A wire service like the Associated Press has enough distribution and clout to make waves in the photography industry. So when the LPGA announced its new restrictive photo credential, which gives them unlimited free use of images in perpetuity, the AP decided that it would stop covering LPGA events.
It shouldn’t be surprising that when the issue is financial, large organizations that can make a difference finally take a stand. It’s unfortunate that they aren’t motivated financially to take a stand on issues like the NCAA, etc. But business is business. And we ought not to expect the AP to take a stated position and put legal resources forward to fight for the “rights of photographers” even though non-staffers contribute many of their images.
I’m not a pro-union kind of guy. And I tend to think that many of the photographic organizations that exist today are generally ineffectual. But in many cases, they are ineffectual because they don’t take a stand. For example, the NPPA has an ethics column and ethics chairs, but I can’t remember hearing of people being censured or kicked out for ethics violations.
Photographers aren’t like doctors or lawyers. There is no credentialing body or tests to ensure that you have technical and ethical competence. So the notion of a universal or semi-universal code of ethics with a standards body is hogwash. Nevertheless, there are issues that are salient to all photographers like copyright and use of images for self-promotion. It would be inspirational to see the extant organizations come together occasionally to speak out on an issue that provided guidance for photographers.
In a world filled with ambiguities, photographers look for guidance every once in a while. For example, the Professional Bull Riders Association has a credential similar to the LPGA, and I can’t help but think that if a large organization like Sports Illustrated went on record to say they wouldn’t support such a credential nor accept images from such events, that other photographers and editors might follow the lead.
While I dream of a kinder, gentler world, I’ll raise my glass to the AP for protecting their rights, even if their day rates aren’t what they should be. After all, an accumulation of baby steps can make a difference.