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The death of RM


Digital Disciples make up the second-largest group (35%) and consider themselves serious amateur photographers“. According to The Kodak Photo Futures Report, the same Disciples are “the most likely to explore photo editing software and have ambitions to make money from their hobby”. Who knew?

First who knew that Kodak was still in the photo business and then, according to their report on amateurs, that the second biggest group of snappers where busy finding ways to generate some income from their photography. This means there is a Tsunami of photographers out there ready to break open the gates of microstock, mid stock, and traditional stock. Currently, because of pretty effective brainwashing, they mostly think Creative Commons is the only way to get published. Created by sympathizers of the Orphan Bill and believers in the Free internet (EFF), (“Creative Commons was founded in 2001 with the generous support of the Center for the Public Domain“, boast their website), it creates an incentive to give away rights for free. Supported by Flickr, it has quickly become the only license option most amateurs know. These San Fransisco based free thinkers mix free, as freedom of expression, with free, as I will not pay for it.

And unfortunately, while they themselves ask for donations, they do not provide any education on how to truly license an image for money.

Now, the professional trade association like ASMP, APA could help. But there two issues: they are too busy fighting internal political battles or finding sponsorships, and most importantly, what would be the purpose of a professional trade association if they started helping amateurs?

The PLUS coalition could be a great candidate, but it is currently so complicated that one needs a Ph.D. ( doctorate) in advanced licensing to figure out how it works and what it does. Furthermore, with a board and committees almost exclusively made up of commercial stock veterans, it seems to lack thorough knowledge of the editorial licensing world.

So where does that leave us? Well, once again, we see the microstock and mid stock taking charge of these amateurs looking to reap some benefit of their hard work. Not only in offering a simple platform to license their images but also in educating them. The only issue here is that there are all solely RF, making it seem like the only license available is royalty-free.

By not exposing themselves to the general public, the RM and editorial agencies are taking the risk of becoming an exception rather than the rule and let the RF model become, de facto, the universal and only model of licensing. Since no one is required to have any type of degree to purchase images, not even have full knowledge of licensing options, or even copyright laws, there is a good chance that future photo editors will not fully comprehend the RM concept.

Furthermore, agencies, by not implementing DRM ( digital rights management) solutions or being blind to the necessity to have an image monitoring system will probably feel that RF is just an easier and cost-effective way to license of image and completely drop RM. That would be incredibly destructive to an industry that currently makes most of its revenue from RM.

The solution: create a standardized, automated, very easy to use ( a la CC) rights-managed tools that could make it appealing to use. Embed DRM into images or at the very least, generate auto-reminders that licenses are about to expire. Go out and evangelize photography newcomers on their licensing options. and mostly, for the photo industry to stop behaving like an old gentlemen club.

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