Shooting Mountains, printing molehills.

Late last week I attended a presentation given by the project producer of A Picture of Britain. In the same week or there abouts there appeared in the British Journal of Photography a letter entitled Complaints to the Beeb, from Gwen Thomas, Business and Legal Affairs, The Association of Photographers.

The letter and some comments are reproduced here. And the original post on DP review is here. The Picture of Britain website is here

Here’s my thoughts… The competition was clearly aimed at amateurs and hobbyists; all those people who’ve been told digital photography’s the future, how inclusive and easy it is, how you can share your photos online, the people who read features entitled ‘shoot like a pro’ and try to with a £150 camera… In short the iPhoto dabblers. It was not aimed at professional photographers, Mr Thomas points this out in his letter, and by that I’m assuming people who make a living from photography, so no one’s being deprived of a livelihood here…

Now, I’m no legal expert, (and clearly by his job title Mr Thomas is) but it states in the DPoB submission rules:
8 In accordance with section 9 of the BBC’s Terms of Use you agree to grant to the BBC a non-exclusive licence to publish and use your photographs for non-commercial purposes. Copyright will however remain with the photographer.
section 9 of the T&C seems to be a blanket term covering all submissions, be they photos, email, message board posts, votes etc.

What I don’t think this is about is swelling the BBC image coffers with ‘on the cheap’ imagery or a way for Worldwide to knock out a quick book, DVD, tea towel or jigsaw and make a mint. It says copyright will remain with the photographer, but by submission they do grant some publicity and promotion rights. In fact the competition rules look a lot like the News image submission rules which look a lot like the Observer’s rules for their recent food competition.

So, back to the presentation, here’s some key stats..
70,000 photographs sent in to the website to date. The site recorded more than 2 million page impressions in the first week. Now that’s a lot of imagery; in fact it’s a great collection showcasing the best of the British landscape by the very people who live in it. In a hundred years time this will be exactly the sort of thing turning up on the future equivalent of Nation on Film. The question is, what are we to do with it in the meantime? Delete it?Leave it on our servers? stick it on Flickr? Burn it on to a couple of DVDs and pop in a draw somewhere? Give it to the NMPFT and the Tate?

So, some thoughts there, if you’ve any, leave me a comment. The next presentation in the series is entitled ‘we all reporters now’ and deals with the recent rise in user submitted images of the London Bombings… now that’s much more of a legal iceberg.

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I've left it here for historical purposes. Please visit my new blog at www.foodjournalist.co.uk

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