Besides orders from publishers and print requests from individuals I get many requests for other types of uses of my images and some of them are fairly unique. I’ve had requests for my photos to be used on rubber stamps, magnetic car decals, tattoos, greeting cards, educational flash cards and other types of requests that I don’t recall at the moment. Some of my images were even used in a training video for Harrier jump jet pilots at the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, CA. One of the more common requests I get is for use of my photos as models/references for artist’s paintings or drawings.
All such uses are covered by copyright law and most folks recognize this and ask permission for such use. And almost without exception they ask in a professional, polite manner.
- Just for the record, it’s my general policy to donate use of my images to educational/conservation organizations and require a reasonable licensing fee for most other uses. For me it’s a matter of principle – after all I have a lot of time, effort, skill and money (lots of money!) tied up in my images and gear and to me it only seems fair and equitable.
Two days ago I received an email from someone (hereafter I’ll refer to her as “Jezebel” – she used another name but I don’t know if it’s real, I intend to protect her identity and besides Jezebel seems more fitting anyway…) requesting to use one of my grebe images as a reference for her artwork. She didn’t identify the precise image she’s interested in, only saying it was one of a Western Grebe “dumping its chicks” back into the water. It may be this image or…
it could be this one or it might be another one – I have several others.
Based on her IP address she’s from the Prescott Valley, AZ area and I include her email below. It’s verbatim except that I’ve redacted the name she used and her email address.
“October 10, 2016- Hi Ron. I’m drawing a western grebe and would like to reference your grebe dumping its chicks in order to work on detail? Got a problems with that let me know. Until then? I’m drawing from a text with a grebe the size of a mouse. I would appreciate getting a study of two in on your grebe but notice you’re rather greedy with “use”. Not sure how you can have a website with photos and than not expect them used, especially since there are like 5 of us who care about birds. Anyhow, if you can get over your selfing wild that does not really belong to anyone? Contact me at ***************@*****.*** That’s my personal email, is private, is not to be shared, and blah, blah, blah. And? Thanks. Your photos are lovely.”
I was cooking dinner when I read this on my phone and my jaw dropped to the floor. Mia had a similar reaction when I read it to her. The following portions of Jezebel’s email in particular got my attention:
- I “notice you’re rather greedy with use” of your images. Huh??? It’s being “greedy” to expect accountability, fairness and the law to be followed when others use my intellectual property? I don’t think so!
- ” Not sure how you can have a website with photos and than not expect them used”. Jezebel is obviously saying that if I post images to my website I should expect them to be used by others without permission. And the implication is that it’s perfectly OK to do so. It isn’t OK and it isn’t legal. And if it happens and I find out about it I can and do pursue my legal options.
- “especially since there are like 5 of us who care about birds. I’m not quite sure how to interpret this but I suspect Jezebel may be suggesting that bird photographs are relatively worthless because almost no one cares about birds anyway. If so, you can imagine my reaction…
- “if you can get over your selfing wild that does not really belong to anyone? Contact me at”… Get a clue, Jezebel – my images belong to me!
Needless to say I’ll be denying permission for Jezebel to use my images but based on the tone and words of her email she may use them anyway. If she does and any of her work matches my photos on reverse image searches she’ll be hearing from my IP attorney.