Yes, uploading personal or professional images to their website is our choice and if their Ts & Cs attempt to take away our copyright, we also have the choice not to take part.
But changing the rules after people have already submitted their pictures does not give them the right to snatch away our creativity and certainly doesn’t entitle them to make a profit from them.
If the likes of Cartier Bresson, Ansel Adams or any of our other pioneering photographers had been alive in the 21st Century they would certainly have embraced the new digital techniques and multitude of ways in which images can be presented, viewed and shared, delighting in the flexibility of Flickr, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter to name a few.
None of the great artists, photographers and designers would have accepted the theft of their intellectual property by some of these media behemoths and they too would have been forced to reconsider the safety of releasing their pictures to the digital world.
It’s many years since the BBC in the UK snatched the rights to any pictures submitted to them whether for competitions, weather pictures or as news photos sent in by viewers.
Many innocent amateur photographers keen to see their pictures on screen sacrifice their rights by freely giving images to the organisation and spectacularly erode one channel of revenue for the professional freelance who once made money from speculative submissions.
The photo scoop is no more, thanks to mobile phones and other digital capture devices every one of us is now a potential news photographer, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because it has opened up the world to the immediacy of drama, tragedy and happiness, but the ease with which publishers now take away the commercial value of creativity is an extremely worrying trend.
As a professional photographer I am now cautious of where I submit my pictures; living in a world where legal boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and with territorial copyright laws no longer effective there is no room for complacency.
The mighty National Geographic have signalled their disquiet by considering whether to retain an Instagram presence and the so called celebrity market are leaving for fear of the unrestricted impact the loss of control of their images could have.
Organisations like Facebook have the belief that the creativity of the human brain is theirs by right. Surely, the time has arrived when the might of all creative minds both visual and auditory, demands recognition for their skills and cannot have their intellectual rights usurped on a whim.