We – professional press photographers – do know that what we have been doing for decades as a profession is dying. Along with the daily print – but that’s another matter – I’ve been talking about it in this blog ad nauseam.
Yet the stunt LA Times et al. just pulled leaves me totally without words.
My good friend and colleague Matti Matikainen called me up couple of hours ago and said:” Guess what? LA Times, Daily Mail, Tech Crunch etc. just crabbed my image from the net and printed it. Didn’t ask for permission, did not offer to pay for it, nothing… they just printed it.”
I checked – and yes, there it was: all over the world, probably dozens of sites. Matti’s image from last night, just grabbed from the Iltalehti website. Image itself is nothing particular: it is a basic picture of Mrs. Vesterbacka in the presidential palace last night. She is the wife of Peter Vesterbacka, creator of Angry Birds – and the dress is – shall we say – personal and thematic.
But nobody asked for permission to use this image. I mean nobody. Oh, there was one publication from Norway which contacted Matti earlier today and did ask, but when he said the price (100€) they considered it too expensive and backed out.
The independence reception in the Presidential Palace is very exclusive one – there is c. 30 photographers maybe covering it each 6th December. Half of them freelancers, some agencies, some staffers.
I’m saying this so that you understand: it is not that there were not any pictures available if you’d want to buy and publish them: each and every guest is photographed dozens and dozens of times thru-out the evening. Come on, it’s our biggest national happening of this kind – I guess you could compare it to the Academy Awards in terms of national interest. Every fourth of our citizens watch it on TV live.
All it would have taken from LA Times, Daily Mail, etc. would have been one, tops two phone calls: “ Does anybody have pictures and is willing to sell them?”
They even know the tel numbers, because that’s what the m.o. of business was couple of years back.
That’s what professional photography is: you sell pictures. Or: that’s what it was.
Why Pay When You Can Get It Free?
But, new game and new rules: why ask and maybe pay – because you can just as well grab and steal it?
Hell, everybody is doing it – let’s join the party!
From aggregates such as Huff Post / Mashable etc. you sort of expect nothing. They are leeches and I guess do have some justification of existing (?) in their present form.
But for crying our loud: LA Times? Pulizer Prizes and all… ? Jesus f***g Christ! And all the others who somehow dare to call themselves decent/honorable publications…?
I know we are just photographers – a dying breed -but do you really need to suck the sweat out of our balls when we are dead?
Matti has three kids and his images bring the bread and butter to the table. If something which we produce professionally is treated this way… I just don’t have words. Just steal it – because so does everybody. After all we are not human, we are freelance photographers.
I did not check all the links Matti sent me, I was just so totally appalled by this incident. One did catch my attention, though. Under the image it said: “thank you xxx for finding the image and thank you Iltalehti for taking it”.
Get real, for Christ sake! Iltalehti did not take any images. It was a photographer who did that. His name is Matti. It is his property. His right to license his imagery pays the bills. You stole it.
I wonder if the staff of all these “publications” go to a restaurant, eat and when it comes the time to pay the bill they just say: “I have to thank my friend for recommending your restaurant – and thank your cook too…” – and leave without paying, because: what’s the harm, everybody is doing it.
Somebody still think the legacy print has a future?
Epilogue (Morning of 8th Dec., 2011)
I just talked briefly with Matti. He has commented below twice but as the comments are in the most common of languages – i.e. in Finnish, he asked me – in my own words – to write a small summary here:
CNN contacted him last night – asked to use the picture – with no financial compensation. Yahoo approached as well, offering to “link to his website” if they got the image – no financial compensation.
During the night the social media run it’s course (presently the blog is hit with over 3000 readers/hour)
Even LA Times commented below. The financial aspect of the matter in now taken care of – thanks to Polaris (Picture Agency) and Mr. Markku Vuorela. Thus, NPPA lawyers will cease to push the matter further as it is under control in that respect.
However, the point was never about the money . We both agreed in the phone: it isn’t about the money, it’s about the rules and values the media plays with and reflects back to its readers.
A commentary below put it very well in its last sentence, referring to this kind of practice of newspapers/sites – a commentary as an answer to the conversation of Mr Martin Beck of LA TImes and me were having:
“Why would any newspaper want to tell the audience: “we are printing stuff that’s worth.. well.. nothing”?