From Kim Werther, Art Buyer
A recent Ad Age article titled “User-Created Ads Create Rights Conundrum” highlights an incident whereby Toyota used photographer Michael Calanan’s work without his permission. It’s really not shocking that many small companies have used images from photographers without their permission, but that big companies, such as Toyota, are doing it, is. Toyota should have known to ask for rights.
It’s dangerous for Art Directors, and agencies in general, to pull imagery off Web sites such as Flickr for many reasons. For example, one of the most common uses of Web-provided photography is for developing comps for a client presentation. You may present your ad as a comp, but what if the client loves the artwork so much they want to use that image right then and there? If the image is pulled from a stock house there will be no problem getting the rights; but with many of the Web sites that aggregate photos or artwork, it’s a different story. You cannot assume that you can use those images for advertising.
As stated in the article, you can possibly use the image for commercial use but there might not be a model release. It is coming to a point where the internet is becoming the go-to source for everything; timing is tight on projects and people sometimes do not go through the proper channels for acquiring reproduction rights on images. I had someone recently tell me that Google provided free images for commercial use. But it gets tricky sometimes to tell exactly which ways you can use images provided on many Web sites. After taking a look at the fine print you often find out you can’t use an image for the purpose you might want.
Stock houses are your best bet to ensure that you’re protected when using someone else’s imagery. When all is said and done, any Art Director that is creating advertising with photography or illustration should always take the step to meet with the Art Buyer to make sure all rights are cleared for the intended use of the image. It’s your best bet!