Unpaid in perpetuity

While I’m still waiting on the final word regarding publication of a photograph in a regional nature guide, I received yet another request for licensing rights for one of my pictures.  This one, however, has me looking askance at best.

I’m writing to you on behalf of […] an independent television production company based in London. We are currently looking for photographs to use in a new comedy series for the UK, and I would like to ask your permission to use your photo […].

If you consent, we would require you to sign a materials release form for the photo, which would grant [us] a non-exclusive license for world transmission, in all media for perpetuity. I can have this emailed or faxed to you.

Let us be clear on this.

They are requesting legal permission to utilize one of my images for commercial purposes, one to be broadcast in all media in which they choose to dabble, and they want that right indefinitely.

Probably aware of what’s being asked for in light of what’s not being offered, the letter closed with this statement:

[I]f we do use the image I’ll be more than happy to write a short statement for your portfolio about our usage of your image.

Let’s be clear about something: I’m not a professional photographer, and I have no plans to ever be one.  It’s nothing more than a hobby for me.

That means I have no portfolio—not technically or otherwise—and I never will.

Therefore my images are personal, items not meant to drum up business or prospects.

Asking to use the image forever in whatever way they deem fit, all without proper attribution or payment, seems presumptive and—not to put too fine a point on it—dreadfully mercenary.

I’m declining this offer as it stands.  I hate to do that, mind you, but I must.

2 thoughts on “Unpaid in perpetuity”

  1. That’s the kind of proposal you run screaming from.

    Imagine they take one of your images and it becomes the next big thing, used everywhere and on everything imaginable, and they have the right to make as much money as they want. Granted, as non-exclusive you could still sell it to others, but to my mind it’s not a good idea.

    That’s not even a deal with the devil!

  2. Amen, Sister! I wholeheartedly agree. The introductory message gave me the willies from the get-go.

    Here’s the formal response I sent back:

    Thank you so much for contacting me regarding the use of my photograph.

    Unfortunately, I do not grant unpaid licenses for any image if intended for commercial purposes, especially in perpetuity and for all media.

    Please understand photography is a hobby for me and no portfolio is forthcoming; therefore, except in cases of not-for-profit use, I’m rather exacting when it comes to licensing my work for profit.

    Again, I appreciate you taking the time to contact me regarding this matter. If [your company] wishes to reassess its licensing terms in this regard, I’d be more than happy to discuss an arrangement.

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