Photography Rights Grab, copyright, First Saturday, Blanche Ames Gallery

Upcoming Events and a Note to area artists

Mark you calendars :

Saturday, March 27, 2010 The Artists Gallery will be holding the closing reception of the 9th Annual Box Show and Silent Auction. The event takes place from 5 to 9 P.M.

An example of The Box Show entries to be seen in The Artists Gallery Exhibit
© Calvin Edward Ramsburg. Photograph by Russell C. Poole

Sunday, March 28, 2010 the Frederick Arts Council will again hold an Artists Market at the Cultural Arts Center in downtown Frederick, MD. The event takes place from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M. and is located at 15 N. Market Street. Free and open to the public so stop by and shop for works created by the 30 local and regional artists who will be exhibiting.

The Blanche Ames Gallery, located at 4880 Elmer Derr Road, continues to celebrate Children’s Art Month with an ongoing display of works by students at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Frederick. More information can be found here.

Coming up in April - The Blanche Ames Gallery will host an exhibit of color photographs by Larry Costello of nearby Middletown, MD. Mr. Costello’s images are inspired by the fading beauty of flowers as they near the end of their lifespan. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Sunday April 4, 2010 from 12:30 to 2:30 P.M.

Also in April - The Artists Gallery will present “Observations” paintings by Tina Lund and “Natural Progression” paintings by Christine Stovall. An opening reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, April 3, 2010 from 5 to 8 P.M.

A special THANK YOU!! to everyone who came out the Frederick County Art Association’s March meeting to hear Russ’ presentation on book publishing. It was a great turnout and an enjoyable evening.


We weren’t planning to post a blog entry with such depressing content but we continue to see one issue pop up all too often which adversely affects all visual arts folks including painters and photographers and felt it was important to shed some light on the issue. This is the problem of “rights grabs” being done under the guise of contests and general submissions or the classic comment “if you give us your image (for free) we will give you a credit line, or consider you for our next paying job” or whatever equally inane “compensation” you would care to substitute in this now familiar story of the abuse of artists due to their capitulation to ridiculous terms or lack of business knowledge / negotiating skills.

Frequently the misuse of an artist’s work comes from a lack of understanding of copyright laws on the part of either the artist and / or the one requesting the images and may even be an innocent oversight but should never be left uncorrected. Compounding the problem is the (thankfully) occasionally encountered greed of some users or plain old arrogance and indifference - the “I should be able to use this however I want” attitude. Read and understand every agreement you are asked to engage in or find someone who can explain it to you! A conversation with another local photographer last year indicated this person was not completely aware of how a government agency intended to use entries to one of their promotions regardless of whether the image was chosen for use or not. In this instance the rules stated
the mere act of submitting an image gave them complete and unfettered rights to use your image in any form or manner or to license it to others in perpetuity... You might as well have given up the copyright too because the complete control that was being required over your original creation left you with next to no rights!!

Unfortunately we see rights grabs like this being promoted on a regular basis in far too many forms, and it is not limited in scope. Mark Loundy writes in his Common Cents column for the online magazine Digital Journalist about the “good, bad, & ugly” of rights grabs - the recent reference under “Ugly” to a Fredericksburg, MD client was actually about a Frederick, MD client....right in our backyard folks! Photographer Bob Krist writes of problems with well known travel guide company Frommers, and the PhotoAttorney site discusses a few recent cases.

Sadly many new artists and photographers, and far too many experienced ones as well, do not understand their rights under Copyright Laws nor do they read and understand the numerous contracts, contest rules, and other rights grabs being done. There is NEVER anything wrong with insisting on being paid fairly for the work you create, and using licensing terminology to control how that work is used by others. If your work is needed or good enough to publish you should never settle for a credit line alone unless there is some other significant and tangible benefit to You. Any artist may enjoy seeing their name in print but that alone will never buy you even a cheap cup of coffee...

Keep in mind the company, business, etc. looking to use your work fully expects to make a monetary profit or benefit with publicity or some other tangible perk from that use. Even non-profit groups have a budget for such license fees, some more than others, but our experience along with that of many of our peers has been to hear the classic “we’re a non-profit and don’t have much money so how about letting us use your work
this one time for free and we’ll try to make it up to you...” Push back folks!! DO NOT give your work away without some form of legitimate compensation or value to you in return or at the least a restrictive licensing agreement to protect you. If you fail to watch out for yourself you not only hurt yourself but you will hurt everyone else creating visual imagery as well.

A final thought : You may be an artist just starting out today but decades into the future that licensed image could well generate a modest amount of additional income for you or your heirs. Think about it.