Online piracy is hurting the photo and video industry. The problem is that the people who should care the most are often the worst offenders.

Why Do I Care?

I’ve often been told that piracy helps sales. I can tell you from first hand experience this isn’t true. I’ve had numerous books, online classes, and digital products that have underperformed or been canceled because they “flopped.” Meanwhile illegal downloads and bit torrent have been through the roof.

I also encounter clients who all the time push us to use copyrighted music. I’ve spoken and attended many a conference where photographers who would sue you in an instant for unauthorized use of their images play a slideshow with music they have no rights to use.

Why Should You Care?

Copyright isn’t a matter of convenience. You can’t expect your rights to be protected while you trample the rights of others.

As a content creator, you need to respect the rights of others. I repeatedly see the rights of others abused all the time in photography and video production. Be sure to preserve the rights of others as youd expect your rights to be upheld.

  • Releases Make sure if you are shooting on a location or property that requires permission, you get it. Talent or model releases are also pretty essential if you want to monetize your photos as well. You can get a free release form app from ASMP right here.
  • Music This is the greatest area of abuse across the industry. There are affordable stock music options for purchasing or licensing music (my favorites are Songfreedom and Pond5). You can also hire a composer or use software tools to create your own music. What you cannot do is used recorded music made by others. Giving credit is not enough. I am sickened by the number of slideshows and videos I see created using copyrighted music and the number of excuses and loopholes others try to give to justify its use.
  • Stock Footage and Photos Make sure the footage you choose to use is properly acquired. There are numerous libraries and sources for licensing footage, backgrounds, or photos. Some are buy out libraries, others offer per item purchases; even still you can find public domain collections (check out this page and this page). Make sure your footage is properly licensed.
  • Client Provided Assets Just because the client gives you materials doesn’t mean they are free to use. Ive faced many instances of clients providing copyrighted materials that they did not have rights to use. Their assurances of its okay or this is for internal use only would hold no bearing to my being held liable for violating the law. Be certain that what you are given to use is materials that are properly cleared.

What are your thoughts on copyright and doing the right thing? To learn more, you can also visit the Copyright Alliance.