Forbes Thinks Web Photographers Don’t Matter
See update below.
The Web Celeb 25 – Forbes.com It was interesting for me today to see an article out from Forbes celebrating the Web Celeb 25. I like the article a lot and several of the people that I think deserve to be on this list are (Robert, Mike, Om, Cory Xeni, and many more) but it’s interesting to see how Forbes handled the photos for the article. Forbes of course is a for profit venture and makes money with their content.
As expected where they used photos for their article from Getty Images, they credited Getty as the source of the photos. I assume that they also paid Getty to use these images. If they didn’t of course, Getty would sue them because, well, that’s what they do.
On the other hand, where they lifted photos from the amateurs they used photos in violation of their licence. Of the all of the non Getty photos that they used not a single credit was given.
In my case, a photo that they lifted (some might say stole) of Om Malik is licensed creative commons non commercial with attribution. So while a blogger, or any non commercial entity can feel free to use it assuming they credit me, a for profit can’t use it without permission.
Personally it doesn’t bother me so much, but I also recognized several other photos that were lifted from the web in their same article by other photographers.
To me it’s interesting that in an article about the Web, they still really don’t get it, at least the concept of Creative Commons, etc.
This wouldn’t even bother me as much except for the fact that they bothered to credit Getty on their photos. Which just shows that even in an article about the internet leveling the playing field that they still believe that our content is somehow second fiddle to the pros, not deserving of even a credit or byline when used for free.
By the way, that is a pretty kick ass shot of Om, if I do say so myself. 😉
Update: Just got the following email from Forbes:
“I am writing to apologize for the improper use of your photo on Forbes.com
as part of the Web Celeb 25 listing. It is Forbes’ policy always to
attribute photographs and respect intellectual property rights, and this
photograph was posted in error.
Forbes.com has a very high regard for Web content creators and photographers
– we are a content creator ourselves, and we apologize for this mistake.
We have removed the photograph from the site.
We’re very proud of the Web Celeb 25, and would still like to use your
photograph in it. I hope that you will give us permission to re-post your
photograph. Please let me know.
If you would like to discuss this matter further, don’t hesitate to call or
So I responded back to Paul that it was fine for him to use the photo with credit and all is well that ends well, kind of…
For those of you who suggested I make Forbes pay money to use the image, reparations, etc. that’s just not my style. I like sharing my photos with the entire world. I make a little money on them from time to time but that is not the primary motivation. For me this issue was more about educating the mainstream media on the appropriate use of creative commons licensed images and the need for approval and credit.
Pro-am photographers are going to increasingly become a source of content for the mainstream media going forward. Today it’s still in an awkward stage. My pal Scott Beale over at Laughing Squid and I have had conversations about this in the past. His photos get jacked without appropriate credit all the time and it frustrates him. He’s very clear about how he wants to be credited. My friend Aqui-Ali and I were talking about this issue on Sunday at our photowalk. He mentioned that an architectural magazine wanted to use one of his photos and that he gave them permission but asked for a subscription to the magazine. Personally I’m not interested in a subscription to Forbes Magazine but I’m sure if I’d asked for one in return that they would have gladly given me one.
Longer term though what needs to be built is a formal structured way for pro-am photographers to market their work and a large repository of excellent photos for marketers and people like Forbes to tap into. This is one of the things that we are working on at Zooomr. We hope to have up in the near future a Marketplace section where Pro-am photographers will be able to put their photos up for sale and while participating in the social network also be able to use it as an outlet to begin receiving fair compensation for their images. It won’t be a traditional stock agency, and it won’t be microstock. It will be an interesting hybrid that allows a broader way for photographers to share their work while receiving compensation for it at the same time when appropriate.
By the way, Forbes did a pretty good job overall handling all this. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was an honest mistake and I think they will be more careful in the future. Best I can tell, they first learned about this through my blog at 8:03 a.m. this morning, their IP address hit my server logs several more times throughout the morning and I had an email back apologizing by their Editor still before the day was half over.