Just when we thought things couldn’t possibly get much worse for photographers who unknowingly give up their image rights to services like Unsplash, things take another turn for the worse. The real bad part here is that Dropbox, one of the largest cloud based services around, has now got in on the act. A service called Dropbox Paper which allows teams to collaborate in online projects will now have access to over 850,000 images that have been quite honestly snatched from talented photographers around the globe; and they won’t get a single penny for their work. Sigh.
This news will come as no surprise to our readers as we have reported on Unsplash and their unsavory tactics before. Back in December when they partnered with some pretty big names in the photography accessories and services world we talked about how they were orchestrating one of the largest image rights grabs ever. On the surface of things it looked like they were running a great competition for photographers to enter. Submit your photo, and there was a small chance that your image might be critiqued by some big wig in a suit, and your work might be seen by large multi-national companies. No harm no foul right; only there was a foul, and it was a nasty one.
Every photographer who has ever submitted their work to Unsplash has given up all image rights to each photo submitted. That photo and your rights to market and sell your work have gone for good the second you upload it to Unsplash. It’s really a shame that photographers are exploited like this. If that wasn’t bad enough, now photographers have another huge slap in the face to deal with too thanks to a new partnership between Unsplash and Dropbox. Dropbox Paper has been around for a while, but the latest evolution of the service is troubling.
The premise of Dropbox Paper is simple, and the new partnership with Unsplash was recently talked about on Medium (another company that supports Unsplash). Dropbox paper is simple. Sign up, create documents and project boards in the cloud, and then collaborate with your team. Oh, and now you can use over 850,000 images that Unsplash has swiped the image rights to for free. That’s right. Millions upon millions of people could very well use your image as a stock image in their online documents with Dropbox Paper and you won’t receive a single penny. Marvelous!
Unsplash did say however that Dropbox will cite the name of the photographer who took the image, and will link back to their account! WOW! How mighty generous of them. Yes, please link back to my account so more of my work can be taken and used for free! Please, for the love of all things, stop using services like Unsplash. Value your work and stop giving it away for free. It hurts you, and it hurts the whole photography community the world over.
This new link with Dropbox is everything that’s bad about Photography. This is exactly what photographers don’t want, yet these companies market themselves as gateways to greatness, and are freely exploiting photographers the world over who think they’re signing up for a service that will help them grow in the photography community. They prey on photographers who think services like this will give them their big break, and it truly seems like Unsplash (and now Dropbox) think they are helping, when in fact they are making a mockery of photography.
I used to use Dropbox as I thought the company had a moral compass, but it seems as though that may have broken, and that’s a real shame. Exploitation is never a good thing. We need to take back what’s ours, and we need to help stop blatant image rights grabs. Protect your images. You worked for them, so make them work for you and sell them instead.