Frommer’s Now F’ing Both Freelancers AND Photo Enthusiasts!

A while ago, I was contacted by an agency representing Frommer’s, an august name in travel publishing, to provide photos of Philadelphia for a guidebook. I had the depth and volume of photographs they needed, and it was winter and they were in a hurry, so shooting the thing would be difficult. The rates for the photos were the new dismal normal, but the volume sale of existing images would have made it worth it.

Worth it, that is to say, had they not wanted more rights….like the rights to use the pictures in a variety of their publications, and license the pictures to others, in perpetuity.  They didn’t ask for the copyright, they just wanted all the rights that copyright affords the creator. In other words, they wanted to own them and they wanted to pay $70 a  subject ( and a subject could include up to 5 photos) to do so.

But, there was a “bonus” fee for any photograph published as a “feature,”  up to $675 for a full page. So if there were larger pictures in spreads or “features” as they were referred to in the contract, they’d pay more, but basically it was $70 a subject for all rights.

I told them it was “one time use” at those rates, or nothing. They decided that they couldn’t live with that, and I walked.

Then, a little while ago, I heard from a young colleague who actually shot a similar book for them in the Middle East. She photographed the whole book, handed it in, got the layouts which had many of the big pictures and “feature” spreads, and waited for her check. Which, when it arrived, was much lower than provided for by the contract because Frommer’s all of a sudden decided that “feature” means “cover” and that no inside picture usage was worth more than $70.

Last I heard, they were going to court. A mega-publisher against a fresh-faced freelancer in a battle of lawyers….hmmmnn, wonder if they thought she might be naive and back down in the face of all that firepower. Think again.

I guess when you put life and limb on the line to document civil unrest, war, and violence while covering the Middle East like she does, a few suits from Hoboken with Ivy League law degrees are just not that scary.

And, in the spirit of three strikes and yer out, I just heard from another colleague about a photo contest Frommer’s is running….probably because of the problems they’re running into screwing the photographers they signed to work with. You can win $5000 and get your photo on the cover of one of their guidebooks. Sounds like a cool contest, until you read the fine print:

Participant retains ownership of the copyright in any submitted photographs. However, by entering photograph(s) in this Contest, participant grants Sponsor the irrevocable, perpetual right to edit, adapt, use and publish in any media now known or hereafter discovered any or all of the photographs without compensation to the participant, his or her successors or assigns, or any other entity. ENTERING A SUBMISSION IN THIS CONTEST CONSTITUTES PARTICIPANT’S IRREVOCABLE ASSIGNMENT, CONVEYANCE, AND TRANSFERENCE TO SPONSOR OF THE FOREGOING RIGHTS.

Yeah, um, you didn’t win, and sure you “own” the photos, except that we’re going to use your photos in perpetuity for nothing, (so screw you and your sense of what ownership or copyright means!)

Apparently Frommer’s is expanding its field of operations  from screwing professionals to duping amateurs, and they are doing both with energy, audacity, and an astounding lack of scruples (way to use your law degrees, guys. Keep burying that shit in the fine print—-who reads anymore anyway? After you finish up with the photographers, there’s always taking candy from babies and foreclosing on disabled veterans to look forward to!).

I think it would be wise to boycott this contest, and boycott Frommers guidebooks or travel products entirely, and let everybody within earshot or “webshot” know that this is another rights grab in sheep’s clothing.

UPDATE: Below is  response from Jason Clampet, Senior Online Editor of Frommers, and my response to his response! These are in the comments section, but I wanted to give them more play so here they are below.

I’m an editor at Frommers.com and one of the judges for the photo contest. I wanted to respond to your blog post.

At Frommer’s, we engage dozens of professional freelance travel photographers on a commission basis as well as license images from stock photo agencies. This year we’ll spend a substantial sum on professional travel photography. Our per-location rate is higher than just about any other competing guidebook company (I should know, I’ve shot books for two competitors myself) and it is significantly higher than the day rate for a news outfit like the AP. We also employ photo editors to work with freelance travel photographers. To me that says we’re investing in professional photographer talent, and not screwing professionals.

Like all travel publishers, we pay for comprehensive rights when we commission photos, but we do not ask for assignation of copyright or prevent photographers from selling their images elsewhere. In fact, the commission fees we pay help many photographers underwrite additional photography of the locations we send them to. We typically bundle dozens or even hundreds of location shots into our agreements, which is much more profitable to the photographers we work with than one-off agency licenses — and the photographer gets to keep 100% of the fee we pay, not share half of it with their stock agency.

Our Cover Photo Contest on the other hand is not a forum for pro photographers but an extension of the upgraded community features we’ve had on our site for a year and a half. In that time, users have shared thousands of their photos in destination-specific galleries (“Best of Paris,” “Best of Italy,” etc.) in the same spirit that our users have shared advice, tips, and travel horror stories in our Forums over the past decade. When people travel, they tend to like to share, too, and our website is a mix of professional and amateur content. We think it’s a great idea to let travelers show off their photos and maybe even have a shot at getting on a cover. Like many websites, we lay a non-exclusive claim on anything that’s uploaded. This isn’t sneaky, fine print stuff, it’s standard Terms of Use language that you’ll see on just about every website.

Let’s be clear: We publish over 100 travel guides a year and only one of those will have a cover image sourced through this contest.

Perhaps we can agree to disagree, but I wanted to weigh in and add some insight and context from our side of the business.

–Jason

Jason: Thanks for weighing in here. But there are still things that I think your response misses.

Like all travel publishers, we pay for comprehensive rights when we commission photos, but we do not ask for assignation of copyright or prevent photographers from selling their images elsewhere.

Yes, you don’t ask for the copyright, you just take all the rights of reproduction that the  copyright protects. So what’s the difference? You let photographers continue to sell their own pictures that you’ve secured for let’s see, a location is 5 pictures and it’s $70 per location so 5 into 70 is, what, $14 a photo? For virtually all rights, including, if I remember the Philadelphia contract correctly, the right to license those photos to others!

That’s, um, something to be proud about?

We typically bundle dozens or even hundreds of location shots into our agreements, which is much more profitable to the photographers we work with than one-off agency licenses — and the photographer gets to keep 100% of the fee we pay, not share half of it with their stock agency.

Yes, volume sales are great, as long as they are not at firesale prices ($14 a picture for all rights). Let’s face it, you guys have to minimize your dealings with stock agencies because stock agencies would never sit still for those heavily one-sided agreements and throwaway prices. They’ve got lawyers too. It’s only the individual struggling freelance content producer that will bend to those terms for short term survival, (and long term extinction.)

When people travel, they tend to like to share, too, and our website is a mix of professional and amateur content. We think it’s a great idea to let travelers show off their photos and maybe even have a shot at getting on a cover. Like many websites, we lay a non-exclusive claim on anything that’s uploaded. This isn’t sneaky, fine print stuff, it’s standard Terms of Use language that you’ll see on just about every website.

Jason, puhleeze. Do you think the average traveler, whom you are so concerned about in sharing and creating community, knows that he or she is giving you guys carte blanche to make for-sale items from their vacation pictures when they enter them in your contest? Sure, take the winners pics, because they’re getting a quid pro quo for the usage.

You guys are counting on the fact that most people will never read the fine print, and most will never miss the income from their pictures because they’re not professionals. Please don’t couch this as some kind of community service. It’s out and out rights grabs from unsuspecting civilians (aka amateur photographers).

Your basic defense on all these points is that “other publishers are doing these things with even worse terms.”  It’s kind of like me telling you I went into Barnes & Noble and boosted 7 copies of Frommer’s Guides (I didn’t, this is just an analogy), but it’s okay, because everybody was shoplifting that day, and most people took more than 7 copies.

It’s kind of bogus logic when it’s held up to a mirror.

Look, nobody is more sympathetic to the trials of publishing than I am, having made a living from it in these last 30 years. And you know, we’re all accepting lesser fees and tightening our belts. I’m not one of these romantics who wants it to go back to the 80s. I understand the new realities.

What rankles me is that your contract (and that of many, but not all, I have to add, of your competitors) seeks to make up every shortfall in the business by taking it directly out of the hides of the weakest link in the publishing food chain, the individual freelancer. Offer $17 a picture…that’s fine. But make it for one or two time usage and not this bullshit “all rights throughout the universe” that your lawyers love.

If we could both shoulder the burden of the new business realities in a relatively fair manner, both sides might survive this recession/depression in publishing.

But if it’s up to your legal division, you’re gonna slowly kill the freelancers. Which is okay now that you can crowdsource travel pictures from gazillions of amateurs. Nobody said your lawyers were stupid, just a tad ethically challenged.

I appreciate the fact that you’re weighing in here and understand if you can’t come back at us. I notice you mentioned you’ve shot for competitors, which means you were probably a freelancer once. So don’t do anything to jeopardize the full time gig, because it’s murder out here at the moment!

Thanks, Bob

This entry was posted in Career issues, Ironies, Legal Issues, Travel.

76 Comments

  1. Larry March 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    Bob:

    Thanks for pointing out the fine print in their contest. I was just putting together some of my better travel shots to send into them. I had mis-read it and thought they meant the WINNING picture could be used however they wanted, not all the entries.
    Here’s one contest I think I’ll take a pass on.

  2. Jerry Hanes March 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    Bob
    thanks for the heads up for shooters out there. AP has much the same thing thats why I quit stringer work for local papers
    love the duck

  3. Richard Graves March 11, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Fantastic revelation! Glad you shared this with us. So much for Frommers.

  4. Tom Dills March 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    The shame of it is that there are way more “fresh-faced freelancers” and don’t-know-any-better amateurs out there than there are professionals to tell them to take a hike. Sorry state of affairs for someone like you who is trying to make a living, and someone like me who would just like to sell a few photos for a fair price.

  5. Jim March 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Glad to know all of this, but I never did care for Frommers Books and would for sure never buy one. Can’t you imagine how much real mis-information is in those crummy guides?

  6. Paul Dymond March 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    And yet another travel photography client bites the dust. We’ll be down to selling 6×4’s of the Taj Mahal to passers-by on the street corner at this rate! I will pass this far and wide to get the word out.

  7. Matt March 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    A family member sent me the contest and suggested I enter. I read the fine print and was outraged, I tweeted about it….Frommer’s Editor suddenly starts following me. I send him a message being like WTF…no response. I repeat my message – nothing.

    They basically spent $5000 and got a whole photo library. USA Today ran a story on the contest – I wonder how many free images their getting out of it…

    Thank you for bringing it to a larger audience.

  8. Del March 12, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    I am one of those people that read the fine print, and that’s why I have not entered a contest in several years. Have had several clients (and friends) ask why I don’t enter different contests; “you’ll win!!” they always say When I tell them why I don’t enter, they’re totally surprised and ask “Why would any photographer do that?” As I say, all too often, some things I can defend, some things I can explain, and some things I can only shake my head. I’m shaking my head on this one.

  9. Erwin Nanes March 12, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    Thanks for the heads-up. I’m more than a bit disappointed at how some publishers think they can walk all over shooters like that.

  10. Jacob Maentz March 12, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    Great post Bob..thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Dr. Nick March 12, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    What’s the problem? Unfortunately there’s minimal barrier to entry in photography now, so it’s going to be race to the bottom for everyone who doesn’t have some specific skill or picture set that makes them special. It’s much harder to be a plumber, carpenter or basically any tradesmen than a photographer at this point. Now to be a *GOOD* photographer, that’s a different story…..

  12. David Coe March 12, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    This is ridiculous… I worry that are many amateur photographers who are wishing to get any of their portfolio published, will still consider participating in the competition knowing the risks.

    This is further decreasing the value of all our hard work in an industry where it’s seems tough to make ends meet.

  13. Stephen March 12, 2010 at 3:43 am #

    It’s almost time a black list was started for these companies…..

  14. christine B.Osborne March 12, 2010 at 4:06 am #

    The practice of guide-book publishers running some sort of` `competition`, with the prize a commission to photograph a new guide-book, or yr picture on the cover should you win, is a sly way of the company accruing images. No one in their right mind should enter in such a scam. For it is a scam. They do this here in England. Big names just like your experience.

    Regarding your horror at the rights demanded of $70 an image, this is a no-win situation for the photographer. Again, big companies are demanding what amounts to `rights in perpetuity` which, as you say, is really acquiring your copyright, since they would have the right to use the image forever. And the line in a contract which reads `for anything that may be developed in the future`, to cover their backsides, makes my blood boil.

    I have turned down many a request using these tactics, but the publisher, or the picture researcher, will simply go elsewhere. There are plenty of amateur photographers (and I used the word amateur, as one who is not engaged in full time photography) will accept such rights for the frisson of seeing their work published.

    There is nothing we can do about it. It`s a similar story with travel writing. People submitting work which is effectively rubbish, often inaccurate, to on-line sites and then tweeting they are in say, The Washington Post on-line. Woo-hoo! You only need to read such stuff to know they did not receive payment.

    Professional photographers and writers are both suffering as demands grow more excessive and standards drop. And the terrible thing is that nothing can be done
    about it.

    Christine B. Osborne
    Managing Director
    http://www.worldreligions.co.uk
    http://www.copix.co.uk
    http://christinebosborne.blogspot.com

  15. heber vega March 12, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    Thanks Bob,

    people is already tweeting about this post!
    We appreciate it.

  16. Matthew Anderson March 12, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    This is a much appreciated post Bob. Thanks for spreading the word!

  17. Michael Brochstein March 12, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Echoing the previous posters, thanks for publicly illuminating these instances of unfair (IMHO) practices. I think the more light that is shined onto them the more likely they will go away. I also appreciate the financial risk you undertake by possibly offending a potential paying client.

  18. Oliver Collinge March 12, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Interesting stuff Bob. Really underhand approach on the part of Frommers.

  19. Jack Kurtz March 12, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    Thank you for posting this Bob. No more Frommer’s guides for me.
    jack

  20. Joyce March 12, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Thank you for this Bob. I know we love what we do and we would do it for free if we could, but it doesn’t serve anybody when we don’t expect to get paid a fair and reasonable rate for our unique work…or expect copyright laws to pertain to our work.

  21. Dave Benson March 12, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    Scary power… and hidden in jargon…

    Thanks for the heads up

  22. DaveB March 12, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Thanks Bob,

    Merciless these giants and crooks…preying on the unsuspecting

  23. Jeffrey Chapman March 12, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Screw Frommers! I’m sick of organizations that seek to exploit instead of nurture.

  24. Andrey Mokhov March 12, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Dear Bob, thanks for bringing this up!

  25. Mikki Ansin March 12, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    You are going to go to Photo Heaven! What do you think about those PDN competitions? Is Lonely Planet OK to submit to? I’ve been thinking of submitting a lot of my travel images to their agency.
    thanks for the info,
    Mikki

    • Bob March 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      Hi Mikki: The takeaway on this is that we all have to read the fine print for whatever we’re getting involved in. I have no idea about PDN or Lonely Planet, but I’d read any and all rules carefully before submitting! There was a Photo Heaven, you know. It was called the 1980’s:-).

  26. gary March 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Sadly, this is standard-operating-procedure for many (most? all?) photo contests these days. Sucker in the newbies who have no clue about photo rights. In a few such contests, the “winning” photo becomes (essentially) the property of the company running the contest; in many other contests, *every photo submitted* becomes their property. I’ve seen it from both CNN and Smirnoff (see the link in name below)

  27. Mike March 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Thanks Bob for the information. Frommer’s is now on my black list.

    I see intellectual property rights as the issue for this decade. How it plays out will redefine many professions and industries.

  28. Mike March 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Sounds like a way for them to simply get their fill of images that they will use for free. The problem is that there are so many people desperately wishing to have their images published somewhere that they’re willing to give up all rights, credit, and compensation.

    How can we inform more people that they’re doing this??

  29. Stewart Aitchison March 12, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Several years ago I met a young writer, who thought he had hit the big time since he had been hired by Frommer’s to author a guidebook to Grand Canyon National Park. They didn’t offer him any kind of an advance, he was sleeping in his car, and hoping to tag along on one of my guided hikes into the Canyon to glean some natural history information. He later sent me his manuscript asking if I would mind copy-editing it for him since Frommer’s was apparently too cheap to hire one. Poor kid. I hope he went into another line of work.

  30. Margo Pinkerton March 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Bob,

    Another example of pure, unadulterated bilking professional photographers out of the right to make a decent living at their chosen profession. It is reprehensible, and the more we can all get the word on these types of “offers,” the more we can warn the youngsters and newbies against the advisability of saying, “Yes.”

    It goes along with companies allowing photographers to pay an “escalation fee” to expedite payment that is already due, or firms thinking it’s perfectly acceptable for photographers to act as their bankers by not paying them for 60, 90, 120 days and beyond, and as you well know, expenses? What are expenses? We’re expected to shoulder those, too.

    What a crock of sh-t! Arnie and I are so glad we are doing what we are doing and not starting out in this industry. I’m sure you are, too.

    Take care,

    TBC

  31. Hans March 12, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I’ve never especially cared for Frommer’s books, tho I do occastionally get one of their guides when nothing else is available. But after reading your post, I sure as hell won’t be buying anything with their name on it from here on out.

    Thanks for shining the light on these ripoff artists.

  32. Carsten Bockermann March 12, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    a few months ago I was approached by Frommer’s with exactly the terms and rates you mention. Fortunately I turned their offer down.

    Carsten

  33. Jason Clampet March 12, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    I’m an editor at Frommers.com and one of the judges for the photo contest. I wanted to respond to your blog post.

    At Frommer’s, we engage dozens of professional freelance travel photographers on a commission basis as well as license images from stock photo agencies. This year we’ll spend a substantial sum on professional travel photography. Our per-location rate is higher than just about any other competing guidebook company (I should know, I’ve shot books for two competitors myself) and it is significantly higher than the day rate for a news outfit like the AP. We also employ photo editors to work with freelance travel photographers. To me that says we’re investing in professional photographer talent, and not screwing professionals.

    Like all travel publishers, we pay for comprehensive rights when we commission photos, but we do not ask for assignation of copyright or prevent photographers from selling their images elsewhere. In fact, the commission fees we pay help many photographers underwrite additional photography of the locations we send them to. We typically bundle dozens or even hundreds of location shots into our agreements, which is much more profitable to the photographers we work with than one-off agency licenses — and the photographer gets to keep 100% of the fee we pay, not share half of it with their stock agency.

    Our Cover Photo Contest on the other hand is not a forum for pro photographers but an extension of the upgraded community features we’ve had on our site for a year and a half. In that time, users have shared thousands of their photos in destination-specific galleries (“Best of Paris,” “Best of Italy,” etc.) in the same spirit that our users have shared advice, tips, and travel horror stories in our Forums over the past decade. When people travel, they tend to like to share, too, and our website is a mix of professional and amateur content. We think it’s a great idea to let travelers show off their photos and maybe even have a shot at getting on a cover. Like many websites, we lay a non-exclusive claim on anything that’s uploaded. This isn’t sneaky, fine print stuff, it’s standard Terms of Use language that you’ll see on just about every website.

    Let’s be clear: We publish over 100 travel guides a year and only one of those will have a cover image sourced through this contest.

    Perhaps we can agree to disagree, but I wanted to weigh in and add some insight and context from our side of the business.

    –Jason

    • Bob March 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

      Jason: Thanks for weighing in here. But there are still things that I think your response misses.

      Like all travel publishers, we pay for comprehensive rights when we commission photos, but we do not ask for assignation of copyright or prevent photographers from selling their images elsewhere.

      Yes, you don’t ask for the copyright, you just take all the rights of reproduction that the copyright protects. So what’s the difference? You let photographers continue to sell their own pictures that you’ve secured for let’s see, a location is 5 pictures and it’s $70 per location so 5 into 70 is, what, $14 a photo? For virtually all rights, including, if I remember the Philadelphia contract correctly, the right to license those photos to others!

      That’s, um, something to be proud about?

      We typically bundle dozens or even hundreds of location shots into our agreements, which is much more profitable to the photographers we work with than one-off agency licenses — and the photographer gets to keep 100% of the fee we pay, not share half of it with their stock agency.

      Yes, volume sales are great, as long as they are not at firesale prices ($14 a picture for all rights). Let’s face it, you guys have to minimize your dealings with stock agencies because stock agencies would never sit still for those heavily one-sided agreements and throwaway prices. They’ve got lawyers too. It’s only the individual struggling freelance content producer that will bend to those terms for short term survival, (and long term extinction.)

      When people travel, they tend to like to share, too, and our website is a mix of professional and amateur content. We think it’s a great idea to let travelers show off their photos and maybe even have a shot at getting on a cover. Like many websites, we lay a non-exclusive claim on anything that’s uploaded. This isn’t sneaky, fine print stuff, it’s standard Terms of Use language that you’ll see on just about every website.

      Jason, puhleeze. Do you think the average traveler, whom you are so concerned about in sharing and creating community, knows that he or she is giving you guys carte blanche to make for-sale items from their vacation pictures when they enter them in your contest? Sure, take the winners pics, because they’re getting a quid pro quo for the usage.

      You guys are counting on the fact that most people will never read the fine print, and most will never miss the income from their pictures because they’re not professionals. Please don’t couch this as some kind of community service. It’s out and out rights grabs from unsuspecting civilians (aka amateur photographers).

      Your basic defense on all these points is that “other publishers are doing these things with even worse terms.” It’s kind of like me telling you I went into Barnes & Noble and boosted 7 copies of Frommer’s Guides (I didn’t, this is just an analogy), but it’s okay, because everybody was shoplifting that day, and most people took more than 7 copies.

      It’s kind of bogus logic when it’s held up to a mirror.

      Look, nobody is more sympathetic to the trials of pubishing than I am, having made a living from it in these last 30 years. And you know, we’re all accepting lesser fees and tightening our belts. I’m not one of these romantics who wants it to go back to the 80s. I understand the new realities.

      What rankles me is that your contract (and that of many, but not all I have to add, of your competitors) seeks to make up every shortfall in the business by taking it directly out of the hides of the weakest link in the publishing food chain, the individual freelancer. Offer $17 a picture…that’s fine. But make it for one or two time usage and not this bullshit “all rights throughout the universe” that your lawyers love.

      If we could both shoulder the burden of the new business realities in a relatively fair manner, both sides might survive this recession/depression in publishing.
      But if it’s up to your legal division, your gonna slowly kill the freelancers. Which is okay now that you can crowdsource pictures from gazillions of amateurs. Nobody said your lawyers were stupid, just a tad ethically challenged.

      I appreciate the fact that you’re weighing in here and understand if you can’t come back at us. I notice you mentioned you’ve shot for competitors, which means you were probably a freelancer once. So don’t do anything to jeopardize the full time gig, because it’s murder out here at the moment!

      Thanks, Bob

  34. Stephen Alvarez March 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    Bob,
    Thanks for posting. It is a disturbing trend and I see it in more and more contracts and “contests” Frommers contest would only be more galling if they charged an entry fee.

    The only thing to do is talk about these bad deals online all the time. Frommer’s will have to realize that they are damaging their “brand” by offering such ridiculous terms.
    -SA

    • Bob March 12, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

      Hi Stephen: An entry fee! Don’t give them any more ideas…I hope you are right about the realization, although you can see from the editor’s rebuttal above, they’re not too exercised about the ethics of their contracts and practices. BK

  35. Jim March 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    Please see pp 190-191 of Joe McNally’s book The Moment it Clicks, Is this what it will come to. Hmmm.

  36. Jason March 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    “Another example of pure, unadulterated bilking professional photographers out of the right to make a decent living at their chosen profession.”

    This seems to be the common sentiment here. What “right” do you have to earn a living as a photographer? You have a right to refuse work (like Bob did).

    You have no right to demand people pay you a “decent living” to take pictures any more than I have a right to demand people pay me a “decent living” for posting on this blog.

    If you can’t make money in photography, perhaps another line of work is in order?

    If a trade can be satisfactorily accomplished by amateurs, why shouldn’t Frommers “crowdsource” for their next travel book?

    • Bob March 13, 2010 at 8:43 am #

      Jason: I’ll tell you why: because the amateurs have no idea that their work is being co-opted for for-sale projects. Crowdsourcing is one thing, but this is more like “crowd-conning” or “crowd-bilking”.

      You really think it’s okay to entice people into a contest with the offer of one or two big prizes, and then take every entry and treat it as your own to make your books and products that you’ll turn around and sell, probably to some of the same people (avid travelers) whose work you co-opted to create your products?

      Dunno, dude, doesn’t sound too ethical to me. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but if I’m getting f’ed, I want to be kissed at least.

      • Bob March 13, 2010 at 11:47 am #

        IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS. THIS JASON IS NOT THE JASON FROM FROMMERS. BOTH JASONS ARE ONLY IDENTIFIED BY FIRST NAME, SO I WANTED TO MAKE THAT CLEAR…BOB

  37. Aijaz Ansari March 12, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I hope you don’t mind, but I referred to it in a message I sent to Frommer’s from their ‘contact us’ page. For the record, this is what I wrote to them:

    — snip —

    This is is regard to the issues brought up at Bob Krist’s blog, found at http://www.bobkrist.com/blog/frommers-now-fing-freelancers-and-photo-enthusiasts/

    I’m not a professional photographer but I am a frequent traveler. I just want you to know that I find your company’s take on photographers’ rights reprehensible, and that I intend to boycott you and your products, and urge all my friends and family to do the same – until you change your policy on seeking perpetual rights for submitted photographs.

    Please reconsider your position.

    Sincerely,

    Aijaz Ansari.

    • Bob March 13, 2010 at 8:37 am #

      Hi Aijaz: That works for me! Bob

  38. Tewfic March 13, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    Hi Bob,

    following your lead, i posted on my blog something about that. what also shocks me is that Rick Sammon is on the judges. he ought to know better…he earns a living selling photographs!!!

    http://thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com/2010/03/frommers-rights-grab.html

    best,

    tewfic

    • Bob March 13, 2010 at 8:37 am #

      Tewfic: It’s possible Rick signed on before reading the rules. I let him know what was going on, and I expect we’ll see something from him regarding this in the next week or so.

      I know I got involved in judging a USA Today contest, but once I read the rules, I was appalled. But the other judges and I were able to persuade USA Today to change them. However, Rick is outnumbered 5 to 1 by staffers from Frommer’s, so he may not be able to go that way. Let’s see what develops! Bob

  39. Ralph Lee Hopkins March 13, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Yikes, this is scary and is cutting the throats of the mircostock industry. Such terms will certainly cut into the licensing fees that iStock demands in the marketplace. Next up, photographers pay the publisher to be published. Hmmm, sounds like a concept. Thanks, Bob

  40. Eric Delmar March 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Really great post, Bob. I applaud your gumption to speak out against the Frommer hustle.
    I will not be buying any more of their guides, and thank you for the courage to speak publicly about this unseemly corporate practice.

    • Bob March 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks Eric. Hope you are well! cheers, Bob

  41. John Fulton March 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Bob-The problem with those assignment terms is simple. These “big” publishers are just too lazy to chase down secondary rights when they need them. I say lazy – they would say understaffed. Looks like a duck, walks like a duck……they’re too lazy. It’s too much trouble to pay secondary rights. Space rates, too, seem to be going the way of the buggy whip. Ultimately, Jason #2 may be right. We really don’t have a “right” to make a decent living as photographers. It just may be that photography has been so dumbed down that making a living at photography will only be for a few elite photographers who will shoot for the specific needs of advertising, commercial or specialty magazines. I need to stop. You got me started. LOL Best regards, John.

    • Bob March 14, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

      Hi John: Yes, Jason #2 might be right about the implications for the profession, but I still feel that if most amateurs knew that their entries were subject to being used in for-sale products, they’d object in the least, and probably ask for more than $17 for the usage!

      As for the profession….I won’t get either one of us started! Bob

  42. mike a March 14, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    want to make a small fortune in photography? start with a large one

  43. Richard Bugg March 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    Thanks Bob,
    This is a perennial problem, also here in Australia. Perhaps what is needed is a website that rates the ethical position of photography and writing competitions and publishers seeking freelance and amateur content – a kind of one stop shop that has a calendar of events, and which points the finger at competitions and publishers to avoid as well as those to support. Like a lot of these problems organization is one of the keys to success. Anyone out there know of any such sites? Please advise. I reckon it would get a lot of support.
    Cheers, Richard.

    • Bob March 15, 2010 at 9:42 am #

      Richard: That’s a great idea. Could be a good retirement project for me when the stock photo market completely dries up! Bob

  44. Tim March 16, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    Bravo Bob!

  45. Scott Evers March 19, 2010 at 6:51 am #

    Bob,

    Thanks for this very insightful article. Recently I was sent a link to Islands Magazine photo contest by some friends who knew I had some images that might qualify. When I read the fine print on that one it sounded similar to Frommer’s. What a great way for them to build up their portfolio of images to use in the future for virtually free. I did not enter. Although I do not make my living as a photographer, I am a part time professional on the side. As much as I would love to win a contest for the money and recognition, I will not enter any contest that requires entry fees or where I have to give up the rights to my work. (It may not be great, but it is still mine)I love your blog and read it daily. If you ever need an assistant to carry your bags and hold that extra light. Give me a yell.

    Scott

    • Bob March 19, 2010 at 7:24 am #

      Scott: Unfortunately, it’s pretty much a given these days that most contests are designed to garner large numbers of good pictures for nothing. Professional content providers have been getting screwed for years, and now they’re reaching into the “civilian” population. This, at a time, when you can actually license photography for a couple bucks a picture! Ah well…..Bob

  46. Paul March 19, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Bravo for covering this. As a keen traveler I like to know which publishers treat their creatives properly. Now I know to avoid Frommers.

  47. Chris March 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    I travel a lot.

    No more Frommers Guides for me, or anyone esle I tell about this. Sorry Frommers, you need to get some integrity back.

  48. Doug Diamond March 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    Funny how small the world around us really is. Just two weeks ago my wife e-mailed me the Frommers contest. I have a very large image library and thought for kicks and giggles I would send in 4 or 5 pics. I decided to read the contest rules and discovered (much to my disbelief)how they were written. I actually laughed out loud. I thought what fool would send in pictures after reading that?

    But the sad truth is that while I bemoan microstock and consider it the bane of the photography industry as a whole, I really dislike the tactics being employed by Frommers and it’s guise to IMHO get photos for free. That is worse than micro…

    I don’t give away my work ( well if I were to you had better be a really close friend) and I don’t plan on starting anytime soon.

  49. Lynn Herrmann March 21, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    from what i remember, lonely planet offered the same sort of deal for the unaware, thus their deletion as an affiliate on my site. it is imperative that we all unite on this, regardless of the spiel frommer’s is posting here. deception and fraud needs to be called what it is.

  50. Travel Stock Photos March 21, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks for posting this, Bob.
    I’ve seen this Frommer’s competetion guidlines and read it carefully. It was clear for me, that Frommer’s is another example of non-fair trade and I just skipped it. But being a non-Anglo-American photographer I didn’t know Frommers was such a big and august publisher. Those competition guidelines made me think it was a phoney monkey business minor publisher.

    • Bob March 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

      Hi Eugene: Yes, Frommers is a big house, ironically started by a travel writer, Arthur Frommer, who’s obviously forgotten what is like to be a content provider.

  51. JoeG March 24, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Bob, You are & have been an unwitting mentor of mine for years, but this post bumps you up a notch to my hero!

    I have had publishers in Hawai’i do a similar tricky thing with “re-use at their discretion”. e.g. license 2 stock photos for a calendar for $100 per shot for 5 years (yikes), but the contract provided them use “on any product currently (or in the future) manufactured in their product line or an subsidiary company lines (they have many subsidiary companies in multiple languages). The clause that killed me and compelled me to drive down to the publisher and ask face to face if they were crazy…..
    If publisher decides to re-publish or re-license the photos, the photographer “automatically” agrees to an additional use fee of $75/ image, which includes the (now famous) “in-perpetuity, in digital, analog or any format now or in the future devised & [my favorite], “throughout the universe”.
    Really? Next we’ll start seeing “throughout the omniverse (r)”
    >>>Wondering now, since I just published “Omniverse”, can I get paid royalties on every contract it’s on (in perpetuity) ? Maybe I found a way to make a (decent) living with photography??

    • Bob March 24, 2010 at 10:59 am #

      Joe: Yes, the galaxy isn’t enough for these guys….it has to be the universe! Bob

  52. Vi March 25, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Bob, thanks for pointing this. I will update post on my blog with this info about copyright issues.

  53. Ed Rooney March 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    “Contest” is just another term for “crowd sourcing.”

    I must say that I sold an image to Frommer’s through Alamy last year, and they paid a fair price.

    Edo

  54. Malcolm Matusky April 4, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    Just say NO to rights grab!
    Creative people do have power, though it is often un-exercised, say NO. No you cannot screw me, No you cannot have intergalactic rights in perpetuity. No you cannot have my work for free and profit from it, NO, NO, NO….
    Why do creatives give in so easly? Many reasons, but the lack of understanding their fundamental power to say NO is prime.

    Regards,

    Malcolm

  55. Brian Carey April 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    … and to think I entered that Frommers contest, seen it advertised on Photo.net. I got to pay attention more to the fine print and I’m going to check and see if I can withdraw, screw them!

  56. ron April 9, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    when will this society learn to value the arts

    • Bob April 10, 2010 at 6:01 am #

      Probably when we start paying teachers more than hedge fund managers….which is to say never! Bob

  57. Shane Rich April 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I’d say the majority of contests I see have this same fine print clause. I hate to think how many photos have been stolen and used without even a cent of compensation to the creator. I’m on the boycott bandwagon on this one and many others. Thanks for calling attention to it.

  58. Mark Loundy April 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Just curious: Did you obtain a re-use license from Aaron Johnson to use his “What The Duck” strip on your blog? Displaying it here is not even close to Fair Use.

    Mark Loundy
    Twitter: MarkLoundy

    • Bob April 12, 2010 at 5:37 am #

      Mark: Nice try, but Aaron’s terms of usage simply state that you can reproduce his strips if the what the duck.net is displayed. I try to display it twice…he embeds one usually, and I usually repeat it. Any other questions regarding usage rights? Bob

  59. Steve April 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    I’ve been a photographer now for about 20 years, and have heard many, many, complaints, discussions, and opinions about usage rights issues. What I have found missing the most in these many discussions, is photographers taking responsibility for their side of the deal. Photographers don’t have to agree to these terms, if they feel they are being “screwed”, as you say. But they do, over and over again. It’s why usage rates and terms are what they are. This is basic economics, supply and demand. When there is a larger pool of supply than there is of demand, prices fall, it’s that simple. The pool of professional freelance photographers is very large, when you add photo enthusiasts, that pool of course gets even larger. Digital photography, and the ease of distribution of those images has contributed to the ever increasing supply of available images. Photographers need to take more responsility. But’s that’s just my opinion for now. And as Malcolm said so eloquently in post #62, just say NO, it’s that simple. Thanks for your forum of discussion.

    Steve

  60. Tom April 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    Never buy Frommers books… Got it. And the reality is that they print those books for $3.00 a copy and sell them for $20.00. What greedy scum.

  61. wnight July 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    The contest is a scam because they’re intending to get non-winners that are still worth money to them. They aren’t limiting themselves to contest-related usage but they’re paying (not) as if they were.

    However, I’d never buy anything without broad perpetual rights. Or, at least the perpetual right to re-license the work at current rates (even inflation adjusted) for the future publication.

    I’ve seen too many people trapped with something they want to re-release and be unable because of copyright campers. You wouldn’t want to be unable to republish a popular book, or translate it to a website, simply because the creator of some image died or decided to charge more now.

    Fifty years ago we couldn’t foresee putting decades of journals on CDs and re-releasing back-catalogs. Today licensing is often the biggest impediment to making that information available to everyone.

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