ASMP — American Society of Media Photographers

In Response to Jonathan Band’s post, “Shot on an iPhone, Everyone’s the Competition”

By August 25, 2016 September 12th, 2016 Small Claims Report

In response to Jonathan Band’s recent post, “Shot on an iPhone, Everyone’s the Competition” on project-disco.org, Tom Kennedy writes:

I find Jonathan Band’s latest blog post to be odd in choosing to describe changing technology as the primary driver of lost income for professional photographers while appearing simultaneously to minimize the importance of copyright infringements as a reality also producing real income losses.

While describing the impact of amateur imagery on traditional sources of professional photographer employment as a current reality, he fails to note an equal reality; namely that the emergence of the Internet as a vehicle for image distribution has also helped trigger a massive rise in the number of infringements faced by every professional photographer. Such infringements are in fact occurring and do require the remedy of a small claims alternative to federal court as a means of ensuring visual creators’ rights.  

While changing technology makes every smart phone also a camera, the mere presence of such devices doesn’t necessarily change every reality in the photography marketplace.  For example, while Mr. Band notes that the current iPhone 6 advertising campaign has made expanded use of amateur images, it is also worth noting that the original campaign introducing camera technology in an iPhone 6 did rely specifically in part on the inclusion of professional photographers’ images(http://www.fastcocreate.com/3043031/apple-showcases-iphone-photography-from-around-the-world-in-new-campaign-for-iphone-6 and http://dancarrphotography.com/project/apple-iphone-ad-campaign/).    

Apple’s ad agency knew that work would showcase the iPhone 6 camera features to maximum advantage because of the aesthetics of the imagery itself.  The aesthetic language and craft practice that Mr. Band suggests as being within the reach of every amateur with an iPhone 6 are in fact separate and distinct factors from the camera technology built into such mobile phones.  Available technology does not automatically confer an artistic sensibility and mastery of craft.  Using professional images to start the initial marketing effort for the iPhone 6 makes that point clear. 

Professional photographers have spent their working lives building up skills that make them potent observers of the human condition or other life on our planet.  Their skills render the world with a kind of focus, intensity, and clarity of purpose that differentiates from images made on another basis.  Pointing a phone at a nearby subject and pressing a button is not the same as working skillfully to express a thought, emotion, or observation intended to yield a fundamental truth about the human condition or some other aspect of our physical world. 

Further, I would submit that his apparent concern over so-called “sweeping changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s takedown regime” actually misrepresents our positionIn advancing the idea of a small claims alternative to federal court, we are simply seeking a remedy that supports the rights of visual creators under copyright law to deal with the expanding volume of infringements in a digital world.  We see a need to ensure that the pernicious impacts of infringements are addressed, separate and apart from other marketplace changes and other forces that may be affecting professional photographers’ income as Mr. Band suggests. 

 Infringements are real as an economic problem for visual creators. They should not be minimized as an inconsequential factor in the economic life of professional artists and photographers, regardless of the availability and impact of new image-making technology on the current marketplace.

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