As some of you know, I have this weird project where I want to photograph and document all of the important buildings in Saskatoon. Over the years I have made some significant process in doing that and today with the weather nicer and it being a Sunday, Wendy and I went into Mount Royal.
Sunday’s work well for photographing schools because it seems weird to photograph them when kids are there. We took some shots of Mount Royal Collegiate, Howard Coad and St. Maria Giametti Schools. We also took some of the Mount Royal Mall, Mount Royal Lutheran Church, and explored St. Paul Place.
I was editing them and some others when I stumbled across an old building that I knew nothing of and started to Google to see what I could find. I found a City of Saskatoon report that was presented to council a couple of years ago. As I was reading through it looking for the information that I needed, it had almost 20 photos that I recognized as being mine. Some of them were used more than once but you get the point.
I have had a conversation with city administration about their constant stealing of my images going back years. The agreement was that they can use them with credit. No money was needed to change hands, only that I was given credit for the images used.
I think this worked once or twice. On one of the downtown reports, the photo was credited to Flickr. I refuse to believe that it was because the report writer thought a website was the author or that you just credit, “the internet” for things you take from there, they didn’t want my name to appear on it. That’s fine but either a) buy the rights to the image from me or b) don’t use my images.
As I was looking at this report, my initial thought was that the person writing an internal report never realized he or she had to credit anyone but then as I went through it, they credited other sources, including the City, which they really wouldn’t need to give credit to, since you know, they are the city.
My response normally would be “whatever” but I know a lot of photographers in this city that are way better than I am and need the money to pursue their craft and run their business. In using my stuff from Flickr and Bridge City, it undermines their livelihoods. I know it is a lot easier to “right click” and “save as” but in what other field of work is stealing someone’s work okay?
It’s not like I am that difficult to deal with. My stuff has been published in books and magazines, is on a magazine (ok it’s a journal), was on the front page of The StarPhoenix (Barry Hotel being demolished), is on a CD of a band in Japan who does thrash metal, and yes, has been given permission to be used in city publications. I have even had a photo used without permission by The Toronto Star (that was awkward) and I have never demanded payment. Only that I am given credit.
Sometimes credit can’t be given and then I will take some form of renumeration. A hotel gave Wendy and I a free weekend at their hotel. For one report where they did not want my name to appear, I was bought off with a burger and drinks (and the great story of why they didn’t want to use my name).
I know the city administration is a big bureaucracy and for many of these reports, there is no expectation that they are read by anyone (including council) but how hard is it is to email someone and credit them correctly? Apparently too hard for city staff.
Update: Some of you have asked why I don’t complain to City Council. Some have brought up my frequent complaints to admin but others have also thought it isn’t a big deal that the city takes my work. I am never that sure if they are okay with theft or they just don’t understand intellectual property. Either way, it keeps happening and I guess it always will.