Social Media

The photography market on the internet is very complex. There are various image banks, photo agencies and portals. What’s different between them? What should we be aware of when working with one of these?

Over the years, we have become accustomed to the free use of all content that have been posted on the internet and the absence of any controls in this area. Photographers are particularly vulnerable to the negative consequences of such uncontrolled use of online content. In order to protect their rights, new solutions have been implemented; institutions and foundations are being created and new rules are being formulated. People are organising public awareness campaigns that educate us on internet rights and respect for property. In order to feel comfortable in the virtual world, it is worth taking a look at the main types of web portals that collect photos and create communities for photographers.

There are many websites, platforms and portals that collect photographs. A high percentage of them are owned by professionals who run their own company websites, fan pages or blogs, which show their photography and offer possibilities of cooperation. Many of them are choosing to collaborate with photographic agencies, image banks or social networking sites that allow them to present their portfolio, download photos with a specific license (for free or for a fee) or to gain clients.


Photo Agencies

The easiest way to collaborate with a photographer is to contact a photo agency which bring together a large number of professionals. Clients can commission work by filling out an online form which is a convenient and efficient way to receive exactly what they are looking for.

From the point of view of the photographer it is important to carefully read the agreement before passing a portfolio to an agency. In addition to financial arrangements, a photographer should pay special attention to the intellectual property rights and exclusivity. The most effective way is to establish cooperation with as many agencies as possible in order to widen the possibilities of potential work.

Image Banks

Another way of earning money from photographs are through online image banks. Such portals are referred to as stocks. With this type of service images can be quickly sold, bought or legally downloaded using a license specified by the author. The obvious advantages are quick access, low price, good quality photos and clearly defined terms of use. The major drawback is repetition. The acquired photo is sent to a buyer in digital form and can be sold to an unlimited number of people.

Photographers who engage with online photo banks should pay attention to the provisions in the regulations, including the commission, the accounts model (if there is a minimum amount that you need to earn to be able to withdraw money) as well as issues related to copyright. The developments and changes to the rules should to be monitored regularly.

Social Networks

The third category of websites where photos can be published are social networks. They include Flickr, deviantArt, Pinterest and mobile applications. The most popular of these is Instagram which has maintained a dominant position despite a change in ownership and the fact that users have been deprived of all rights to published photos.

To protect yourself against copyright infringement, photographers should use only proven partners and should always familiarise themselves with details of the agreement that they are signing. They should keep track of any changes that occur in the company with which the agreement has been signed.

Selachii LLP is a London based law firm specialising on intellectual property and dispute resolution.  Their lawyers have many year of experience in the field and offer advice on contract drafting and special cases.