Poor Little Orphan Work
Recently I attended a lecture by Lewis Morley, which coincided with an exhibition of British Art of the '60s. Lewis is best known for his photograph of Christine Keeler, which he says is the third most ripped-off photo in the world (after the standard Mao Tes-Tung portrait and Korda's Che Guevara). He showed a large number of variations, some made with permission, most without.
One of those was by Matt Groening and featured Homer Simpson on the chair. This was done without permission because they were "unable to find the copyright holder." They went ahead regardless and it all got settled amicably later.
Imagine being the production company assistant who has to track down the copyright holder. How do you search on the 'net for an image if you don't know the details? Chances are they weren't even born when the shot was taken, have never heard the story, and even if they had a copy in front of them wouldn't have a clue who the subject was.
If they can't find the copyright holder for one of the most famous photos in the world, what protection would your work have? And if someone really wants to use an image, how hard do you think they will try to find the copyright holder?
OK, your photo gets used and you get paid "a reasonable amount." But what if it wasn't for something innocuous like the Simpsons? How may products would you like your work associated with? Political advertising? Taken out of context to misrepresent actual events? Loss of control is as much an issue as loss of revenue.
Posted by: PAUL EWINS