STV’s shameless exploitation of photographers on Flickr

On my fairly popular Flickr photo stream I recently received an invite to add some of my photos to a group pool. This is pretty common on Flickr and is part of the idea – themed pools are a place to invite and share images from all over, you get your photos seen by more people and you get to see more people’s different photos than you might otherwise, sometimes becoming friends with some of them. I contribute to a large number of themed pools and it isn’t unusual for me to get an invite to post one of my images to one. This time it was the STV Edinburgh pool, a group pool on Edinburgh life and pics by the Scottish Television media group. However when I looked at their group rules I declined since it said if you added any pics to their pool (bear in mind they invited me to do so), you would:

Grant to STV an irrevocable and perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, world-wide licence to publish your picture on any STV branded service

old square, new buildings

I think this is utterly shameless behaviour on the part of a corporate multimedia business – you notice the terms “royalty-free” and “irrevocable”. No mention of compensation if they should decide to use one of your images to illustrate something in any of their media platforms, which are a business. So in other words they get to use your work for nothing to make money for their enterprises. This is blatantly exploiting amateur photographers, and at the same time a sneaky way of doing professional photographers out of work by finding the work of people online then using it for free. Sadly this is not unusual behaviour for many professional old media companies, I’ve seen similar with photos, with written articles and more. They seem to think you should be thankful for ‘the exposure’, the chance to get your work seen. It is a vile and shameless form of exploitation which I find infuriating. I have allowed the use of some of my photos under Creative Commons copyright, free to use with permission and attribution for non-commercial purposes, and have allowed some to be used for various good causes or not for profit art, community and charity purposes. But if a media company – a business – wants to have my images that they can use when they wish (and for all time!) then they can bloody well pay me proper rates for using them. If they are good enough to be used wherever they wish then they are good enough to be paid for. Shame on you, STV, and your disgusting, immoral business practises like this. We are not here to be exploited by you for free material.

2 thoughts on “STV’s shameless exploitation of photographers on Flickr

  1. There’s more and more of this sort of thing going on. Send in your pictures, send in your videos, send in your thoughts. Tell us your likes, your dislikes, the books and videos you bought, the things you like to wear. I don’t quite get why you’re so outraged by it. That’s how the web works. Give us your content, and we’ll monetise it. Amazon has its reviews written for free. Why should STV be any different (unless you were complaining about the slightly underhand way it was done, in which case apologies)?

    A quote I read recently: If you’re not paying for something, you’re the product. Facebook anyone?

  2. John, yes, you’re correct, this sort of thing is, sadly, becoming more and more common as the dinosaurs of old media try to feed on and exploit people using new media. But the fact that it is such a shamefully common practise is no reason to accept something which is simply and totally wrong – I think I am quite right to be outraged by it and the implication that one should just accept it and not be angered and draw attention to it, well staying quiet and accepting such bad behaviour encourages and fosters more of the same. So I will remain outraged and tell people to watch out in their dealing with this pile of amoral scunners.

    And yes, it is done in an underhand way – Flickr is not meant to be a place for media companies to sneakily bilk people out of their work, in fact it has processes set up to allow reputable media companies like Getty Images search your work for something relevant required for a media client which they will license and pay for properly, unlike STV’s underhand attempt to purloin work for free. BTW, on your “if you’re not paying for something” comment, I have a Pro account – I *do* pay for my Flickr pages!

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