Intellectual property rights, a refresher course

Know your rights - you don't have any

One of the the things that is always trying for sex workers is where to get your photos taken and how to deal with a photographer. I see this issue from both sides of the fence and hence have some insight for those who need to have current and constant photos.

Some things to remember and keep in mind:

1. A photographer owns the photos they take of you, they can pretty much do whatever they want with them. In extreme cases they can even prevent you from using them if you didn’t get them to sign a license agreement.

It’s called intellectual property and it means at its basic concept that a artist owns the labor of their artistic work.  Madonna never sued Penthouse for her nakey photos published without her consent. When a photographer retains a release it makes it easier for them to resell photos but thy don’t need a release to resell. It’s not required it just opens up the resell field to a wider audience.

If the photographer is using a photo they took of you for their own self promotion, are self published and or representing the photo as an artistic work and its not being used commercially you very likely could be shit outta luck with any recourse. Even a verbal agreement isn’t considered valid, It’s pretty much worth the paper you wrote it on.

I have all the latest gear

As sex workers we are concerned with identity and being discovered, many of us don’t show our faces and live double lives and that’s a real concern. Also you need constant an updated photos as an escort and that can not only be costly but be a source of stress. So what do you do? You can do a few things to protect yourself but knowing how the industry/photographers works  it will help you make an informed decision.

1. Buy out

It can be expensive to buy out the rights but its an option. Music clients do this all the time, record labels have the cash and the inclination to buy out photos of their artists.

2. No resale agreement

Ask if your photographer will sign an agreement not to resell your photos. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If they do they will likely ask for a higher rate.

3. Don’t goof off in front of the camera. If you don’t use nude pictures of yourself on your site then don’t pose for nude photos in front of the camera. Don’t flash your vag because you think its funny if you don’t show vag pictures on your site- Photographers capture moments and that will be a moment someone will wanna get a snap of.

The best thing you can do is chose someone who’s professional and whose work you like. Ask them for a reference if you don’t personally know anyone who has shot with them. Ask them their resale policy, get to know how they do business and as you do when working as a sex worker…. go with your gut.

It works better then being a bitch

If after all that you find you have a situation, then I suggest this solution…get your flies with honey not vinegar.

Example1: I shot a couple of girls together for a stylized shoot with props. Awhile after the shoot i displayed one of the photos from the shoot i rather liked. A day after it went up one of the models informed me it wasn’t her favorite picture and asked her if i could swap it out with something she liked better. I asked her which photos she liked better, she was really sweet and I really wanted her to be happy. So I swapped out the photo to what she wanted and I did right away. Everyone was happy.  Thats using honey.

Example2: I shot a girl several times, several years ago. We were friends. I did it for super cheap. Hundreds of dollars off my normal price because we were rather close. As the years went on we became not so close and now are as far from friends as two people could get. I was using one of her old photos (which I happen to think is a killer shot) as self promotion. I had been using it for almost 3 years from before the rift between us.

Recently this lady decided that she no longer wanted me to display the photograph. She sent me a nasty comment on a blog to that effect. She was all full of vinegar, no honey. My immediate reaction was “fuck her, I own the photo she cant even be civil so she can screw off” hey I’m being honest, that’s what i thought. If she had been more adult about the situation and sent me an regular email asking me to remove the photo and addressed the situation civilly, even though we had some bad blood it would have been no big deal to just remove it to make her happy.

Not a good choice

Thought process: Not a big deal, she asked nicely, don’t want to create anymore bad feeling = remove the photo.

That’s using honey, not vinegar to get a photographer to do something you want, that clearly they don’t have to do and you have no legal standing to get them to do. So be nice about it, ask nicely. If the goal is to get them to remove the photo then do what you need to do, to get them to do what you want. Photographers are not immune to flattery, to civility… hell ask them to do it as a personal favor, appeal the greater good. Whatever it takes. Odds are you will get what you want. No one wants to have an unhappy model, or a strained relationship, so make it easy for them to make the choice you want them to make. Use the honey not the vinegar. It works.

That’s not what happened here, instead of honey she used vinegar and pissed me off by being a fucking bitch and ordering me around and threatening me on a blog comment.

Say cheese

Now eventually I did take the photo off display. Obviously it really mattered to her and not so much to me and contrary to her actions, I’m a reasonable adult and don’t need more problems with some woman that cant control her actions or emotions.  Also it was on a long forgotten site that I hadn’t accessed since last year. If she had just sent a civil email she would have gotten what she wanted without all the drama.

eh … maybe the drama is what she wanted, who knows. But for those of you that DON’T like drama, tension and just want to do what you do with out all the excess bullshit, then maybe take some of what I said into consideration when picking someone to shoot you. Make an informed decision, pick wisely and if something happens you don’t like then be smart about how to correct it.

You can trust me... i'm a Hobbyist

oh and watch out for the “hobbyist with a camera” those dudes pass around your photos on private boards, (especially if you are a lady who doesn’t show her face in her photos) trying desperately to look cool to other guys… Hell sometimes I think that is their “real” hobby.

10 thoughts on “Intellectual property rights, a refresher course

  • I have to agree with you very strongly. I’ve always told people on matters of IP to be firm, but always nice.

    There is a time to get mean, a time to declare war and a time to kick ass and take names, but the vast, vast majority of situations don’t meet that.

    Reading through the two scenarios, I think you handled them both beautifully. You definitely had the option to going a different route with the second one, but it would have been more headache than it was worth. After all, one picture could have consumed multiple hours of your life if she had decided to harass you via takedown notices, legal threats, etc.

    Would she have? Probably not. But the risk is there.

    You handled it right on all occasions. Besides, you have enough killer shots in your photo library, losing one due to a former friend’s pettiness is no major loss in the big scheme.

    Thank you for posting this though. After being in the French Quarter for Mardi Gras, I have to wonder if other men and women out there need this lesson too…

  • Most of my pics were shot by amateurs… with my camera (there’s even a cell phone shot or two in there). That is probably the most secure way to do it.

    I let hobbyists take my pics (nonnude)…. with my camera (and then I send them the downsized, watermarked, face-cropped ones for their personal collection). I also give them the usual talk about no image posting without asking me first.

    As much as TFP/TFCD is tempting, there are too many discretion-leaks to use those pics for escort pics… though it’s a great way to figure out which photographers might be open-minded to shooting you as an escort, and which don’t shoot quality or professionally.

    Years ago, I shot TFP with the photographer I’m paying (alot of money to) in April to shoot me, and so am absolutely confident in the quality, professionalism, and way that he works (all pics burned to a CD before I leave, buy-out rights, yay!).

    That bites that girl didn’t handle things more maturely – drama sucks!

  • Willywonka4u

    I deal with copyright and intellectual property rights in my work all the time. The laws on the subject is absolutely insane.

  • Vbvbob

    Rachel- he may burn your photos to a cd before you leave, but it’s still on his memory card. Your photosay end up in his ‘ private’ area on the pond’ blue board. That’s how I saw laynie harpers, Amy taylor ‘s paris’s Taylor Paige and many many more’s faces. Also, many non flattering shots where men like *namedeleted* and *namedeleted* would make snide
    comments about the girls who paid good money to keep them private.

  • @ Vbvbob i do agree with you but could you please not use peoples real names when commenting – unfortunately i had to edit them out. Though i do think what they do is despicable


  • Anon

    You are right in that all of this is very thorny, but point #1 is not quite right. A photographer does own exclusive copyright to an image that they take by default, that is 100% true. But they are not free to do with that image as they wish. If you are identifiable in the picture, a model release of some sort is pretty much required for any sort of commercial use, and many, many types of non-commerical use. (Now, if there’s no face, is that considered identifiable? Depends…)

    So definitely ask for #2. If the photographer refuses (even at a slightly higher rate), run, don’t walk away. It’s a completely reasonable request since you are paying them for the shoot.

    I would avoid amateurs (unless of course you know and trust them), because they have little to lose by breaking the rules. Since they have no photography business, damages are going to be small. A professional photographer should not only be familiar with these sorts of arrangements, but also has their business to worry about.

    In short, be explicit. Have a contract that states what’s allowed with the photos and what is not before you step in front of the camera.

  • Hello Anon and thanks for posting.

    You actually dont need a release to resell a photo. Some outlets ask for one (stock houses, some publishers etc) however that doesn’t mean its required by law. That’s the third party requirements, it’s not a legal requirement.

    So while it might be harder to resell for commercial purposes without a model release you are not legally required to get one to sell your work. You shot it, you own it and you can sell it.

    As far as #2 goes if you expect a photographer to alter their ability to make a living on their work then you should expect to pay more for that. The point of this entry was to give a little insight to people abut how the photo business works so they cold make more informed decision. You paying a photag for a shoot makes you like any other client (regardless if you are the model or not) and if you want a buy out expect to pay for it.

    I personally believe you should always avoid armatures but that’s really because they take bad pictures. No one needs that.

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