The War on Photography
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For some time now the words “war on photography” have taken on meaning. There are three fronts in this battle:
- public monuments, private buildings, public works of art;
- music festivals and concerts;
- public perceptions of photography.
The first front is one that could potentially affect us all. Many countries and the EU have considered laws empowering copyright holders or owners to require permission before photographs of their buildings, works or other things freely seen in public can be used commercially. You cannot photograph the Eiffel Tower lit at night without permission if the photos will be used commercially or for profit. Take this example, you go to Paris and take the shot of the tower at night. You post it on social media and your site is chosen to promote some aspect of interest to the social media company, e.g. they highlight your website/blog/theme etc. to show off their site to others. They are legally allowed to do this without notifying you, but it is using your photo to promote their product. So it could be said that your vacation photo was used for commercial reasons.
The second front is music festivals. I wrote to a journalist who had an article about a $365 one day class being offered at a local music festival for photographers. I pointed out that the same festival denies entry to any camera with a detachable lens and that practicing what you learn is therefore impossible. I also pointed out that the festival supports famous photographers to speak about how they got into the business, and guess what, every one of them learned by going to concerts and shooting on their own, unaccredited. The festivals blame the contracts they have with musicians. The musicians for their part have draconian contracts that allow them to use professional photographs of their acts in perpetuity and deny the photographers use of the same photographs except where the musicians allow it. While musicians complain about how their music is stolen and not sufficiently rewarded on the streaming services, they have no qualms to short change photographers in defense of their “image”.
The third front is the perception of photographers. The war on terrorism has made some street photography and certainly photography of Government buildings and officials suspect. Street photographers “skulking “around may just look suspicious enough to some to warrant reporting to authorities, even if they are not acting unlawfully. Funny as it may seem, people’s expectations of privacy is higher when confronted with a camera, in my experience, than when they surf the Internet.
Now the question is should anyone be concerned? On the music scene I fear the battle is lost. On the other two fronts I see this as simply ridiculous. If the photograph is needed for commercial use I would get permission, but as an amateur whose photography may make me a few bucks I will ignore all of this. If someone proposes to use my photograph for commercial purposes and explicitly pays me I will tell them to get the permissions themselves, and when this is done provide them the photo. If I am confronted on the street I will explain what I am doing but I refuse to live in fear of people who find the slightest anomaly suspicious. Otherwise all we may have left to shoot are selfies and flowers, assuming climate change does not kill off the flora and fauna.
Tom Hogan has a similar article: http://www.dslrbodies.com/newsviews/how-much-photography-can-we.html