Before I started blogging, I did acting and modeling on the side. The way the castings work is you’re paid for the size of the brand, where the video or photo will be displayed (commercial tv, local shop, all of the US or one small region) and for how long (anywhere from a week to a year). If they decided to use the content they shot beyond that range or length of time they sent a new contract (AKA more money) for the additional charge.
Then when I started blogging and receiving offers I started seeing crazy phrases such as “brands owns content and likeness in perpetuity”. In no other industry is this okay, but because the influencer and content creator industry is new there aren’t as many rules.
Why Protecting Your Likeness and Copyright Matter
There’s multiple times where this becomes a problem. For instance, one creator allowed a home decor brand to use her photo. Next thing she knows it ends up being promoted all over Pinterest bringing in the brand thousands of dollars and she didn’t receive a thing (not even credit). She regretted it, but since she already agreed there was nothing to do. She thought they were just going to repost on their account and tag her, but those TOS allowed them to do whatever they wanted and they took advantage of the freedom. She wasn’t in the photo, she took it, but she still just as much deserved to get paid like a photographer would.
Additionally, knowing a brand can promote it whenever they want poses issues. Imagine you say yes to a toothpaste brand using your likeness in a photo in perpetuity. Two years later they run a campagin and use your image in their campaign but you’re suppoesd to be working with a competitor. The new brand can easily drop you because it looks like you’re promoting a competitor and it’s conflicting.
Especially when you’re starting out, it can be tempting to say yes to giving up your copyright or likeness to a brand you really love or a project you’re really excited about, but no matter how much, it’s not worth it. Say no or negotiate it out. If it doesn’t work, I promise something better will come.
What To Do When A Brand Wants to Use a Photo or Video You Posted
Brands take advantage of this in multiple ways. They may comment on post you tagged them in asking for the photo where you have to respond something such as #yes. At first it seems exciting to be reposted by a big brand and get coverage. However, buried in those TOS (Terms of Service) that you can’t even click on is often an agreement that they can use your content wherever and whenever they want without any compensation to you. You could be on a billboard, on a tv ad, anywhere, and they’re not even obligated to credit you (when they should be paying).
Depending on your preference, being reposted on a big account isn’t bad and can be great exposure. However, instead of responding with their hashtag I typically respond with
“Thank you so much for reaching out and your interest in my photo/video! I’m a huge fan of XXXX! Please feel free to repost on social with proper crediting (tagging me in the caption and peice of content above any hashtags). For all other uses feel free to reach out to me at ______”! Thank you so much!”
What To Do When a Brand Puts Copyright or Perpetuity in a Contract
I’m going to emphasize this again. It is not worth losing your copyright or likeness for a brand. Brands who value you know that this is not okay. If you’re not getting many offers right now, keep pushing through and growing and the brands demanding perpetuity will fade away (Many brands and agencies know to take advantage of new content creators for unlimited free content in this way).
Often times brands might use your content for a certain amount of time (1 month, 3 months, etc) and you should charge for this. Unless, they’re offering at least 6 figures and you never plan on working with a similar brand again, anything in perpetuity is not worth it.
If a brand puts that in a contract, you can respond with:
“Thank you so much for your interest in working with me! I love xxxx and couldn’t be more excited to work with you and I know it’s something my followers will resonate with. I noticed the contract at section ___ mentioned “insert what contract says”. Is there a way to amend this to not be included or can we discuss a limited distribution for an additional fee?”.
How Much to Charge For a Photo
I wish there was an easy formula for this. Some resources will give you a standard, but there is a lot to consider in this such as
- Iphone Photo vs DSLR Photo
- Following Number (when taking into account using likeness)
- Length of usage (1 month vs 1 year)
- Where it will be used (on a website with small amounts of traffic vs on a billboard)
- Small brand vs multimillion dollar brand (Be cautious! Some huge brands pretend to be small while brining in millions)
The short of it is, a photo is worth anywhere from $150 to $150,000. Some people go off of a 4% of ad spend, 30% per month of usage of sponsored rate, or the Getty calculator which at least is more specific. These are all good starts, but the hard thing is, you really won’t know until you start and get practice and are in tune with your brands worth.
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