for free. When they do I ask purpose, medium they want to use it in, production run, and length of time. If they answer like your response I email back and tell them that if they want to use my image it’s not free and the price is based on the answers to my questions and that if they don’t want to provide that information for me to do up a contract then they can look for a different photograph to use. But I make my living thru my writing and photography and “getting credit” is not payment.....sorry it’s not...........

    Only you can decide how much that photo is worth to you or if you willing to give it away for credit.
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    I wouldn't give it for free as a general rule. Been down that road. Had a magazine contact someone else who published one of my photos they wanted to use and long story short they said they had no budget for photos (yeah right). Since it was benefiting someone who had already paid me (and helping promote their event I shoot yearly), I allowed it, but if they contacted me directly I would have turned them down. I think they even forgot to add my photo credit, which was their original offer (and also legal requirement), which is an utter joke. Even a measly $25 would have been fine. Most people don't look at photo credits.

    You could ask them to give you some free advertising (or credit for future) if you wanted to test the market to sell prints of your photos. Or ask to put some photo cards/poster(s) in their office for tourists as free advertising. If they are just surfing instagram, they might just move on from one to another though until they get a yes. Might be worth allowing use on website (maybe with your watermark only?), but not in print without compensation. Then maybe someone else will see and want to license.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  10. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 9, 2017
    What Phocal said.

    No one gets an image for free.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Got a response this morning, which read:

    "No problem, thanks for letting me know. I’ll keep you in mind if we need similar images in the future.

    Thanks and have a great week!"
    So pretty much what I was expecting, simply fishing for someone who will allow their photo to be used without being compensated for their work. As soon as someone mentions they want to be paid for their effort, they move on. Sad, as I would've enjoyed having my image used to help promote the city where I live, but I won't do so without being compensated.

    Doing a bit more digging and reading through their 2016 Annual Report, I found the following pieces of information:
    • "Generated nearly $2.4 million worth of advertising value through video, web/mobile, print, TV, radio, direct mail, e-mail, outdoor signage, and promotions to leisure travelers."
    • "Generated nearly $1.59 million in partnership income"
    Yeah, if they're creating over $2 million dollars worth of value through advertising, and charge a partnership fee for companies, then they could afford to pay me for the rights to use the photo (provided they felt it would deliver a return on the licensing fee paid). No skin off my back though, I sent back a cordial response thanking them for their interest in my photo, and to keep me in mind anytime that they would like to license photos to help attract more tourism and business to the city.

    @Phocal@Phocal , I said that they were a non-profit, as it states on their website as well as on their annual reports that they are a non-profit organization.
    • Sad Sad x 1
  12. The Grumpy Snapper

    The Grumpy Snapper Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 9, 2017
    Doesn't surprise me in the least. I got so sick of dealing with people who expected me to give my work away I shut my website down.

    I had a photo magazine contact me a couple of years ago and they weren't paying for images. You can't even blaim the internet as rates were already dropping in the mid '90s before going into freefall a decade later.

    I'm waiting for someone to ask how much they should pay an editor to use a photo of theirs.
  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    I can see not wanting to give things away that might have value, but at the same time you shot the image for fun and personal enjoyment. Seeing it published elsewhere can only enhance that for you, right?
    • Wow Wow x 1
  14. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    • Funny Funny x 1
  15. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I think you are within your rights to ask for anything you want. I also think there are likely 1000s and 1000s of the same shot, so I doubt they'll pay you anything. They will find another one from someone else, that person will get photog credits, and the pleasure of boasting to friends.
  16. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    My two cents: While there is nothing wrong with the image in the OP, I don't see it as anything special in the context of @ijm5012@ijm5012 's portfolio. If the company wanted outstanding images to show off the city of Pittsburgh, they could do much, much worse than contracting with Ian for some outstanding images.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  17. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I certainly can understand your viewpoint, and agree that it would be neat to see an image of mine published in a magazine or advertisement, but I believe you must look at it from a different perspective as well.

    This is a company/organization and charges participating companies a membership fee, and in exchange for that fee, they create and deliver promotional and marketing materials that help drive consumers and tourists to the city to generate revenue for the city and its businesses. The company is getting paid for their value-adding work (through membership fees), and the employees at the company creating these pieces are paid for their work, as they should be.

    Using photography and images in these promotional and marketing materials is a crucial part of creating that value for their paying customers (how boring would an advertisement be if it were text-only?), so why should I not be compensated for helping create a piece of that value-adding work?

    Additionally, by signing away all of the rights so that they can use it however they please, for as long as they want, it sets a precedent in their mind that this is OK. If enough people do this, it becomes the norm to the point where when somebody requests to be compensated for their imagery, all of a sudden they're the black sheep. This erodes the commercial photography market as people begin to assume that images don't cost anything (despite the photographer spending hundreds or thousands or dollars on their equipment, in addition to the time spent driving to and from the location, setting up and taking the shot, and editing it).

    I understand your viewpoint, but don't agree with it in this case. They chose not to use my image, and that's fine with me, but unfortunately there is somebody else that doesn't realize they're hurting the local photography industry, because they "just took the shot for fun".
    • Agree Agree x 3
  18. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks @TNcasual@TNcasual . Regarding the image, I agree that there's nothing particularly interesting about the image, short of the frozen river (which is the only thing that makes the image special IMO). I have MANY other photos of the city that I feel are far superior than this, but they liked this one for some reason, so who am I to tell them no?
  19. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    I didn't say you shouldn't be compensated, but you took the image without any thought compensation. So I don't see why you would worry about that now. You planned for it to sit on instagram or flickr racking up free views forever, right? So how is it being viewed for free in print any different?

    If they were asking to do a new shoot for their usage for free, then I think that is different. But an existing image that you shot for fun, you already gave that time to yourself freely.

    Obviously it's already at that point, right? They asked, you said no, and they will go find a free photo elsewhere.
  20. tkbslc

    tkbslc Super Moderator

    People aren't writing single column, print ready articles about the top 10 things to do downtown and top local startups of 2017 as a personal hobby and posting them online. People are taking high quality photos as a personal hobby and sharing them for public viewing. I don't think it's the same.
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