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This photograph has had 1,600 views on flickr. I posted it in 2005.
This week I had an editorial request to use it. I get many of these through my photos on flickr. Whether they come from Swiss airline magazines, British online map companies or football magazines they always have one common theme – ‘we can’t pay you but…’
You know the rest. The request to use this image was from iVillage, which is now owned by NBC the American TV network.
Ignoring the fact that I was addressed to as Lauren, here is the email I received from iVillage’s Michelle Menner (who I shall refer to as Steve):
I’m with NBC’s iVillage and am working on a feature about people who love their pets. Came across the photo of your adorable pugs in bug costumes and would love to use it as a part of a photo slideshow on the iVillage website.Here’s a link to the specific photo:www.flickr.com/photos/gazcook/50226996/ If you’re interested, please send the photo, photo description (pet’s name, what’s happening), and credit information (photographer name, city, state) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, June 24. The feature will run in the next few weeks. Thank you. Michelle Menner iVillage | Pregnancy + Parenting
I have refused every request to use my photography in an editorial publication unless payment has been offered. Only once has a fee subsequently been agreed.
At this point I can’t stress strongly enough that you should never allow free use of your images, particularly for a profit-making agency or publication. If they get paid for their work, you should get paid for your work*.
Even if you are flattered, have never had a photo published before or are new to photography and looking to gain experience – never ever offer to work for free or allow your work to be used for free. It’s idiotic and undermines the entire industry to the point where you can’t complain about not being able to get aid for work later in your career because some other novice is offering work without payment.
For this request of the two pugs, to be included in a slideshow which I deemed was more of a promotional platform for my work, I decided I would allow the photograph to be used – but only after clarifying copyright and usage terms. So I emailed Steve back.
I received no reply.
It seems that organisations like NBC not only want images for free – they also can’t be bothered to agree not to sell on your image for profit or promise that they won’t grab the copyright off you.
*The only exception to this rule is if the publication is actually publicising your work or project.