A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2020 Jan 29, 13:08 -0800
Robin Stuart you wrote: here are other considerations that should be taken into account when criticizing the choice of images included in Sky & Telescope. These are the cost of licensing and the time, effort and difficulties involved in establishing the true copyright owner. Getting it wrong might expose the publisher to legal risk.
That’s true. Having written until recently a page of my RIN Branch’s activities for several years for Navigation News, I became very aware of organisations Hoovering up photographs and claiming publishing fees for them, and institutes cashing in on collections they’d inherited. A socialist economist would deem them ‘rentiers’. Sometimes more than one organisation appears to claim ownership of the same photograph. Try doing a Google Images search for ‘the James Caird being launched from Elephant Is’. I’ve even seen a photograph which only I could have taken of an aircraft I used to own with someone else’s watermark going through it. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed.
You need to be careful, because as I understand it, in these days of artificial intelligence, unbelievably fast chips, and almost unlimited memory, the bigger organisations have access to search engines capable of sifting though every picture on the web to spot any of theirs being used illegally. If they find one, in the first instance, the culprit is likely to get a thinly veiled letter inviting them to buy a license. Newspapers usually get around this by buying a very broad license with a suitable agency. I on the other hand seemed to spend more time looking for useable photos than on writing the articles in the first place.
What I do now is take my own snaps of anything which might be useful in future articles. If I come across William Bligh’s, John Fryer’s, or Capt Marriot’s graves, or Shackleton’s statue against the wall of the RGS Building in Exhibition Rd, I photograph it. The Imperial War Museum and the Science Museum are ideal for this. If I can’t find a photo that I can use without permission, I tend to just publish the web reference instead, so the reader can find the photo themselves. DaveP