Photographers have always tried to ensure that the theft of their images don’t get stolen. When it does, there is often a giant mountain made out of a molehill thanks in part to our current trends in online culture. And most recently, photographers have been up in arms about contracts from musicians. If you haven’t heard about the Taylor Swift incident starting with Apple then trickling down to the photographers who photograph her, then you’ve probably been living under a rock.
And yet, there is a much more silent form of theft that has been happening for years.
Photographers are artists. Musicians are artists. What makes them so? They provide a creative and unique service that requires a talent and skill that is associated with a specific part of the brain and also knowledge of how to actually accomplish their craft.
Yet for some odd reason, photographers for years have thought that it’s completely okay to use music from popular musicians under major record labels for their own BTS (behind the scenes) videos.
Don’t believe me? Then why does YouTube have a policy on this? Sure, folks were stealing the music and there was a crackdown. But look at Vimeo: Vimeo has forever been championed as a community where you’ll be able to view higher quality videos and for creative artists. Indeed, this is what you see as a result with lots of creativity being spread and fostered.
But if a photographer decides that they’re going to incorporate music from the Neighbourhood into the BTS shoot and quite obviously hasn’t bought the rights or leased the music, then that photographer is no better than the people who print out someone else’s images and sell them on the streets or even those who use images illegally for commercial benefit.
What’s the difference here? The fact that you’re using the music in a video to promote your own work is intended for eventual commercial benefit. You want to work with other brands or people because you obviously want money. Anything that a business (and you hopefully have an actual legitimate business when doing this) does is for profit and the accumulation of income. So if you’re using stolen content, then that’s not fair.
Speaking of fair, no photographer here can plead Fair Use because your video is well over a couple of seconds long and has the music track through the entire piece. Vimeo and other sites have free music that you can use with attribution even for commercial reasons, why not use those?
It’s overall appalling that many photographers want to cry wolf when their images are being stolen, but they think that it’s completely okay when they steal music.
It’s all theft.