The Digital Journalist
Common Cents: S.I.D.: Friend or Foe?

by Mark Loundy

"The person who knows 'how' will always have a job. The person who knows 'why' will always be his boss."
- Diane Ravitch, professor, Columbia University Teachers College

The next time your friendly local college sports information director calls you with an assignment you might want to consider just how friendly he or she really is. If their school is a member of Collegiate Images, you really need to watch your pocketbook.

Collegiate Images is all about rights management. They want to be the single clearinghouse for all "copyrighted intellectual property content for colleges, universities, conferences, bowl games and broadcast rights holders." The problem is that one of the things that they advise member institutions to do is make sure that photographers sign a contract that, "clearly establishes your school/conference/bowl game as the copyright holder for all images captured by your contracted photographer."

If you want to make a living shooting sports, don't risk your future by destroying the market for sports photography. If you can't keep your copyright, you're not shooting on a professional level. No matter how good your images are you will never be more than a sophisticated hobbyist. Professionals retain their copyright. They are firm, they are business-like and they are prepared to walk away from bad deals.

Collegiate Images recognizes the future value of your work. Make sure that you do too.

The Good

- Photographer Harrison Shull for walking away from a rotten deal from Meredith Integrated Publishing.

- The Chronicle of Higher Education for readily paying invoices for additional usage beyond the initial assignment. But you do have to ask.

- North Jersey Media (last month's "Bad") Magazine Division PE, Michael Bocchieri, for trying to get their currently lousy contract improved. If you know him, give him some moral support.

The Bad

- The Kansas City Star. You'll get $55 per assignment or $110 for a full day of work for them. It's enough to make Wilbert Harrison turn around and go back to North Carolina.

The Ugly

- Orlando CityBeat for its copyright-confiscating-$30-per-assignment contract.

Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.


- I recently saw a message posted on a photojournalism discussion board with what started out to be good advice. "...never give up your rights as a freelance photographer to anyone," began the writer. But then he finished with this jaw dropper: "...unless you are shooting for a wire service." Huh? If anything, wire services should pay higher rates because their wide distribution dilutes the market for your images.

- Something new is in the works. The same folks who created have built Photoshelter, a no-commission photo-marketing site that's worth considering.

- In a recent column I featured Brightroom as a "Bad" entry and all of their 700+ affiliated photographers as a collective "Ugly." One of those shooters contacted me and gave me several examples of assignments that do make business sense for him. If you can make Brightroom work for your business I say go for it.


Collegiate Images April '05 newsletter (Scroll down to "Photographer Disclaimer Language.")

Lyrics to "Kansas City"


NPPA Cost of Doing Business Calculator

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Resource page

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Editorial Photographers Cost of Doing Business Calculator

Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group (Discussion Archives)

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

© Mark Loundy

Mark Loundy is a visual journalist, writer and media consultant based in San Jose, California.