As an amateur lenslinger who’s had my photographs garner the attention of news media in the past, I take the moral to this story very seriously. I give away a lot of my photographs to Wikipedia but if a commercial news organization wants a shot I believe I will negotiate with them from now on.
Google told me today that a photo I randomly took in a restaurant in Spain has crossed the 300,000 views mark. Imagine if I had even a penny for every one of those views.
Virality is an odd thing. You don’t see it coming, but you can feel the momentum building while it’s happening. My phone notifications started going off like popcorn. One here, one there, then many more at once. People were tagging and sharing in an attempt to find someone to help these guys, while also hunkering down for the storm.
The first request for usage came from Fox News Desk. I froze. At this point, it was still very local, and I couldn’t see where it was going. Also, I was very distracted by the hurricane outside. I didn’t even know if I could ask for licensing because other photos were floating around (although not as good).The key part here is that I also didn’t know how. What did I ask for? How much should I ask for? Did they even care? Did I have to copyright or license it somehow?
So I told Fox they could use it as long as I was given credit. Unfortunately, this might have invalidated any other requests for compensation, but at the time I was clueless.