Dear Photographer: Is Using Images for Marketing Purposes Standard for an Editorial Contract?

I’ve been shooting for a trade magazine in New York for a few years and have a good relationship with the photo editor. My problem is that the company has just changed their contract which now states that they can use my images for marketing purposes without any additional pay or credit. I don’t have many other editorial clients, so I’m wondering if this clause is standard in editorial contracts or if I should try and push back.—Anonymous

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  • If they want to pay you the same old fee but increase their useage I would push back. Just do so gently.

  • In my experience, that is not too uncommon. I always accept their usage in that respect…. one could make a case for trying to get paid for the rights, but that won’t make you look too good in the eyes of the client. If you raise a stink about it, my guess is you won’t be hearing from that magazine anymore.

  • I’ve just had the same thing happen to me. One of the magazines i shoot for is a company’s magazine, i’m concerned that they’re going to commission me for an editorial piece at editorial prices and then use it for a campaign.

    My agent has advised me to stop shooting for them as they won’t change the contract back, but it’s a catch 22 as it’s nice creative work but i don’t want to get ripped of by them.

  • Personally, I can’t afford to ‘push back’ on this one. I like the concept of protecting the market, but the work has been so few and far between lately, that it just isn’t worth risking losing a client.

    In Joe’s case, I would DEFINITELY make sure that the company couldnt use the images in a campaign. I would hope the parent company and the “magazine” would be treated as seperate entities.

    All contract verbiage needs to be carefully reviewed.

  • This is a really interesting conversation going on here. It seems like there are a lot of companies are trying to cut back on expenses. I fear that the photo market and other people’s livelihoods will be threaten with this.

  • AC

    The whole “jump/how high” bandying about that art buyers have always done devalues working relationships between photographers and corporate entities. If they want more usage, you should display a very clear line item in your future invoices for additional licensing fees, plain amd simple. That’s what my agent says, and it’s our standard practice. They want something for nothing, and weather they think they’re entitled to it or not, they aren’t. Good luck, my brother.

  • As a professional you should be dictating the terms of trade for your business, not your client.

    The best way to retain control in these situations is to avoid signing publishers contracts (they are generally worded in the publishers favor and often leave the photographer open to all sorts of risk) and instead use the terms and conditions of the professional photographer’s association in your country (usually freely downloadable, even if you are not a member).

    The client is asking for more value, therefore they should expect to pay a higher fee, or offer you something tangible in return.

    Two age old maxims seem to apply here:
    1. There is no free lunch.
    2. Everything is negotiable

    Those who are too intimidated by their clients to engage in mutually respectful negotiations around usage are unlikely to last long in business.

    Good luck

  • Licensing for use in advertising/marketing is the whole basis of much of commercial photography. Editorial is for editorial, not editorial AND advertising, more use = more fees, that’s the whole point. Be polite but firm!

  • As I read it, your are shooting editorial for a trade magazine that wants to also use your work to market itself. I see no harm in this and it is standard in most editorial contracts. It just means the magazine can use you image(s) in their self promotion. They are not allowed to reuse you images for anything outside of those parameters.

  • negotiate…if you have a good relationship, and it sounds like you do, see what agreement you can reach…then decide.

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