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Thread: Save the Singaporean photographers

  1. #1
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    Default Save the Singaporean photographers

    An interesting read about copyright law in Singapore and the Singaporean photographer, as well as how an establishment of a Photographers' body will protect the photographers' rights to ownership of intellectual property and to increase the image of the local photographer.

    Click here for article.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Great read! All PGs out that please take note. Thanks for the article
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    What??

    Just read for fun?

    How do we go about effect this change?

    Can somebody who knows how start something?

    I would if only I knew how.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by Caspere
    What??

    Just read for fun?

    How do we go about effect this change?

    Can somebody who knows how start something?

    I would if only I knew how.
    Basically, the articles just tells us what is happening now. Its up to us PGs to make the change. First and foremost, we need to decide. Money vs Rights. Can't have both so make a choice. We are service providers. When we are asked to provide a service, we do it for money or are we thinking of our rights. Most PGs are making a living out of this. We shoot, we get paid, we leave. Thats life. Until the IP rights are stiffen in Singapore. Deal with it. Read before signing anything. Bottom line "Money vs Rights" u decide
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    A most important yet overlooked issue. Thanks for posting it.

    Simply put, as long as one is hired or commissioned to take pictures in return for a fee or an agreed upon compensation, the copyright of the work belongs to the client.

    Its fine if we are aware of it. I worry for the newbie photog who isn't aware of this for reasons of ignorance or because copyright has not become an issue for them. Of course there are also many who are aware ( as seen from the numerous protests i read here by photogs who cry foul when contest organisers place a condition on unlimited use of images submitted).

    In my working experience i do not mind surrendering copyright for a paid job. Especially for commercial work. Occasionally i would ask and place into writing, that i be granted permission to use the images for self-promotion purposes i.e portfolio, website.

    Reading the article, i would have to agree that we are lacking in a professional body such as a union that would fight for Photographers rights. Perhaps I could be wrong as i am not very aware if there are any such as a Professional Photographer's association, for example. Readers who know better please enlighten me.

    I had experienced working with a relatively new magazine a couple of years back. The editor had approached me asking if i would be interested to contribute. He told me i had creative freedom to express me ideas.Wanting the experience i agreed. Fast forward to a photo session, i was aghast to discover that the editor came along and wanted to direct me. And to ad insult to injury, he even brought "tear sheets" along to show me what he wanted. I shrugged and just listened to his intructions. He directed the models and i just composed and shot. Sounds easy enough and yes the editor got the shots he wanted. But me? I did not feel that sense of satisfaction.I could not feel that pride of ownership even when the magazine was published and my name was credited there. It just wasn't the way i had pictured it. I had been reduced to just a robotic machine to press the trigger for the editor. Personally, i feel had the editor held a creative discussion before the actual shoot so we can go over details like concept, location, choice of models, i would have felt alot better.

    With such an association, photographers may also assert their right of creative control. Let me relate something. While attending a talk last year by a commercial photographer, during a Q&A session someone in the audience asked "who has the final say? the Art director-/Stylist or the photographer". The Photographer's answer was that "in singapore, the art director-/ Stylist has the final say". This i think is may be another contentious issue for photographers.

    Let me say i have nothing against stylists. Photographers should be working together with art directors and stylists. But i feel when it comes to the image,let the photographer decide. Its what he is paid to do.

    As a reader of PICTURE magazine which is a magazine that features interviews with established and up and coming photogs i learned that in the USA, fashion photographers get creative freedom and it is even encouraged. They get to decide what model, location, concept, etc. Should'nt this be more like it?

    Perhaps professional photographers reading this can correct me on this if this is the real situation in singapore? or is this priviledge only accorded to the creme de la creme people like Fashion Photogs Wee Khim, Chuan Do, who seem to be having a lot of fun churning out wonderful pictures which bear their signature..i guess they've earned the celebrity status enough to not be directed upon..perhaps?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Get your point Cobalt. I agree totally. In every industry, the best of the best always gets the first slice of the cake, in fact they get to choose what kinda cake they want. But we must all understand. They too were newbies, its how we want to strive to be up there like them. But on the other hand, most PGs are doing it as a hobby and sometimes earning a quick buck or two. So I guess the line has to be drawn. As a hobby, take all the phtos you want. You shoot it you own it. But you don't get paid. Thats a fact. You wanna talk about money, they brush up on the legal issues and terms that might have an impact on your career as a pro photographer.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Regarding to the copyrights to the photos... the blog did mention that the onus is on the photographer to apply clause S30(3) allows for The operation of subsection (4), (5) or (6) in relation to copyright in a particular work may be excluded or modified by agreement.

    Also he did recommend... I quote "Photographers should band together and prevent the exploitation of their works.....Without co-operation, photographers as individual actors will always be shortchanged and unable to exercise fully their rights and creators and authors of their works."

    So it's still up to the photogs making our stance.
    Gallery | Facebook Page Spreading the Good photography.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Uh, just my 2 cents worth

    copy right is present in any for on Original- Literary, Dramatic, Artistic and Musical work. In which Photos are considered under the Original artistic works. So technically, the rights for the photos belongs to the photographer if he'she hasn't been under the employment act which states an exchange for benefits for the works done within the limits made known to the employee. So in any case the issue of rights start from the initial signing of a contract, (bare in mind that a verbal contract with a neutral 3rd party is still valid in the eyes of the law). The PG needs to be given ample time to look through the contract before signing it, and clarifying all the clauses before entering into a legally binding contract. After which when the contract is signed, it will be non voidable unless a breech is sustained by the employing party. There are also ways in which a defense can be used in cases regarding copy rights. If you guys are interested, i can take some time to post up defences regarding copyright laws as well as contract laws. =)

    Hope i'm not getting OT here. =P i have a tendency to type things that are non related without knowing. haha

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by COBALT
    A most important yet overlooked issue. Thanks for posting it.

    Simply put, as long as one is hired or commissioned to take pictures in return for a fee or an agreed upon compensation, the copyright of the work belongs to the client.
    Which is only fair. If you are employed, e.g. in an office or a factory, the product of your work also belongs to the company, not you. Why should photographers have any privileges here? If you want to keep the ownership of the work for yourself, work on your own time and money.

    As for the thread title: judging by this forum, photographers in Singapore aren't exactly an endangered species.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf
    Which is only fair. If you are employed, e.g. in an office or a factory, the product of your work also belongs to the company, not you. Why should photographers have any privileges here? If you want to keep the ownership of the work for yourself, work on your own time and money.

    As for the thread title: judging by this forum, photographers in Singapore aren't exactly an endangered species.
    Your post reflects how typical Sg photogs feels about their rights.

    I think some people looks from a different point of view.

    ie. What you shoot is yours to keep. Even for an assignment, it should be on a specified-time use basis and photogs still retain the rights to resell the photographs after the agreed execulsive use period.

    The bottom line. Which exist in minute minority... such photos becomes somewhat like passive income to hedge against their old age "retirement".


    Also, to be specific... hobbist photogs are thriving in Sg... those bread and butter type may soon be endangered.
    Last edited by CYRN; 11th January 2006 at 11:05 AM.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    This part is interesting. My understanding is that it is normally the creative director (eg of the ad agency) who decides how the shot should be in terms of concept, composition, etc, while the photog just presses the button (and helps make sure the lighting works, focus is correct, white balance ok, etc).

    Of course, if the creative director is smart, he would tap on the photog's expertise, and refine his concepts along the way. But it was made clear to me that the creative director calls the shots, because he's billing the client, and he's paying the photog.

    It depends on what you were commissioned to do. If the client or the agency trusts you or likes your style, you might get to exercise total freedom, but there is nothing wrong with being a button pusher per se, if that's what they want, as long as they paid you properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by COBALT
    I had experienced working with a relatively new magazine a couple of years back. The editor had approached me asking if i would be interested to contribute. He told me i had creative freedom to express me ideas.Wanting the experience i agreed. Fast forward to a photo session, i was aghast to discover that the editor came along and wanted to direct me. And to ad insult to injury, he even brought "tear sheets" along to show me what he wanted. I shrugged and just listened to his intructions. He directed the models and i just composed and shot. Sounds easy enough and yes the editor got the shots he wanted. But me? I did not feel that sense of satisfaction.I could not feel that pride of ownership even when the magazine was published and my name was credited there. It just wasn't the way i had pictured it. I had been reduced to just a robotic machine to press the trigger for the editor. Personally, i feel had the editor held a creative discussion before the actual shoot so we can go over details like concept, location, choice of models, i would have felt alot better.

  12. #12

    Smile Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    welcome to the real world here. this is where one's people's skills will be tapped. it is a collaborative effort where 'team' members, ad included, work together to deliver the shot/s required. rarely are photographers given 'full' freedom of expression. in the longer term, one should strike a balance between one's creative expression and the demands of clients.


    Quote Originally Posted by COBALT
    I had experienced working with a relatively new magazine a couple of years back. The editor had approached me asking if i would be interested to contribute. He told me i had creative freedom to express me ideas.Wanting the experience i agreed. Fast forward to a photo session, i was aghast to discover that the editor came along and wanted to direct me. And to ad insult to injury, he even brought "tear sheets" along to show me what he wanted. I shrugged and just listened to his intructions. He directed the models and i just composed and shot. Sounds easy enough and yes the editor got the shots he wanted. But me? I did not feel that sense of satisfaction.I could not feel that pride of ownership even when the magazine was published and my name was credited there. It just wasn't the way i had pictured it. I had been reduced to just a robotic machine to press the trigger for the editor. Personally, i feel had the editor held a creative discussion before the actual shoot so we can go over details like concept, location, choice of models, i would have felt alot better.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by CYRN
    Your post reflects how typical Sg photogs feels about their rights.

    I think some people looks from a different point of view.

    ie. What you shoot is yours to keep.
    Let's compare it to another profession, e.g. a computer programmer. He/she also produces "intellectual property" of an immaterial nature which can be easily copied. Now, if (s)he is hired to work on a product for a company, can they sell it on their own?

    On the other hand, if you develop some software on your own time with your own resources, you are of course free to licence it to whoever you want, and it doesn't have to be an exclusive licence either.

    So, why should it be different for photographers? I really can't help the impression some photographers think they are above mere mortals and are entitled to special prerogatives.

    Also, to be specific... hobbist photogs are thriving in Sg... those bread and butter type may soon be endangered.
    As long as there is a demand for photographic services, there will be jobs for photographers. Whether the market is big enough to support everyone who wants to be a photographer is a different thing. In this sense, the jobs of some photographers may be endangered, but hardly the photographer as a species.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf
    Let's compare it to another profession, e.g. a computer programmer. He/she also produces "intellectual property" of an immaterial nature which can be easily copied. Now, if (s)he is hired to work on a product for a company, can they sell it on their own?

    On the other hand, if you develop some software on your own time with your own resources, you are of course free to licence it to whoever you want, and it doesn't have to be an exclusive licence either.

    So, why should it be different for photographers? I really can't help the impression some photographers think they are above mere mortals and are entitled to special prerogatives.



    As long as there is a demand for photographic services, there will be jobs for photographers. Whether the market is big enough to support everyone who wants to be a photographer is a different thing. In this sense, the jobs of some photographers may be endangered, but hardly the photographer as a species.
    Firstly, we are discussing about photography as practiced in Sg vs some other countries that the IP of photogs are much more "respected".

    There's some slight difference in your comparision. Software codes from an individual, normally does not from the product as a whole, the company usually employs multiple programmers and combine various "modules" to have a commercially viable product.... thus the end product is covered in the IP but not the individual modules.

    Then again, I dunnoe how many gifted programmers are there in Sg that can program modules with ultimate portability WRT to call funtions to the main codes.

    This part, I'm not very sure, but if you have a unique enough code or modules, you can actually register a IP copyright, much similar to patents. ie, the case of creative vs apple for the use of the menu functions on their ipods. Or even GNU project programmers tha distribute freewares, they do have the rights to the application.

    But in this case, music industry shows how "powerful" individual rights are, it pretty obvious that although the syndicates have the rights to the music, they also pay royalties to the singer for every song (CD/DVD/MP3 or what ever media) they re-produced.... this is a more apt comparision that we are looking at.

    Yes and No, photographer as a species might be endangered and be replaced with person-with-cams.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    Which is why there needs to be a national association of accredited photographers...I think I mentioned that in passing in the consumers corner some time back...

    Anyway, according to "International" (read: "Western") norms, the commissioning company has to state in its commissioning agreement how much of the rights they wish to purchase, whether it be for a full buyout, or for only a period of time, and if for a period of time what media would they employ the image in and the markets the image would be employed in. To extend the rights purchase over and above that previously agreed upon, both parties would then have to renegotiate terms. Otherwise, the rights of the image reverts back to the photog. This by the way is also how local modelling agencies charge fees. If the models and their agencies get to exercise such rights why not the photogs who are actually doing creative work? because the modelling agencies are organised

    Is this a divinely expected right? No. It is one that photogs need to demand. And as expressed in the article pointed to earlier in the thread, it is up to the photog to demand that right. If local photogs are not educated on this, those not in the know would remain exploited in this regard and end up underpaid and under-recognized.

    And not only that, photogs need to understand that if an image turns out like crap, it is ultimately the photog that gets the blame, not the stylist, not the art director...I mean, you look at a lousy image, who do you think of to blame for the lack of quality? The art director? The stylist? So, as the photog, he or she must make sure that at the end of the day, he or she can accept the image created as their own in the eyes of the world. And to do that, they must stand up for their creative imput into the project. Sure, the art director represents the view of the client, and is responsible for translating the clients idea into a brief for the photog, but as the one ultimately creating the image, the photog has to be the creative spark that melds the clients needs with their own vision. And give direction, not only to the models, props, lighting, but also to the stylist, hair, makeup. Of course, with such control, if the final product is crap, the photog has nowhere to hide behind. You want more control, you take more responsibility.

    All these might sound very ivorytower-like, but this is what is needed to promote more professionalism in photography. Sure, in situations, there has to be give-and-take, and as you keep working with like-minded people, you can give them more leeway as you get used to how each of them thinks, but photogs should not accept being pushed around. Only by respecting themselves can photogs expect others to learn to respect them. And I know of photogs who rather than put their name to what does not follow their vision, ask that their names not be credited, take the money, and then refuse to work with those people again.

  16. #16

    Smile Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    this idea of establishing an association or body has been around for as long as i can remember. i am pessimistic about it. it is still 'take care of oneself' or translated in cantonese, 'zi kay ko zi kay'.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    The blog is good to highlight how copyright works by default (ie if you don't say in advance, then the copyright belongs to whoever pays for the work), whether photogs should negotiate better than default terms is what every photog should do for himself. Should not wait for a photog association to come to "educate" the customers or to "fight" for the photog... by the time such an association comes about, maybe too late already.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    I don't believe it will ever be too late. Photographers aren't about to suddenly die out although the going may be tough.

    Having an association as backing has more weight versus a single photographer trying to educate the customer. Similarly the association can advise companies organising competitions on the fairer terms & conditions available. I feel attempts by single photographers who spend effort writing in to the various competition organisers on copyright issues are not treated importantly and do not receive a just answer.

    It would be useful to have a collective voice (eg. an association) which can address professional photographers issues, provide legal support and a ready network to its members.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    If you think educating and organising photogs is a waste of time, look at the case of the modelling agencies in Singapore... try your luck getting them to break out of their pricing system

    or you waiting for an ex freelance photog to help

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Save the Singaporean photographers

    I'd be intrested and hope you would take some time to post up the relevant information as stated in bold red.

    On the parts in bold blue, I think the Copyright Act is fairly explicit on commissioned works and the Employment Act may not be relevant. Besides, the laws providing for employee's rights being automatically assigned to the employer is also in the Copyright Act and not the Employment Act

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lim
    Uh, just my 2 cents worth

    copy right is present in any for on Original- Literary, Dramatic, Artistic and Musical work. In which Photos are considered under the Original artistic works. So technically, the rights for the photos belongs to the photographer if he'she hasn't been under the employment act which states an exchange for benefits for the works done within the limits made known to the employee. So in any case the issue of rights start from the initial signing of a contract, (bare in mind that a verbal contract with a neutral 3rd party is still valid in the eyes of the law). The PG needs to be given ample time to look through the contract before signing it, and clarifying all the clauses before entering into a legally binding contract. After which when the contract is signed, it will be non voidable unless a breech is sustained by the employing party. There are also ways in which a defense can be used in cases regarding copy rights. If you guys are interested, i can take some time to post up defences regarding copyright laws as well as contract laws. =)

    Hope i'm not getting OT here. =P i have a tendency to type things that are non related without knowing. haha

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