Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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Dan Heller, DANM '13 :: Opportunities and Risks of Licensing Photos of People

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 2:00am to 5:30am


Photos of people are licensed more frequently, and for more money, than any other subject, in uses ranging from advertising to editorial publications. But the economics of these images is not as straightforward as you might believe. This is because individuals generally have rights of privacy and publicity, allowing them to control how their likeness can be used. Generally, but not in all cases.

Historically, most publications and advertisers have aligned towards a more conservative position, only using images in cases where subjects have expressly given their consent for usage (even when consent might not have been necessary). But a new phenomenon has begun to emerge. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram (acquired by Facebook), and a range of emerging startups are now attempting to "license" member photos to advertisers and ad networks, all without consent from the people in those photos. Does this offer the next great revenue-potential for crowdsourced images? Or is this a legal powder keg waiting to explode?

On January 15th photo industry analyst and DANM student Dan Heller reveals the emerging landscape facing professional and non-professional photographers alike. Who stands to benefit from these trends, and who is at risk? And how can individual photographers capitalize in this evolving ecosystem?

Heller highlights the companies best poised to take advantage of this opportunity, and exposes the organizations most at risk, in both cases focusing on the laws involved (both resolved and outstanding). Without doubt, opportunities exist, but only for those prepared and knowledgable about the changes underway.


Sponsor: American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Northern California

Location: Blue Sky Rental Studios, 2325 Third St., San Francisco, CA 94107   415.626.7232