California Court Places Value On Photographer’s Credit

Carolyn Wright, who we interviewed here, has a fascinating post on her blog detailing the result of a recent photography-related court case.

According to the post, Chase Jarvis, a professional photographer licensed thousands of photos to K2, a sports goods company. The relationship didn’t work out but K2 continued to use Jarvis’s pictures without paying him and without giving him credit. Jarvis sued… and won.

So far so interesting, but it gets better. In awarding Jarvis damages, the court had to come up with values for each use of each image. The breakdown included these figures:

For each slide that K2 lost and didn’t return: $500
For each online use of an image without permission: $461
For each failure to provide a credit:
Online: $50
Print ads: $200

There were other awards too and it all added up to a tidy sum of money for Chase Jarvis — $250,507 to be exact. But it also provides some valuable information for other photographers.

First, the court stated that its figure of $461 for improperly using images online reflected “fair market value.” If you’re selling usage rights to a client and wondering how much to charge then, you can do worse than use that figure as a guideline. Much will still depend on how much the client can afford to pay and how much less you’re prepared to accept, but at least as far as online usage is concerned, that figure can make a useful target for Rights-Managed photos.

And if you find that any photo of yours has been used online without credit, you now have ammunition to demand a $50 fee.

Second, much of the reason that the court ruled in favor of Jarvis was that the agreement between the two was limited in time. Most of K2’s problems occurred because the company continued to use the images after the contract had expired when it no longer had the right to do so.

If you’re selling the rights to use your image then, it’s worth making sure you get those rights back when the client has finished using them — or even if he doesn’t use them at all.

The most valuable lesson of all though is that when your rights have been infringed, taking action can be well worth the effort.

[tags] carolyn wright, photoattorney, chase jarvis, k2 [/tags]

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