$800,000 vs. $0 for Your Photo

While this accomplished chromographic print by the celebrated German photographer Thomas Struth is estimated to sell for somewhere between $500-800,000* when it’s auctioned by Bonhams in November, not all photographers are that fairly compensated.

The University of North Carolina, which has an endowment of $2.3 billion, just  told Durham, NC-based photographer Justin Cook that one of his photos which UNC used on its own website was worth nothing.

The university (which should know better) claims they didn’t know that they had to credit and pay Cook because he had published the image online “without copyright notice, watermark, or any other warning that publication…was prohibited.”  The obvious fact that he makes his living as a professional photographer – and is a UNC alumnus to boot  – didn’t seem relevant.

This letter from the university’s deputy general counsel strikes us as a classic piece of bad faith legal writing and stunningly negative PR for UNC. (Thank you M. Scott Brauer and dvafoto.com for republishing it here)

Justin Cook's image on UNC's Facebook Page

Justin Cook’s image on UNC’s Facebook Page

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has now intervened on Cook’s behalf but, while UNC has removed the photo, they are rejecting his invoice.

It’s extremely hard for visual journalists to get paid these days in an online world where it’s so easy to drag and drop, cut and paste.

That’s the challenge we set out to solve at YuVue: creating a way to ensure that photographers and videographers can safeguard their copyright, get credited for their work and get paid. Not only that but  our model will allow photographers like Justin Cook to be able to share content on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter  while still protecting their rights.

Watch for our Kickstarter campaign in November and our Beta test in January.  And Justin Cook: we’ll be sending you a special invitation to be a Beta tester!

 

*The seller is a private Southern California collector – not Struth.  

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