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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

As you all know, I am an extremely intelligent person, with a brain the size of an asteroid.

But even my great intellect has stalled when faced with the concept for a proposed bill to be placed in front of the European Parliament. So I need your help.

The bill, put as simply as possible, seeks to restrict the freedom of panorama in all EU countries. The freedom of panorama, which you may not know you already possess*, allows you to take a photograph in a public place. That’s basically it.

But in a corner of your photograph might be the Louvre Pyramid, the Angel of the North, the Kelpies, the Sagrada Familia, the Guggenheim Bilbao, the Atomium — some structure that someone, somewhere, has copyrighted. Under this proposed law, that will make it illegal for you to sell or share your photograph. Full stop.

What I can’t get my head round is — “Who Will This Benefit?”

Governments usually pass laws to benefit themselves or some noisy sector of the community. Occasionally they benefit the public as a whole. The only reason governments build roads is to collect taxes from the people living at the other end (OK, that’s cynical).

But I really cannot see who can benefit from this proposal. The owners of the Atomium? They might make a couple of euros from selling their own postcards. Yet at a stroke it will criminalise hundreds of thousands of innocent photographers. Is that a good idea?

Of course the law will be ignored and flouted everywhere except the UK, where it will doubtless be enforced with Draconian rigour. But the authorities can be as unpredictably vindictive as 14-year-old girls, and this is one more arrow for their quivers.

Île de France MEP Jean-Marie Cavada proposes to restrict the freedom of panorama in all EU countries, intending to limit the impact of “American monopolies such as Facebook and also Wikimedia” and serving to protect “a sector of European culture and creativity”.  fotoLibra contributor Catherine Ilsley writes “I can only conclude that his aim is to reduce EU regulations to the lowest common denominator. This is unacceptable in my opinion as it takes away established rights enjoyed in other countries.”   In the UK the freedom of panorama is permitted under section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. The proposal was stapled to a motion tabled by German “Pirate Party” MEP Julia Reda and apparently was not at all what she had proposed.

Predictably, the UK media was outraged: “Now EU wants to BAN your photos of the London Eye and the Angel of the North!” screamed the Daily Express.

A letter in The Times last Friday, signed by luminaries of the British photographic world along with Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, strongly protested against the proposed legislation — “If such a measure is adopted in the future, most websites and most photographers would instantly become copyright infringers with any photo of any public space which features at least one structure designed by a person that is either alive, or died fewer than 70 years ago.

Nevertheless the European Parliament is voting on the proposal on July 9th. Please let your MEP know how you feel about this move, whether you are for or against it, and ask how you can find out how he or she voted. In case you don’t know who your local MEP is (I didn’t), here’s how to find out:
https://www.mysociety.org/contact-your-meps/?gclid=CL7J3JeLt8YCFYPLtAodIvABDg

I’ve written to mine, and this is what I’ve said.

Dear MEP

On July 9th the European Parliament is voting on a bill to restrict the freedom of panorama —  the right to take photographs in a public place.

Effectively this will instantly criminalise hundreds of thousands of innocent photographers, from selfie seekers to the 40,000 members of fotoLibra, a picture library which gives photographers a platform from which to license their image rights.

It is hard to see who will benefit from this unnecessary piece of legislation; the vested interests run so deep they are invisible to the general public.

Please may I, on behalf of fotoLibra and its contributor photographers, ask you to oppose this legislation, which can serve no public good.

Many thanks for your attention.

Yours sincerely
Gwyn Headley
Managing Director, fotoLibra

Please don’t copy and paste my words because these systems reject identical letters, but feel free to adapt them in any way you want. Let the politicians know how you feel!

Catherine Ilsley says “I intend to write to Mr. Cavada and my local MEP about this. I have already signed the petition and shared it on my personal / photographic pages on Facebook and on LinkedIn. In addition to mailing fotoLibra, I also sent the petition to the BFP and another Europe-based stock library that I contribute to. Next up are UK-based photographic magazines. I would welcome any further ideas as I’m not sure that I can do any more at a personal level.

Let’s all make a fuss about this. This is a needless proposal which can only hinder the great majority of citizens.

Here’s an example. Under Belgian law the following image uploaded to fotoLibra by Chr•s B•k•r is illegal, so please look away now if you are in Brussels:

Atomium

Atomium

This is what they want you to see — an image of the Atomium on its Wikipedia page:

The Atomium as it appears on its Wikipedia page

The Atomium as it appears on its Wikipedia page

*unless you live in the jack-booted juntas of France or Belgium, which already have laws which drastically curtail the freedom of panorama.
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The pulchritudinous chanteuse Taylor Swift attracted plaudits this week for defying the might of Apple, the world’s most profitable company.

She wrote “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation” (during Apple Music’s three-month trial period).

Her whole piece was packed with praise for Apple, but she resolutely made her point, and it worked — Apple backed down and will now pay artists during the initial trial.

Well done Taylor. The labourer is worthy of his hire. People need to be paid for their work. fotoLibra jumps on any and every attempt we see by corporations to dodge paying photographers their rightful fees.

Taylor Swift doesn’t need to pay photographers, apart from organised photo shoots, obviously. But we can’t help but notice the draconian conditions imposed by Ms Swift’s promoters on photographers who attend her concerts. Here are some extracts from her photographer’s contract (my emboldening):

“The photographs, taken in accordance with Paragraph 1 may be used on a one time only basis.
“You and/or your employer will be responsible for all costs related to the rights granted in this Authorisation.
“On behalf of yourself and the publication you expressly grant the perpetual worldwide rights to use the published Photographs for any non-commercial purposes (in all media and formats), including but not limited to publicity and promotion on their websites and/or social media accounts or pages.
“If you or the publication breach this Authorisation, all rights are granted herein will be immediately and automatically rescinded.
“If you fail to fully comply with this authorisation, authorised agents [of Taylor Swift] may confiscate and/or destroy the technology or devices that contain the masterfiles of the Photographs and other images, including, but not limited to, cell phones and memory cards, and the Photographs and any other images, and eject you from the venue, in addition.”

Ah, bless!

How To Be Cool

April 29th, 2015
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Last Thursday fotoLibra exhibited at fotoFringe at London’s King’s Cross. fotoFringe is the leading picture buyers’ expo in the UK, now that BAPLA has relinquished the Picture Buyers’ Fair after losing half its members to the recession. Over a hundred picture libraries exhibited.

We only had four definite appointments booked, relying on a lot of passing trade and the fact that we were offering a huge bar of chocolate in exchange for business cards.

None of our four scheduled appointments showed up.

It would not be an exaggeration to say we were disappointed. But the following day we were pleasantly surprised to see that Photo Archive News report’s lead image featured Yours Truly in full flow with a bemused picture buyer.

However one drop-by meeting came with an interesting story. Julian Jackson, a writer and PR for green and technology businesses, recently blogged about an academic study at the University of Minnesota funded by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), an American professional photographers’ organisation, which showed that professional photos create much more of an impact on readers than amateur ones. They used eyetracking to get an objective measure of how long 52 people looked at photographs from newspapers and news organisations. They discovered that professionally taken photographs scored a surprising 90% more ‘eyeballs’.

Meanwhile fotoLibra’s Yvonne Seeley told me that a couple of times last week picture buyers had muttered something along the lines of “wurra wurra wanna instagrammy sorta pickcher like, wurra, innit, yoknoworramean, like.”

This is not to decry the educational achievements of picture editors, all of whom appear to have double firsts in Art History, but rather to express their embarrassment in having to ask for “poorer-quality-style” images (albeit still at 300 ppi) in order to try and attract a younger audience.

We all know about level horizons, fill-in flash, f-stop effects, exposure — but some buyers are now actively searching for converging verticals, lens flare, focus failure, in a tragic effort to capture teen spirit.

It’s doomed. As an old fart, I can tell them. I remember very clearly being a teen, and one of the things that stands out in my memory is our instant group ability to spot (and laugh at) a fake. There is nothing an elderly 25 year old could write, say or do to make us believe he or she was 18 like us. It was sad, the way they tried to be cool, to ingratiate themselves with us.

They couldn’t take our pictures. We’d know right away. And we’d pity them.

And now it seems they were barking up the wrong tree anyway, because professionally taken pictures really do attract more attention.

Don’t pretend to be cool. Do your own thing, and be cool in your own way.

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

… we hope?

If you’re a Picture Editor, that is — at fotoFringe 2015.
fotoFringe

http://www.fotofringelondon.com/

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Don’t you just hate it when the phone rings with the number “WITHHELD” and a disembodied voice (which certainly hadn’t learned English at its mother’s knee) disinterestedly interrogates you about your most intimate personal details before deigning to reveal that all they wanted to talk about was the state of your massive overdraft, which is the last thing you want to discuss?

Well I do. And what makes it even more annoying is that the traffic is always only one way. You can’t call THEM and interrogate them.

Have you noticed that broadband download speed (i.e. people selling things to you) is ten times as fast as broadband upload speed (i.e. you trying to sell your images to people)?

You can’t write to Them, either. At least I can’t. I was being unjustly bullied by a bank so I wrote to them and explained the situation. Four times. My letters were ignored. So I wrote to the Big Kahuna who at least had the grace to respond, get the situation sorted and pay me a minuscule fee in compensation before being led away in handcuffs for perpetrating financial crimes immeasurable to man.

And what has this to do with fotoLibra? Well, this morning a City firm — not a behemoth, but a known name — wanted to buy an image from us.

Let’s call the buyer Rhiannon. She finds an image she likes for a project, then finds she has to register with fotoLibra in order to buy it. Offhand I can’t think of any website that allows you to buy without asking for some form of registration.

So Rhiannon dutifully fills in our simple form and submits it.

Nothing happens.

She tries to register again. Still nothing.

Eventually she rings us up. We explain that she has to click her verification email to prove that she is who she is.

“What verification email?” She never got her verification email.

She went away to find out why. And quickly came back with the reason. Rhiannon’s coders had blocked our verification email because they had never heard of fotoLibra.com. So our confirmatory message — which she had requested — was arbitrarily dumped.

So we had to sell the picture to Rhiannon manually.

Only emails from FTSE 100 companies, Amazon, Microsoft, and other megalithic businesses appear to be allowed through. What we have to say is clearly not of interest. What hope is there for the smaller company?

We are being coded out of the marketplace.

How It Works

February 2nd, 2015

If fotoLibra is informed of any unauthorised usage of a fotoLibra image by a UK limited company we will immediately follow it up with a demand for payment. If that isn’t successful, and the image belongs to one of our Pro or Platinum contributors, we will institute court proceedings.

Getty Images allow bloggers to use their 30 million images for free. We will not pursue bloggers who use watermarked fotoLibra images, but we will send a request for them to link to the original Preview image on fotoLibra.

However, the commonest misuse of watermarked images from fotoLibra is by aggregation sites.  The Internet is a wondrous thing, God wot, and sometimes it will do things without reference to any human agency. Someone with a name like Dave Spart in NYC has created an aggregation site to generate stories. Its sole raison d’être is to attract humans to click on a link. That is all it does, and all it wants to do. As a result Mr Spart is now a billionaire.

What his app does is borrow, steal or create a story, usually in pictures, which then has a compelling headline added, so people are enticed to click and read it. The Mail Online loves using these. Spart then charges his advertisers per click. And he is very successful at attracting advertisers.

You’ve all seen what I mean: You’ll Never Believe What This Teenage Mom Found In Her Attic! or Awesome Landscape Photos Show Terrifying Effects Of Nature; 23 Fruits And Veggies That Practically No One Knew Existed. #5 Is Trippin’ Me Out or This Pilot Stuck His Camera Out The Window And What He Captured Will Blow Your Mind. You know the sort of thing. They Cannot Help Capitalising Every Word. And It Clearly Doesn’t Take Much To Blow A Typical Punter’s Mind.

One of the biggest click stories recently was based on a book titled “What I Eat” by Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel. The writer and photographer spent four years and a million dollars researching, writing and photographing the book.  It was concentrated into 20 images online, headed with catchlines like “What People Eat Around The World”, “See The Incredible Differences In The Daily Food Intake Of People Around The World” and “80 People, 30 Countries And How Much They Eat On A Daily Basis.” Spart probably made a fortune from the feature. No payment — or even credit — was made to D’Aluisio and Menzel.

Is this fair? No.

Will it be stopped? No.

Will D’Aluisio and Menzel be compensated? No.

Will Spart get richer? Yes.

Will fotoLibra pursue unauthorised image usage on our contributors’ behalf? Yes, under the terms we have described above.

Will we sue Mr Spart? No. He’s in the US, and he’s richer than us. And he is probably unaware his site is using any of our images … if it is.

I’ve never found any of our watermarked images on his site.

But I’m still annoyed!

I Am Copy Editor

October 14th, 2014
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

During the Frankfurt Book Fair, just past, my bedtime reading was an ebook, a thriller recommended to me by Yvonne: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, whose name, bafflingly, does not appear on the cover. It’s a rollicking and undemanding read, so I recommended it to my friend and travelling companion Mike Shatzkin, who immediately bought and downloaded it.

I had been complaining of the poor editing quality of most ebooks — the Copy Editor, diligently scanning for literals, is now an extinct species in the wild — and I Am Pilgrim hits you in the first line, with a Beatles quote and a mistake:

“THERE ARE PLACES I’ll remember all my life — red square with a hot wind howling across it …”

Such a shame that people don’t seem to be bothered any more. If you know enough about style to start a chapter with the first three words in small caps, then surely you’ll know that ‘red square’ should be ‘Red Square’ — and your copy editor should be on to it like a vat of hot metal.

Mike’s version was published by Emily Bestler Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, whereas my British version was published by Transworld, owned by Penguin Random House. Entirely separate companies, one in America, one in the UK.

Nevertheless the fact that they didn’t exchange digital files for the ebook and each created their version from scratch somewhat surprises me. “Keep the change” is not a frequent phrase in my vocabulary, but this seems like a wanton waste of money.

Mike said “What’s the problem with Red Square? It looks OK to me.” And in his version — the American edition — it was.

The troubling thing for me is that the American typesetting is more correct than the British version. Here they are, so you can compare them:

BRITISH  vs  AMERICAN
Chapter One   vs   1
FIRST THREE WORDS in small caps   vs   First three words in U/LC
space dash space   vs    em-dash
red square   vs   Red Square
8-Mile   vs   Eight Mile
Theatre   vs   Theater
burnt   vs   burned
Choo’s   vs   Choos

and I’m sure there will be examples on every page, but you get the drift.

Two nations separated by a common language, indeed.

First page of I Am Pilgrim, UK edition

British edition

First page of I Am Pilgrim, US edition

American Edition

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Last night a brilliant idea came to me in my dreams. Why not program the CCD sensor in your camera to mimic the effect of your favourite film stock? (if you can remember what film was.)

As is often the case, someone else had not only had the same idea but had done something about it, and what’s more, many, many years ago and far more intelligently than me. Instead of the insanely complex reprogramming of hardware, people have created Photoshop plug-ins that can mimic the film stock of yesteryear. But by experimenting with the Channel Mixer settings, you can replicate these yourself.

Years ago I set the fotoLibra subscription level at £6 as month because that was the cost of a roll of Fuji Velvia, the finest film for recording buildings in the British countryside because it loved doing greys and greens. And that’s all I photographed really, because as you all know I am NOT a photographer, I am just a bloke with a camera.

If you went to a fairground, or visited New England in the fall, or went on a beach holiday, the Velvia would be useless.  Instead you’d be taking boxes and boxes of Kodachrome, incomparable with reds and yellows and oranges.

And now there are plug-ins, or Actions, or Channel Mixer tips available for many of your favourite film stocks. To show you how they work, I’ve hacked a couple of my own images about. Criticism of my work is NOT solicited or even permitted; these are simply examples to show the effects these Channel Mixers can achieve.

I am awed by the quality of work produced by fotoLibra’s contributors, and I’m diffident about offering any hints or tips to you, but some of you may have forgotten these tricks and might enjoy playing with them.

Original Image

Original File

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Velvia Effect

Velvia Effect

Pontcysyllte Acqueduct

Kodachrome Effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VELVIA EFFECT USING CHANNEL MIXERS

1. Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Channel Mixer> Click OK
2. Make these changes to each of the red, green, and blue sliders for each
output channel
3. These changes are guides which you can vary, but try and make sure the Total always = +100%

Output Channel: Red
> Change Red Slider to: 141%
> Change Green Slider to: -20%
> Change Blue Slider to -21%

Output Channel: Green
> Change Red Slider to: -21%
> Change Green Slider to: 144%
> Change Blue Slider to -20%

Output Channel: Blue
> Change Red Slider to: -21%
> Change Green Slider to: -20%
> Change Blue Slider to 144%

Original file

Original file

 

FOT70.jpeg

Velvia Effect

Kodachrome Effect

Kodachrome Effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KODACHROME EFFECT USING CHANNEL MIXERS

1. Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Channel Mixer> Click OK
2. Make these changes to each of the red, green, and blue sliders for each
output channel

Output Channel: Red
> Change Red Slider to: 140%
> Change Green Slider to: -20%
> Change Blue Slider to -20%

Output Channel: Green
> Change Red Slider to: 10%
> Change Green Slider to: 80%
> Change Blue Slider to 10%

Output Channel: Blue
> Change Red Slider to: 0%
> Change Green Slider to: 0%
> Change Blue Slider to 100%

I don’t think anyone has managed an ORWOChrom effect yet but I will tell you the moment I hear about it.

The last time I had a brilliant idea in my dreams I briefly woke and wrote it down. When I awoke, the piece of paper by my bed read “Rubber Hammers”.

Hotmail and fotoLibra

August 7th, 2014
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This is getting beyond a joke.

Yesterday our web editor Jacqui Norman sent out a Picture Call to all our contributors. Nearly 50,000 photographers have signed up to fotoLibra since we started ten years ago. When people leave, we remove their names from our mailing list.

Yet Jacqui’s simple request for images to be purchased by a long-established and reputable British magazine, paying fair prices, has not reached 3,850 of our contributors because Hotmail has classed it as spam.

They are preventing us from communicating with members who have voluntarily signed up to fotoLibra’s services.

How can they do that?

They just can. Some Hotmail computer in Seattle noticed a small company in Britain was sending out 3,850 emails to Hotmail subscribers once a fortnight, and arbitrarily blocked it.

Nobeody read the emails. Nobody checked the content. Nobody asked the sender (that’s us) what on earth it thought it was doing, emailing nearly 4,000 Hotmail members. It just blocked us.

That’s harming its own subscribers more than it harms us, because it’s our Hotmail members who are deprived of submitting images to the Picture Call. People who use other email suppliers get to see the Picture Call, submit their images and will no doubt make sales.

But Hotmail subscribers won’t get that chance. That’s tough on them.

And exasperating for us.