jmm on Fri, 14 Apr 2000 16:45:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Corbis trying to eat photographer's copyrights

dunno if there are photographers in other countries who are facing the
same threat, but as Gates is the world's leading owner of photos

Subject: Corbis trying to eat photographer's copyrights
Date: Jeu 13 avr 2000 21:14


Corbis has been caught trying to offer a new, bad and indecent contract to
Corbis Sygma‘s photographers in Paris. The contract was immediately
rejected. The photographers in Paris have formed an association and hired
an intellectual property lawyer to defend their interests. 

Since then, Corbis claims that they offered the wrong contract to the
wrong people and that the contract shown in Paris was for the freelancers

Although until now, Corbis Sygma’s freelancers have not received the
contract, it has been discovered that the contract is very similar to one
that has already been distributed recently to the stock photographers from
Corbis and Corbis Westlight. It is very difficult at that time to know who
signed such a disastrous contract due to the existence of a
confidentiality clause. 

The contract presented to Corbis Sygma in Paris contains some of the worst
conditions ever encountered in photojournalism. They include a partial or
complete copyright grab, the right to digitally manipulate editorial
pictures and the condition under which the photographer is liable for the
usage of his pictures, digitally manipulated or not, by third parties, The
royalties are the lowest ever offered to freelance agency photojournalists
and furthermore, Corbis tries to not pay for certain usages. 

This is a very grave situation. An agency that is supposed to defend the
interests of the photographers that it represents is trying to take their
rights instead of defending them.  It is also breaking a written and
verbal promise that previous contracts will not be changed. This leads
some of us to believe that they might act the same way with the other
agencies that they acquired recently or will acquire soon.

This situation does not concern Corbis Sygma or Corbis photographers only.
It does not concern editorial photographers only. It concerns all
photographers in all specialties. It concerns all graphic artists. It
concerns all artists. In brief it concerns all those who need to own and 
control the copyright of their work. Copyright is the most important asset
in order to benefit from the future worldwide expansion of the Internet

For the first time in history, thousands of photographers around the globe
are communicating in real time about a problem that concerns all of them. 
Today, they have the unique opportunity to defend their rights and their

Some photographers have lost the control of the copyright of their work in
the past because of ignorance or lack of information. There are no more
excuses. Information is here today. Advice and support is available from
any of us to any of us. If we don’t support each other today, we will
never support ourselves tomorrow.

Today, we decided to show to one of the major sources of photography,
Corbis, how many we are. We want to prove to them that we really
communicate. We are asking photographers and artists from all over the
world to send a postcard to Corbis Sygma’s photographers. Just write
something in support of them, of the copyright issue or anything you want. 
Sign only if you want to. It is not important. What is important is the
physical postcard. Thousands of them will be received within the next two
weeks in Paris and will placed in a transparent container.  A Corbis
delegation is coming back to Paris soon. They will see the container. They
will see the postcards. They will see US.

Just the fact that Corbis Sygma will receive thousands of them will spread
the news across the industry. Magazines, newspapers, advertising agencies
and all those who have tried to grab our copyright for the past years will
know. This action will rally more and more artists to our cause, to your

This is not an action against Corbis, Corbis Sygma or anybody in
particular. This is not an aggressive action. This is a way to show them
that WE ARE HERE. 

Every card is important. If you don’t send yours today, blame only
yourself the next time your own copyright comes under attack from your
agency, client, government or anyone else. Nobody will defend your rights
better than yourself. 

All together, and only together, we will be strong. 

You can forward this message to anyone you think might be concerned or

Thank you for your support. 

The address to send your postcard is: 

Corbis Sygma
L’association des photographes de Sygma
74 bis rue Lauriston
75016   Paris

For those based in the US, you need a minimum of $0.55 in stamps to mail a
normal size postcards to France. 

Frederic Neema
Frederic Neema Photography

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