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Thread: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

  1. #1

    Default Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Hi. I was recently hired by a local magazine to do two shoots, both events, and I am now facing an issue with the magazine over the contract. As I was called up at the last minute for this shoot, I was told over the phone the time and place to shoot and what my payment would be. I accepted and did the shoot. Two days later I put some of the images that I took up on my portfolio and I then get a phone call from the magazine saying that I'm not authorized to put the images on my website as the magazine "owns" my photos. I told them that as a photographer, I own the copyrights and I can use them for my own portfolio if I so wish. I told them that I have not seen nor signed any contract so as far as I'm concerned, I can do what I want with my work.

    So a day later, the contract arrives and I'm also heading into my second shoot for this magazine. Very simple work. Walk around the event, take photos of the people, and take down names of those that I shot. When I finally take a look at the contract I'm shocked. It says that any photo that I take for the magazine, belongs to the company and that they have full rights to do what they wish, including using my photos for worldwide usage. All of this for such little money. It also goes on to say that I give up my rights to my work, that I have to keep confidential whom I'm working for and that if for some reason they don't use my work within 90 days, they will only pay me 50% of the fee. As it is, they don't pay until two months later. I was also told that I'm not allowed to engage in conversation with the guests at the events as I'm strictly there to shoot and nothing else.

    As I don't agree with this contract nor have I signed it, I have told the magazine that I want my full payment up front before I give over the images from the previous shoot. The editor then emails me to say that I'm being very unprofessional and that it's just to bad if I don't like the contract as that is what they have been using for years and they won't change it. I mean where are my rights in this? It's my work and if I freely give it over, I may not get paid at all.

    Any other pros out there can help to give advice? Do I just give in and hand over the images or do I stand my ground and demand payment for the services that I provided? As it is, my invoice states payment within 7 days which they don't agree to. It just seems unprofessional the way it is being handled as the contract was never given before I had begun my first shoot. Had I seen it, I would have not worked for them in the firstplace.

    Thanks for any help....

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by shadouphotography View Post
    Hi. I was recently hired by a local magazine to do two shoots, both events, and I am now facing an issue with the magazine over the contract. As I was called up at the last minute for this shoot, I was told over the phone the time and place to shoot and what my payment would be. I accepted and did the shoot. Two days later I put some of the images that I took up on my portfolio and I then get a phone call from the magazine saying that I'm not authorized to put the images on my website as the magazine "owns" my photos. I told them that as a photographer, I own the copyrights and I can use them for my own portfolio if I so wish. I told them that I have not seen nor signed any contract so as far as I'm concerned, I can do what I want with my work.

    So a day later, the contract arrives and I'm also heading into my second shoot for this magazine. Very simple work. Walk around the event, take photos of the people, and take down names of those that I shot. When I finally take a look at the contract I'm shocked. It says that any photo that I take for the magazine, belongs to the company and that they have full rights to do what they wish, including using my photos for worldwide usage. All of this for such little money. It also goes on to say that I give up my rights to my work, that I have to keep confidential whom I'm working for and that if for some reason they don't use my work within 90 days, they will only pay me 50% of the fee. As it is, they don't pay until two months later. I was also told that I'm not allowed to engage in conversation with the guests at the events as I'm strictly there to shoot and nothing else.

    As I don't agree with this contract nor have I signed it, I have told the magazine that I want my full payment up front before I give over the images from the previous shoot. The editor then emails me to say that I'm being very unprofessional and that it's just to bad if I don't like the contract as that is what they have been using for years and they won't change it. I mean where are my rights in this? It's my work and if I freely give it over, I may not get paid at all.

    Any other pros out there can help to give advice? Do I just give in and hand over the images or do I stand my ground and demand payment for the services that I provided? As it is, my invoice states payment within 7 days which they don't agree to. It just seems unprofessional the way it is being handled as the contract was never given before I had begun my first shoot. Had I seen it, I would have not worked for them in the firstplace.

    Thanks for any help....

    Hi,

    I am sorry to hear about your situation herein. You may want to consider the following:
    1) Under our common law system, oral contracts are binding and therefore, there is an enforceable agreement herein between you and the publisher(the magazine). From what you've said, only the specific terms are in dispute but the basic terms were settled, in that, you were engaged to take some photos for the publisher for payment and you went ahead to perform your part pursuant to the contract. This is further reinforced by the fact that you had also issued an invoice to the publisher.
    2) As there is a binding agreement between you and publisher by reason of the abovementioned, your situation would fall squarely within the ambit of our Copyright Act (Cap 63). This is where the problem starts for you. Under the relevant section (Section 30 to be specific) governing your present situation, the copyright in the works belongs to the publisher i.e. the magazine. This is provided for in the statute. As such, the magazine is correct to say that it owns the copyright in the said works and dictate the use of the said photos. This is so even though you have not execute the draft agreement that they had forwarded to you. Their right in this regard is governed by the Statute, the Copyright Act, in this instance. To go one step further, you would indeed be committing an offence by publishing the relevant photos on your portfolio without the magazine's consent pursuant to section 31(1) read with section 33 as you did that in the course of your business.
    3) You have to take note that, if you had stated upfront that the copyright in the photos belong to you and that you would proceed only on that basis, then, you would not be caught under section 30(4) and/or section 30(5). From what you've written, this bit is rather unclear and I am making some assumptions in this regard. If you have said this expressly to the magazine from the onset, then, you would fall under the exception under section 30(3) and the copyright would have been yours to do whatever you want to do with the photos. Furthermore, I am also unclear as to what are the other statements that you have put in your invoice which may or may not help you. On the flip side, at least, in future you can take note of this point to safeguard yourself.

    Just my take based on what you've disclosed. I hope that you find this useful.

    Cheers.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sham K View Post
    Hi,

    I am sorry to hear about your situation herein. You may want to consider the following:
    1) Under our common law system, oral contracts are binding and therefore, there is an enforceable agreement herein between you and the publisher(the magazine). From what you've said, only the specific terms are in dispute but the basic terms were settled, in that, you were engaged to take some photos for the publisher for payment and you went ahead to perform your part pursuant to the contract. This is further reinforced by the fact that you had also issued an invoice to the publisher.
    2) As there is a binding agreement between you and publisher by reason of the abovementioned, your situation would fall squarely within the ambit of our Copyright Act (Cap 63). This is where the problem starts for you. Under the relevant section (Section 30 to be specific) governing your present situation, the copyright in the works belongs to the publisher i.e. the magazine. This is provided for in the statute. As such, the magazine is correct to say that it owns the copyright in the said works and dictate the use of the said photos. This is so even though you have not execute the draft agreement that they had forwarded to you. Their right in this regard is governed by the Statute, the Copyright Act, in this instance. To go one step further, you would indeed be committing an offence by publishing the relevant photos on your portfolio without the magazine's consent pursuant to section 31(1) read with section 33 as you did that in the course of your business.
    3) You have to take note that, if you had stated upfront that the copyright in the photos belong to you and that you would proceed only on that basis, then, you would not be caught under section 30(4) and/or section 30(5). From what you've written, this bit is rather unclear and I am making some assumptions in this regard. If you have said this expressly to the magazine from the onset, then, you would fall under the exception under section 30(3) and the copyright would have been yours to do whatever you want to do with the photos. Furthermore, I am also unclear as to what are the other statements that you have put in your invoice which may or may not help you. On the flip side, at least, in future you can take note of this point to safeguard yourself.

    Just my take based on what you've disclosed. I hope that you find this useful.

    Cheers.
    the contract sounds abit obscene.
    legally yes the copyright act doesn't give us much room (although it would be good to see a precedent)
    I believe it is quite standard practice here for magazines to "own" the copyrights unless you state specifically otherwise
    If you do not agree with the terms, don't sign a contract and don't accept the job.

  4. #4
    vince123123
    Guests

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Hehe, one of the more uncommon times where someone has jumped ahead of me to provide a legal perspective, and in this case, a correct one at that

    Sham K - Kudos to you for providing a correct POV. Do beware however of trolls in the forum who will challenge you at every turn, to show your legal qualifications before you can give a personal opinion on the state of law relating to photography issues.

    I will just summarise to say that in the first shoot, since there is no contract signed, and assuming that there is no discussion on copyright ownership, copyright vests in the commissioner of the work (in this case, the publisher). That as correctly pointed out by Sham, is the case under the Copyright Act.

    As for your second shoot (which never materialised), it is then up to you whether you wish to take up the job on their non-negotiable terms, or simply reject the offer.

    Sham K has also given a good summary on the exceptions to the rule, and how one can avail themselves of these exceptions.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Thank you everyone for your comments and advice. Appreciate it. It really is a shame that their aren't more laws in Singapore to protect photographers rights...

  6. #6

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    I had the same experience and I went to an ip lawyer, and to my surprise I found out that as long as you didn't sign any contract you own the full right to what ever photo you took, even you were working for some one(aka the client). If you are member of Professional Photogapher Association you can actually consult the ip lawyer I consulted for free.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Like that dun shoot for them.
    Eat breath LIVERPOOL!!!

  8. #8
    vince123123
    Guests

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Uh, who's this IP lawyer? Seems like he may not know about the provisions on commissioning under the Copyright Act, or that commissioning does not need to be in writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by sim4nee View Post
    I had the same experience and I went to an ip lawyer, and to my surprise I found out that as long as you didn't sign any contract you own the full right to what ever photo you took, even you were working for some one(aka the client). If you are member of Professional Photogapher Association you can actually consult the ip lawyer I consulted for free.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Issue with Magazine over contract. What to do?

    Hi,

    it's been a while since I posted. I thought of this things you posted. So here:

    1. You've been paid an amount of money for your photography services. Understandly out there, so long it's an editorial magazine. The money you've been paid covers your photography and the month your pictures are published only. After that, the images are yours to keep and you can sell it to anybody once it has been published and taken down. Give and take a bit if they're good clients, if they want unlimited usage to their companies(like stock images), then tell them that the only fair thing is that you can let them have the usage, but in return, you can sell it off too.

    2. As I mentioned, it's your copyright once they have finished with the the publication month.

    3. You can put anything in your website or for your book, simply because there's no damages to anybody, so long it's after the publication month.

    4. The editorial rates in Singapore is sad, but it's an outlet whereby it gives fresh photographers a chance. Put it this way, if the magazines can pay high, they wouldn't have used you and they would have gone to somebody with better credentials(I'm sure there's always somebody better, no matter who you are)

    5. Irregardless the publication used your images or not, you should be paid monies(no matter how low). I haven't heard of any magazines who uses services and not pay, but should you choose to sigh the contract that way, then you have only got yourself to blame. Different companies practice different policies. If that didn't work for you, then move on, find a company that suits you.

    I hope that helps..


    Cheers,
    Just a simple man....

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