NPPA & Other Groups Respond to Yahoo! CEO’s Comments on Professional Photographers

May 28th, 2013 by and tagged , , , ,

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer is attempting to deflect criticism arising from comments last week questioning the need for professional photographers. Mayer, who was speaking at a press event for the photo sharing website Flickr, seemed to suggest that technological advances had weakened the role of the professional photographic community:

“There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with the pervasiveness of cameras and the number of people uploading photos] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore,” Mayer said.

The CEO’s comments quickly spread, and have been harshly denounced by many.  Today, in a letter  written on behalf of the National Press Photographer’s Association and seven other organizations (American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP),  Centre of the Picture Industry (CEPIC), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), Picture Archive Council of America (PACA), American Photographic Artists (APA) and Picture Archive Council of America (PACA)), NPPA President Mike Borland expressed the group’s disapproval.  “We find these comments demeaning and devaluing to professional photography and photographers,” Borland wrote, “especially coming from a company like Yahoo! that derives millions of pageviews from photographs, has a number of photosharing applications in its portfolio, and is attempting to monetize those images for even greater profits.” The letter was also copied to the entire Yahoo! board of directors.

Mayer has tried to distance herself from her original comment, calling it a “misstatement” that was taken “out of context,” and apologizing via Twitter.  The Yahoo! CEO says her statements were related to Flickr’s increased storage capacity, and that there is no need for “Pro” accounts with expanded feautures because all users are now afforded a terabyte of memory.

Regardless, Borland noted that the NPPA “find[s] it extremely difficult to understand how anyone, especially someone in [Mayer’s] position could say such a thing in any context.”

Photo editor Jim Colton, a four decade veteran of organizations including the Associated Press, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated expressed similar sentiments, remarking in a blog post that Mayer’s comments were “an insult to all the professional photographers throughout history who have sacrificed everything to their craft…including their lives.”

Underlying much of the pushback against Mayer’s statements is the idea that amateur photographers simply do not posses the skill sets to do the jobs of their professional counterparts.  This conviction was aptly captured by well-known travel photographer Peter Adams, who noted “Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gismos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”

NPPA President Borland also wrote that “being a professional means more than earning a living from a skill . . . it means educating, informing and inspiring the public everyday through our work. It also means abiding by standards, ethics and principles.”

The NPPA has requested that Mayer offer a public apology, and has offered to meet with the CEO and her staff to assist Yahoo! in developing a “better understanding of and appreciation for the photographic community.”

Posted in National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, photojournalism | No Comments »

NPPA & Other Groups Oppose Texas Drone Bill

May 16th, 2013 by Mickey Osterreicher

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), joined by The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., The American Society of Media Photographers, The Radio Television Digital News Association, and The Society of Professional Journalists, has submitted letters to each of the Texas Senators, expressing extreme opposition to House Bill 912, which has passed the Texas House and is quickly making its way through the Texas Senate.

The bill makes it an offense to capture an image using an unmanned aerial vehicle, (UAV), commonly called “drones,”  “with the intent to monitor or conduct surveillance.” This is the core of the offense, but there is no definition regarding what it means to “monitor” or what it means to “conduct surveillance.” NPPA’s attorney Alicia Calzada wrote, “We believe that this bill will create a significant impediment to journalists and others who are engaged in constitutionally protected speech.”

The current version of the bill has no exceptions for first amendment activity. “A journalist (or ordinary citizen) monitoring an environmental spill, documenting the aftermath of a disaster or simply monitoring traffic conditions could easily be committing a crime under this bill,” Calzada explained.

Multiple NPPA members also sent letters of objection. NPPA testified against the bill before a House committee earlier this session.


Posted in First Amendment, First Amendment rights, National Press Photographers Association, Newsgathering, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Public Photography, Texas, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) | No Comments »

AFP and Getty Seek To Limit Damages in Photographer Copyright Suit

May 8th, 2013 by Mickey Osterreicher and tagged , , , , , , , ,

****** UPDATE 8/8/13

According to reports the Washington Post Company, one of the last remaining defendants in the AFP v Morel copyright infringement case, is close to reaching a settlement agreement with Daniel More, who claims that the publisher used his photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake without his permission. It also appaears that the other defendants, Agence France-Presse and Getty Images, Inc., cannot reach agreement and are expected to go to trial on Septmeber 16, 2013 in front of U.S. District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan.


****** UPDATE  5/22/13

A federal trial court judge limited Mr. Morel’s damage claims against AFP & Getty finding that they are jointly but not individually liable because Getty’s alleged infringement stemmed from that of AFP.  Therefore they should not be held liable to pay separate penalties. This is a clear rejection by Morel that Getty should be held separately liable because it continued to use the photos after AFP’s”kill notice” to take them taken down.

The decision reduces Morel’s damage claims to eight — with a possible award for each one of those claims rather than the multiplier factor Morel had proposed.

“As with individually liable infringers, the statute authorizes a single statutory award per work for all infringements in an action against jointly and severally liable infringers, regardless of temporal or casual breaks in the course of those parties’ infringement of a given work,” said U.S. District (SDNY) Judge Alison Nathan.

Morel’s attorney, Joe Baio, said that while he was disappointed in the ruling, he was please that the court “reaffirmed” the liability of the defendants and that Getty’s continued use of his clients photos despite the kill order may also support willful infringement finding.


The defendants in the copyright lawsuit brought by photojournalist Daniel Morel are seeking a ruling from the federal trial court judge limiting their damages in the case. Attorneys for Agence France-Presse AFP) and Getty Images Inc. were in court on May 7, 2013, arguing that it is unfair that they should have to pay separate penalties for infringing upon Morel’s copyright by using the photos he had posted from his Twitter account.

Morel alleges that AFP used eight (8) of his aftermath photos from the 2010 Haiti earthquake without permission and then licensed them to Getty.  In response to a declaratory action brought by the defendants, U.S. District (SDNY) Judge Alison Nathan previously found that the terms of service set forth on the social media website did not grant the defendants the rights to such use.

Lawyers for AFP and Getty claim that since they are accused of participating in the infringement together – they should only have to pay a single penalty for each infringed work – where Getty’s alleged infringement came as a result of AFP’s improper use of the photos.

“If AFP and Getty are jointly and severally liable, there can only be one damages award against them under the plain language of the statute,” said James Rosenfeld, one of Getty’s lawyers. Morel’s attorneys countered that because Getty continued to use the photos even after AFP issued a “kill notice” to take them down, that Getty should be liable to pay separate damages. “What did Getty do? They persisted,” said Joseph Baio, adding “the jury should be able to determine if that was a separate act.”

The judge reserved her decision for a later date. The trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 16,  2103 and will resolve the question of damages and other claims and defenses not already decided.

Posted in AFP, Agence France-Presse, copyright, copyright infringement, Daniel Morel, Getty, Lawsuit, photojournalism, Twitter, Washington Post | No Comments »