Is it ok to let media outlets use photos or videos from your social media posts?
Whenever I see a news story with a video or photo crediting your “handle” from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I cringe. I start thinking about that poor kitty stuck behind the third rail in a New York City subway station.
I was visiting family and had plans to lunch at the Carnagie Deli and the rest of the day in Central Park. Take the uptown E train from Canal street station to 5th Ave.
When I reached the uptown platform I saw a huge crowd gathered around the first car of an E train that stopped while approaching the platform. Dozens of Smartphones video taping something. I had no idea what it was just that it was clear my trip would be delayed. For the first time ever, I decided to join the crowd and video. It was either that or Candy Crush.
Growing up in New York during the 70’s and 80’s it was a different time. Rats, bums, the smell of urine and the constant lookout for pick pockets or getting mugged. How times have changed, no rats, security camera, cops everywhere. There’s no chance anyone would take out a smartphone, if there was such a thing, and film this unknown event. But here we were.
I walked slowly maneuvering through the crowd to get the “scoop”. When I got closer, I could hear people asking for info. I and kept hearing “there’s a cat over there”and “no f-ing way” “get the f-outta here” “aww, poor kitty”. Sure enough there was a terrified black kitty cat frozen behind the third rail.
Passengers were evacuated and after 45 minutes the third rail was shut down. Finally, I videotaped the rescue with a happy ending.
I uploaded a 30 second clip and posted it on my Facebook and Twitter pages. The caption read “#NYPD are awesome. A cat rescue from the third rail at Canal st.E train within 20 feet. 45 min later Fluffy was saved!”
3 hours later I got a phone call from a reporter with a news website who saw the video on Twitter and asked if they could use it “we don’t have a budget for videos or photos but we can give you credit”. I was a bit apprehensive but if Quest Imagery would be in the byline, I’d agree.
The reporter gave me credit but at the end of his story and not with the video that they uploaded to their YouTube account.
But because the byline was on his copy and not embedded on the video, each time it was shared, there was no credit. And then some newspapers just took the video with permission from that organization and not me.
I called the reporter to explain my concern and he acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. I told him it was copyright infringement and to delete the video immediately. His response was “I don’t know how to do that” and “what’s the big deal anyway”and added “nobody else complains”. I asked to speak to his boss.
An hour went by and his boss called me and begged. I explained that sharing my video on their YouTube account was not agreed and is copyright infringement. I agreed to let them keep the video on their site if they delete theirs and re-upload it from my YouTube account. Every website that shared the video from their account also disappeared.
I thought this was such a stupid feel good animal video until I started to get phone calls from television stations asking to use the video for their evening newscasts. The phone calls always began with “we don’t have a budget for photos or videos but we can give you a HUGE credit.” I was skeptical about the “HUGE credit” but I thought why not, my website being promoted in prime time would be kind of cool.
The whole thing was totally bizarre, aggravating but best of all, a learning experience on how to not get ripped off unless you want something out of it.
Here’s a link to the New York Post, one of the news organizations that used the video without a credit or permission. NY cat rescue video
Here’s the link from my YouTube account Cat Rescue
Below is a framegrab from one of the TV stations newscast.