Photography Rights Grab: A Beggars Banquet–VisitLongmontColorado at the Feast

Most people you couldn’t get to beg for anything. There’s social shame in asking for something for nothing, trying to get something without paying its value to its owner. But when it comes to photography, there is for some odd reason no social stigma to begging and attempting to taking it all. (I think what happens is they’re preying on the fact that most hobbyists don’t know what they’re giving away.)

This really needs to change. If people felt shame, they wouldn’t beg for photographers’ work without payment.

Here’s what I mean. I’ve been working on the Longmont Lake Project and have posted about it repeatedly here on this blog. It’s a very special project, one with a collection of printed and framed photographs that I will put together for a gallery exhibit for the Month of Photography 2023 in Denver.

As I’ve been working on it, I’ve posted some of the photos on Instagram. Today I posted this and you can see Visit Longmont Colorado posted a comment:

Visit Longmont Colorado is a corporation and tourism agency in my town.

@rolleiflexers We love your post and would love to feature it on social and in our promotion of Longmont!! @mention us in your response and use #YesLongmont to approve. Visit http://bit.ly/VLColorado for our updated Photo Terms and Conditions.

VisitLongmontColorado

My reply, quoting their rights-grab terms, easily granted in one quick #YesLongmont hashtag:

I went to their website link, thinking by mentioning they’ve updated terms, maybe they’ve learned from the last time in 2021 they asked me for full rights for free. Nope, still the same full rights grab–“royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual use”.

“Don’t worry, no one reads the small print.”

What that means is that they would own the photo and all rights to it. Forever. For any purpose. Copyright is important, it’s assigned automatically when a photographer makes a photograph. It’s the most valuable thing a photographer own, and they want you to give it away with a quick hashtag response.

Here’s the last photo they requested full rights to without payment a year ago along with my response:

A similar story was featured in Petapixel and remarkably, with almost the same language with Hilton hotels trying the same rights grab. What other business has to deal with this on a regular basis? How are photographers supposed to make a living when there are marketing businesses trying to grab full rights to their work, all granted via a hashtag?

No one questions music rights–it’s known that you have to pay ASCAP or BMI for music rights. No question. You don’t expect to get anything for free, the music industry has made it clear. But in the photography world, this goes on every day.

Here is a similar rights grab in contest form from Digital Photography School:

If you think it’s easy being a professional photographer nowadays, think again. There is so much time spent dealing with things like this that don’t make us any income. And if you’re a hobbyist that doesn’t need the money, you still need to ask for some payment–they’re using your work to market and make money and you should get a piece of that profit.

If not, you’re making it very difficult for working photographers to keep working.

They’re playing the public, hoping peoples’ ego will be so stoked, they’ll gladly give all the work away. It’s deceitful, it’s unfair, it’s prevalent and needs to stop.

Shame on beggars of free art. Shame on VisitLongmontColorado.

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