Hairdresser slapped £950 bill for pictures!!

By AndyAdvertising, Topical debateComments are off

Images aren’t free – new evidence emerges!

Interesting article from Bachelor & Brignall in last Saturday’s Guardian Money section (9th March 2013). This is the bit where the Guardian trouble shoots consumer rights on behalf of the public who have come a cropper in some some way often with a big faceless immoveable brand.

In this case a hairdressers had launched a new website, unwittingly using two images which they had “found on Google”. In actual fact the images belonged to Getty Images and the hairdressers had no right to use them to promote their salon as they hadn’t paid the £475 per image for 6 month’s usage. They were however unaware of this fact and had assumed that because they weren’t watermarked were free to use.

But images aren’t free, in most cases. Someone, somewhere will have taken the time to produce an image, possibly hiring props, models, stylists and even locations. All of them need to be paid for. True, the proliferation of low cost photo libraries such as iStock and Shutterstock have made people think that one image can’t possibly cost £475 to use. What’s more, because most people now have a reasonable quality camera on their phone I would suggest that the art and craft of taking a high quality image to promote one’s brand has become devalued. It’s easy isn’t it? Just point and shoot. I would also argue that people have become accustomed to seeing ‘snapshot’ style images as you might find on most people’s Facebook accounts.

So, what are the options for putting imagery onto your new website safely and legally?

As with most things in life, it depends on your need and your budget. Here’s the InTouch guide:

Low cost options:

1. Take pictures yourself. Borrow the best camera you can and plan your shoot. Experiment if you’re not used to doing it. Ask a friendly designer or photographer you know for advice. You hold the copyright.

2. Set up an account with a low cost photo library such as iStockphoto or Shutterstock. Royalty-free images cost between £10-£60 or more for the really good ones.

More expensive:

3. Hire a photographer. You can get a pro photographer for £600 a day or less and if you plan it well, could get a couple of hundred images for you to use as you wish in most cases. However, they still hold the copyright unless they waiver this.

4. Buy a high quality rights managed image from Getty. As we now know, these can cost around £500+ per image, depending on usage requirements (Getty have specifications you need to declare such as how long you want to use the image, UK or Worldwide etc).

The Guardian couldn’t get Getty to backdown completely but they did accept that the hairdressers were probably unfamiliar with the world of image copyright and licensing and unlikely to be aware of the level of charges. They still insisted on a compromise of £500.

Whatever you decide to do, the safest option is to assume that a found image isn’t free to use. And the best option is to ask a professional.