Using Photos on my Website - Legal Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Gator24765, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #1
    I am starting up a sports website covering collegiate sports. I can't afford to license photos for official use on my website yet. I want to stay legal on my website so what are my options?

    I can create a lot of graphics myself to use but it would be ideal to use action photos. What photos can I use legally or within fair use? Can I use logos etc?


    Can anyone point me to a book that will explain this in detail to me or point to to a different website I can post in that would be more relavent?


    Thanks.
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    aarond12

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    #2
    Start here:

    http://creativecommons.org/

    There are public-domain photographs on the Internet, you many times just have to give attribution to the original photographer.

    Logos are likely NOT going to be available for use. Most sports leagues and teams copyright their logos, requiring permission for use. And usually a fee.
     
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  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #4
    Thanks for the links. I will check them out.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #5
    This is a tough subject to understand.. The whole fair use thing is a tough one to understand.
     
  6. macrumors 603

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    #6
    It is a very difficult subject, full of pitfalls. Keep in mind a couple of rules though...
    1) The people creating the content (photos and logos) do so with the expectation that they will get paid. They don't usually do it out of the goodness of their hearts. If you are getting paid, even just a little bit, for using the content they created.... well, the content creators can get a bit cranky about this. Which leads to:
    2) Lawsuits and "cease and desist letters". Because you're website is available to anyone, it is very likely it will be seen by the content creators. So you had better be on solid ground. Even so, sometimes when you are on the right side of a blurry line you may get sued. Can you afford to defend yourself? Even if you are correct?

    ---

    A long time ago a photographer got into a heap of trouble. His client wanted a crowd shot to use in a magazine ad. So the photographer took an shot from a 2nd or 3rd story window of a large crowd of people crossing the street in New York. Figured that nobody in the crowd would notice they were used in the ad, and even if they did and squawked about it he'd offer them the modelling fee he should have paid them to begin with.

    Unfortunately - he just happened to catch an NBA star in the crowd, and he was definitely recognizable. Because the NBA star had an exclusive contract with an ad agency, the photographer (and the magazine) got sued: a) for the much much higher modelling fee the NBA star would have receive; b) by the star's ad agency for their economic loss for no longer having exclusive use of the star's image; c) by the client that booked the magazine ad because they had to re-do their entire ad campaign; d) by everyone else who was recognizable in the crowd because now there was blood in water, and the lawyers were circling.

    And finally, the photographer got sued by the magazine for all the money they had to pay from losing their lawsuits. The photographer had signed a form that assured them that the image was safe to use. To say that the photographer didn't have two pennies to rub together at the end of all this would be a minor understatement.

    I'm not suggesting that anything this dire would happen to you if you decide to bend a few rules. Just saying that if you do, on those rare occasions when you get unlucky, it can be very very bad....

    Good Luck!
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #7
    Thanks for the lengthy response.


    I took a Law and the Media class in college a few years back and I wish we would have covered this subject more. Had I known I would have asked the professor more about this. All we really learned about was freedom of speech.
    With that being said, from what I recall a sports event is a public newsworthy event.


    At this point I am researching some smaller photographers, maybe even student or young professional photographers, that shoot the events that I am going to be covering. I will email them and see If I can get in written consent that I can use there photos in exchange to linking to their site.. Who knows maybe some will agree.
     
  8. macrumors 603

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    #8
    Important stuff, but not useful in this case ... :)
    Yes. So you can take photos at the event... but if you use other people's photos you need permission.
    You will probably have a good success rate. Start with a just a couple of good photographers. Once there is some history on your site you will find it easier to get other photographers to sign up. They will be able to see that you are offering a quality product, and being associated with it is beneficial.

    You need to understand that we photographers are always being hit up to provide our images for free - "... because the publicity is good for you." We tend to get tired of all of these outstretched hands. So it really helps when there is something of value being offered. Some very new photographers will be happy for any kind of linkage you can provide. But the experienced ones have probably already turned down sites like yours.

    So... what can you offer them? Can you provide a shopping cart so that your viewers can buy the photos if they like them? You can take a 30% to 50% commission for handling the sale, the rest goes to the photographer.

    Can you get them special access to the teams? Sometimes a news website can a Press Pass that a photographer can't get, and would like to have.

    Are you going to have ads on your site? If so, then you can trade ad space for usage rights. The photographer can advertise that they take team photos, for instance. This is an easy sell to the photographer. If an ad would have cost them $100, but they get it for providing 4 photos that they would have only paid $15 each... well, you can see how they would think it's a good deal. And it's basically free for you to provide the space. The ads, if done well, also give you an air of legitimacy. It makes it look like people think your site is worthy enough to pay you money to promote themselves, eh?

    Etc etc.... when you talk to photographers, ask them what they would like in exchange. See if there is something you can do that they need. You will have much more luck getting your photos that way.

    Good Luck
     
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #9
    I like where you are going here. I can set up a page and links. If they are providing me with photos I will not even take a commission. I would be happy to link directly to their site and their shopping cart so they can take full revenue.




    Yes I do have ads. I like this idea as well.


    Thanks for the suggestions. I need to build some credibility and get some good traffic numbers first. From then I can have a lot more to offer the photographers. After that hopefully I am big enough to hire a staff or get some interns where I can get my own photos.
     
  10. macrumors 603

    Joined:
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    #10
    You can offer the direct link as well, but ... the photographer may not have a shopping cart. In which case you are providing a service to them. They may not want the hassle of maintaining a store. Many photographers would rather be out shooting than maintaining a website or store....

    They may not want the photos they offer to you on their own website. If they have, for example, specialized in wedding photography then they may not want to confuse their mainline customers with something that they do on the side or for fun. In both of these cases, as a photographer, I would be happy to pay a commission on sales for somebody else to sell my photos for me.
    Always a good place to start ... :)

    I'm always happy to spout on with ideas about what other people should do...
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #11

    Good point. I have that ability if they don't have their own shopping cart etc.
     

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