What to do about using a photo on a book cover.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by RPippin, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. RPippin

    RPippin Subscriber

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    I have a question. I offered up a portrait I shot on black and white film with large format, of someone who was having an autobiography done of his life, and it was used on the back cover of the book. It was a kickstarted project, they got funding, book was published and now has been sold to Random House for a hard cover version with more about the guy. Now they want to use the image for the front cover. I originally gave them permission, verbally to use it on the back cover only for the kickstarted project and no contract or money passed hands. OK by me. Question is, how best to handle the issue of using it on the front cover now that it's being republished and will most likely wind up in major book stores. The guy feels that he's doing me a great favor by using my image and is sure fame and fortune will follow me for it. Not. I really don't mind them using it and I have no expectations of anything coming from it, but there is a community of photographers out there and I don't feel like I'm working in a vacuum here. Just want to be mindful and respectful of others, and would like to know what the general thinking is out there. What could I reasonably expect from the publishing house, if anything? Would I hold onto intellectual property rights for my image? If I need to relinquish them, should I not be compensated? Just want to keep my expectations reasonable.
     
  2. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    Depends on the contract you sign with the publisher. I'd say retain your IP rights and do a non-exclusive license, that way you can use the image in other ways. I'm afraid if you relinquish your IP rights, you wouldn't even be able to go down to the local Wal-Mart to have the photo printed digitally.

    Just my $0.02 worth.
     
  3. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    a steal

    It sounds to me like he wants to steal your car and have you thank him for doing so. I would remind him that he and the publisher have absolutely no right to use your photo but they can negotiate with you for very limited rights and cash on the barrelhead.
     
  4. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    And that's the problem.
    Permission, contained within a contract in writing and signed by both parties is the correct avenue — never verbally. In the absence of a written contract your only recourse is to advise the publisher of your copyright rights and request for a fee in return for the use of the image — the provision of a sweet acknowledgement of you as the copyright holder, such as by name, is not sufficient. A signed contract means so very much and a well-written contract does not leave anything to chance.
     
  5. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    call the publisher directly and find out what the usual deal is for this sort of thing. Make it clear you hold total copyright for the image and are interested in what they pay for one-time use.

    They'll make you an offer for use of your image. Don't expect to get rich. Authors don't.

    But you'll be published!
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    +1

    And I would be willing to bet that the publisher will be happy you called.

    No one likes to do real business with issues like this hanging out un-resolved.

    No promises though about how much the publisher will want to pay.
     
  7. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    You must have a written contract with the publisher, laying out exactly the scope of their license (make sure it's non-exclusive, doesn't permit sub-licensing and applies only to that one book!). They can probably send you a template because they do this all the time, and they will likely have a standard rate that they pay. It won't be much, maybe a couple hundred dollars.

    For reference, I got $300 for a CD cover after being approached on flickr. From talking to a few photographer friends, that seems to be about the right ballpark for cover-photo licensing.
     
  8. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Work something out in writing with the publisher. Be polite, firm and professional.

    If someone offers to print it without paying for it, saying "exposure" is a great opportunity...tell them people die of exposure. Be sure to get a photo credit, too.
     
  9. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

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    I've done author portraits which were published on the back flap and received anywhere from $800 - $1400. One front cover portrait of Victoria Stillwell, $2000.

    If they want your portrait for the front cover THEY WILL PAY. Your portrait is going to sell that book, so don't feel bad about asking for money. Any photographer deserves to get paid for their work, no matter their level of experience, "pro" vs "amateur" etc. Giving away your work will contribute to the decline of the photo industry.

    What you need to be negotiating is rights for a single edition, so if the book goes into second, third editions you get paid again. They may also want editorial publication rights, which would make it okay for them to send the photo to a magazine to be published outside of the context of the book cover (that is, without the title, author name, etc.) Be careful there. That can be a big giveaway with a lot of potential -- and valuable -- uses.

    You are in the driver's seat here. There is obviously ONE photograph that fits their needs and you own it. Being a scarce resource, you charge accordingly.

    I would also register that image with the US Copyright Office as well, immediately.

    If you need any help, just give me a shout.
     
  10. RPippin

    RPippin Subscriber

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    Thanks Parker,
    Could you send me a link for US Copyright for photos? Probably should copyright more of my work, I'm too trusting and although I'm not that interested in personal gain I am interested in being right minded when it comes to the photographic community I'm so indebted to.