Pricing-exclusive copyrights. : LUSENET : Bulletin Board for Medium and Large Format Photography : One Thread

My client refuses to pay me a 3o% commission on sales of fine prints (11x14 or 16x20) from 4X5 transparencies. He says it is a bookeeping headache. Instead he is willing to pay well for the exclusive copyright. The photos are scenics of his property. What do you think, sell the rights? For how much? or walk away?

-- Peter J. Galea (, June 23, 1999


What amount defines well?

-- Ellis Vener (, June 24, 1999.

We who make a living in photography hear this more and more from our clients. First, let me say this...selling copyright or granting "exclusive anything" is a bad idea. (I assume you have property releases for the images?). "Selling out" hurts us all in the long run, and makes it harder for you to get a fair deal from this client in the future. Sure...individual circustances and economics sometimes put all of us in a position of having to make distasteful business arrangements in order to eat, pay the rent, etc....Exclusive arrangements and the selling outright of copyright is bad for the individual, bad for the industry. If you are in a position to "hold out" I encourage you to do so for yourself and for all of us who will be forced to deal with this issue in the future...our chain is only as strong as the individual links!

-- Tony Novak-Clifford (, July 05, 1999.

Sure, sell him all rights. Buy a copy of Cradoc's Photoquote and figure up every use he can make of the images and present him a price for ALL possible rights. The total will be in the thousands, probably in the tens of thousands. If he writes you a check, go for it. Otherwise, grant him a license for print sales based on an expected number of prints sold per year & allow him to pay for them(say 100- 500 or more-at your 30% proposed) in advance. IF he wants the image, he will need to pay for its use.

-- Dan Smith (, August 21, 1999.

A while ago I posted a question regarding commissions vs. selling exclusive rights. I want to report that perseverance has paid off. In a contract I requested a 30% commission on any "fine art" photos sold in a shop. The owner refused saying instead that he would like to buy exclusive rights. I balked. I recieved some very good and timely advice from Tony Novack-Clifford regarding the retention of rights. In further negotiations the shopowner relented and while he did not want to pay me the commission because of bookeeping, etc., he agreeed to show my work and be a conduit for the sale of prints. In this case, I will handle all sales and pay him between 10-20% of the sales. I kept the rights, which those before me had worked very hard to secure. This has wortked out well, he gets limited rights to show my work for advertising and marketing and I will profit from the sales of prints. I owe a debt of gratitude to Tony for helping me take the professional stance. I urge anyone else in a similar position to stand fast to your position. Do not crumble. Never sell exclusive rights.

-- Peter J. Galea (, August 22, 1999.

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