I am always pleasantly surprised when I get a call from a Wal-Mart Photo Department or some other store that makes prints, asking me if the person standing before them has permission to reproduce a photo. It wasn’t always like that. Stores which print photos are increasingly aware of reproducing professional work without permission and are increasingly checking the copyright notice imbedded in the metadata and contacting me.
I am flattered that they recognize my work as professional. It is even more fun when I have provided a release to the user to reproduce the image and they get to use it. I think the most fun I have is when I am actually printing one of my own pictures and the well-meaning clerk asks me if I have permission to reproduce the image.
“I don’t need permission,” I reply rather wryly. I stare at their quizzical gaze as they wonder about an impending confrontation. Then I add with a mischievous grin. “I am the photographer. It isn’t necessary to grant myself permission.” One clerk did argue with me and asked me to prove I was the photographer. It took out my driver’s license, a business card and then showed her the copyright notice on the photo. Even though the second two items are easily faked, she printed the images without a fuss.
Last week, I received a thank you email from my niece for allowing her to use the butterfly photo show at the beginning of the article as a model for her new tattoo shown above. She had dutifully asked permission prior to getting her tattoo, showing a reasonable amount of respect for intellectual property in the process. In addition, the tattoo artist insisted upon permission before proceeding which I found encouraging.
I still am not certain about how I feel about having my art immortalized in flesh. Tattoos really aren’t my thing-but a lot of people seem to like them. It is nice to know that people find my art worthy of reproduction and that reproduction artists find my property of value to seek my permission in its reproduction.
As it is, there is no skin off of my back, so to speak…
Rikk Flohr – © 2009