Photo credit mobile phones

Once upon a time, when the photo of something or somebody you took was published in a magazine or newspaper, you got a photo credit.  You even got paid for it.  Does that still exist?  ‘This image may be subject to copyright.’  I see this message regularly on the internet when I’m looking at photos.  Whose copyright is it when many cellphones take the same photo?

I went to my Barack Obama files and fished out the January 2009 edition of Essence titled, celebrating the dream.  The centre spread has a photo of a rally in Denver, on 26 October 2008 where it is estimated that more than 1000,000 people turned up to see the presidential candidate.  Essence wrote, ‘This crowd was photographed exclusively for Essence by Scout Tufankjian.’

How exclusive is it if the person next to Scout clicked her cellphone at the same time?  I tried counting cellphones on one page alone.  I went up to 97.  Fortunately the phone rang, stopping the madness.  How many people were in Chicago’s Grant Park on that historic date 4 November 2008?  How many had cellphones?

I went to the Oxford Dictionary for some answers.  It defines copyright as, exclusive legal right to print publish perform, film or record material.’

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel?


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