Saturday, September 27, 2008

Orphan Works Trifecta - Libraries Torch Photographers Rights

Do you trust something that is done under dark of night? How about when everyone else is focused elsewhere? How about when you sneek your bad idea onto someone elses' really great idea - like a swarm of gnats around hot dog stand on cool fall evening?

Re-enter Orphan Works, which did just that. At the end of a Friday night, when everyone was focused on the impending debate of the presidential candidates, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act, S 2913 was snuck through, like an illegal alien skirting Border Patrol with the guidance of coyotes to help it on it's way. One of those Coyotes - Orin Hatch, proclaimed "victory" (read here).

Sen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) who co-sponsored the BIll with Senator Hatch, is quoted as saying, in remarks about whom the bill is named, Shawn Bentley - “So it is entirely proper and fitting for this bill to honor him and his continuing contributions to intellectual property law.”

Contributions? Try the gutting of IP law, Senator. This is just out of line.

What happens next?
UPDATE: Jim Goldstein's EXIF AND BEYOND podcast with me, Chase Jarvis, and Dan Heller debating the subject of Orphan Works is here.

(Continued after the Jump)

Next up, the House is pondering trashing their "christmas tree bill" with all the things in it that are supposedly good for photographers (See ASMP's position on the House bill here and why they think it's good for you) and adopting the Senate language to get the bill through the House.

Apparently this bill got the trifecta ram-thru because of a massive lobbying effort by libraries. So, they want to protect their books but torch our rights as photographers? I wrote about the American Library Association's efforts here - Apathy Gets You Nowhere, and it seems they have been successful in their efforts.

I remain doubtful this bill will pass, yet I encourage you highly to write and make your voices known. Use this link to make your voices heard. If the House bill dies, Orphan Works dies for this session, it takes two to tango.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Search Engines And Your Website

We are officially in Web 2.0. In fact, if you're on the bleeding edge, you are currently doing your research on the emergence of Web 3.0 - and it's coming. You know that because when magazine covers are touting Web 2.0, it's already arrived many many months earlier, if not years.

Ok, so, your most important marketing tool is your website. That's a given. Really. And you probably submitted it to the search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN), and you either are "found" for your search terms, or you're not. When you're found, and then all of a sudden, you disappear, you panic. For me, my website represents two to six assignments a month, on average, and that is a substantial amount of money, so I pay careful attention to where I rank on the search engines, but not all search engines are equal, and what happens on one doesn't happen on another. That applies to successful strategies to be "found", as well as what happens when you disappear.

I've written several times about this - It's Google's World, You're Just A Small Part of It, as well as SEO - Wild Wild West or Reason & Logic?, but I want to take this even further.

Why does this happen?

(Continued after the Jump)

When your ranking drops, 90% of the time it's because of a SE changing it's methodolgy for ranking sites. They are doing this because they believe it is in the best interests of their users. Some people refer to this as moving the goal posts, others refer to it as a "Google slap."

Interestingly enough, this has just recently happened. Over at (here) , they are reporting people with BluDomain websites having lost SE postions just last month. So too, some liveBooks clients have experienced this. Yet, this problem is not related to either of these companies specifically, because I have spoken to over a dozen photographers in the last week that don't have BluDomain, LiveBooks, or Clickbooq sites, and they too have experienced a drop in their positions. This is a global issue, and not related to anyone service provider. For some who report having a problem last month they are now back where they were. For others, the wait and the concern continues.

Let's first pull together some resources about search engines.

First - has your site that was on Google been banned? Check on all of the three SE's. simply type in your web address -, (and also try it without the "www") and see if it's there. If it is there, then you're ok. If not, let's discuss further.

Uptime - many inexpensive web hosting companies have significant downtimes. If your host was down during a Googlebot visit, thats probably part of the problem. Answer: Get a new provider.
Mirror sites - if you have mirrored your site, it may be that they are seeing duplicate content on other domains, and favoring (or dis-favoring) that site instead. Duplicate sites also give them cause for concern about spamming.

Tricks - don't be an idiot and do white text on a white background. That trick is so 1999. All the SE's know that, and every other trick you can think of. Don't do black hat or even grey hat tricks.

Inbound links - trading links with someone is considered a grey hat trick. Google knows what you're up to. You need inbound links without a return link. When you think you can do it by doing circular links, they have caught on to that too. Avoid link farms - too many outbound links on one page is a link farm. Avoid these, the SE's don't like them either.

Or, perhaps you are concerned about your ranking dropping. That happens. Get used to it. When you ease up on your SEO efforts, it's like stopping doing your mailings to prospective clients. Don't rest on your Page 1 laurels. Keep at it. It should be what you do in the evenings during commercial breaks of your favorite TV shows, or when you're waiting for a client to call you back.

Google, for example, has a "sandbox", (also insights here Search Engine Guide - How To Play In Google's Sandbox ) and it's there that they put sites that are less than six months old. Google wants you to earn your way out of the box. During this time, Google is looking to see if other sites are linking to you.

Let's talk for a minute now about inbound links. Since Google is the big dog, we'll use them. Inbound links come and they go. They also are relevant one day, and less so the next. For example, let's say that a SE considered the John Smith website a white hat site, and he had a link to you. Then, for some reason, his site dropped in ranking, possibly because of grey hat tactics, or perhaps because he was seen as a link farm (pages become suspect after there are about 20 links or so on a single page). If his site rating drops, so too (potentially) does the value of that link to you. Guilt by association.

To check out who has inbound links to you, search "", and also search "". Both give you insights into how Google sees you. Of most importance is the "+" search. That's called a "character search", and those are often links of significantly less value than the ones that return under the "link:" search.

Does your website have a sitemap? Sitemaps are very helpful for the SE spiders. Rob Haggart over at, who has a companion site -, where he talks about his commitment to SEO (SEO Of Our Websites) gives you a great deal of excellent information. So too does liveBooks (Search Marketing ).

I also want to encourage you to check out San Diego photographer Robert Benson's blog where he compares the main website providers - Photographer template websites compared . Google has a Website Optimizer, and this link (Website Optimizer Activates Pruning, Modifies Reports, and More
) talks all about it. Further, one of my regular reads is Search Engine Watch, and they have a great piece titled "Ready to Finally Try SEO?" that is well worth a read. Another piece on Search Engine Watch is "Experts - au Natural" about organic search results that's a great read.

Let's return to inbound links. (Are you getting the clue that they are the current key to SE success?) SE Watch has "Experts - Link Love" with recent/timely pieces on link popularity. Consider this too - when someone searches and finds you, regardless of the SE, their IP address is colllected by the SE, and when you - recognized by the IP address, comes BACK and does another search, or clicks on a different link, that is a mark against you - as defined by actual SE users. Search Engline Land wrote about this as it relates to changes in paid placements, and it talks about the change as a result of a "Previous Query". ( ""Previous Query" Refinement Coming To Hit Google Results" . This is the kind of intelligence that Yahoo, with their human-created search results from the late 90's and early 2000's, couldn't scale up, but none-the-less produced very valuable results. This is the basis for the benefits of inbound links. On top of that, back in July, SE Watch wrote about User Intent - "Google On User Intent in Search Queries" () when they said ""Search in the last decade has moved from give me what I said to give me what I want.""

Next up - just a week or so ago, SE Watch interviewed one of Google's Directors, in charge of engineering, about the nuances of search. This piece is incredibly valuable to read, because it comes from the mouth of the search gods themselves - Google Discusses Search Evaluation Process (9/16/08). Back in 2007, Webmaster World had a dialog about the constant changes by Google - termed "Everflux" , (Frequent Change in Google Search Results - almost hour by hour) and also addresses how you can be found in once search result done on the East Coast, and in a different position on the West Coast, as it relates to the changes in the content in their data centers. Everflux, and other people experiences that demonstrate that this is not a new phenomenon can be found here - (Disappearing and Reappearing rankings - Everflux or something else? ).

In fact, Google themselves wrote a piece on their official blog about two weeks ago (Search evaluation at Google, and is a piece written by the same engineering director above, Scott Huffman. Huffman has written a must-read piece on this subject. In part, he writes:

Evaluating search is difficult for several reasons.
First, understanding what a user really wants when they type a query -- the query's "intent" -- can be very difficult. For highly navigational queries like [ebay] or [orbitz], we can guess that most users want to navigate to the respective sites. But how about [olympics]? Does the user want news, medal counts from the recent Beijing games, the IOC's homepage, historical information about the games, ... ? This same exact question, of course, is faced by our ranking and search UI teams. Evaluation is the other side of that coin.

Second, comparing the quality of search engines (whether Google versus our competitors, Google versus Google a month ago, or Google versus Google plus the "letter T" hack) is never black and white. It's essentially impossible to make a change that is 100% positive in all situations; with any algorithmic change you make to search, many searches will get better and some will get worse.

Third, there are several dimensions to "good" results. Traditional search evaluation has focused on the relevance of the results, and of course that is our highest priority as well. But today's search-engine users expect more than just relevance. Are the results fresh and timely? Are they from authoritative sources? Are they comprehensive? Are they free of spam? Are their titles and snippets descriptive enough? Do they include additional UI elements a user might find helpful for the query (maps, images, query suggestions, etc.)? Our evaluations attempt to cover each of these dimensions where appropriate.

Fourth, evaluating Google search quality requires covering an enormous breadth. We cover over a hundred locales (country/language pairs) with in-depth evaluation. Beyond locales, we support search quality teams working on many different kinds of queries and features. For example, we explicitly measure the quality of Google's spelling suggestions, universal search results, image and video searches, related query suggestions, stock oneboxes, and many, many more.

If you really want to understand SEO, and your SERP, then you need to read EVERY link in this piece, and follow the links on those pages. Understand that grasping SEO, and doing it right, will be one of the most profitable things you can do to grow your business. I have not steered you wrong here. These are exceptional and highly respected sources. Ignore SEO at your own peril. Resting on your SEO laurels is akin to knowing the benefits of SEO and then ignoring them - it's a dereliction of duty to yourself and your success.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

PhotoPlus Expo - Your Best Plan of Action

PhotoPlus Expo (October 23rd through the 25th, in New York City) is right around the corner, and the early-bird discounts are available only until 10/3. Below are the seven programs that I highly recommend. It's a full three days of all that is the business of photography. Go get DVD's for how to light, and take Seth Resnick's D-65 Workflow Not Workslow seperate seminar to really get a handle on your workflow, or come to DC and take Peter Krogh's workshop on workflow and best practices for digital asset management (I presume he'll have dates in a city near you he can e-mail you about.) If you want to really learn Photoshop, you could also head to Photoshop World, or even ImagingUSA. I am not speaking on the PhotoPlus programming track, but we will be on hand doing video reports, as we did last year. (2007 Day 1 Highlights; and 2007 Day 2 Highlights).

Here is my recommended attendance list (after the jump). Register now for the seven seminars, and it should be $305 for the three 3-hour programs, and $70 each for the four 2-hour programs, or a total of $585 for three days worth of genius, that's if you register individually. Choosing the "Full Seminar Package", and you'll have a total of $495. This is an awesome deal.

Register Here.

(Continued after the Jump)

*** THURSDAY ***





MARKETING [SA5] 9a~12p

A mainstay of PhotoPlus, Debra’s program is a crowd pleaser because she pulls no punches and tells it like it is.

There’s Always Room at the Top: How to Get There and Stay There.


The first 10-20 seconds of a client interaction are crucial. Mary Virginia Swanson talks about the first 20. Buckle up – this one will open your eyes.

First Impressions: Selling Yourself in 20 Minutes


Make time to see the show floor. Breeze through it today,
taking note of what you want to come back and focus on tomorrow.
*** FRIDAY ***




Blake Discher, with whom I travelled the Country for ASMP’s Strictly Business 2 program helps you understand how not having a great website is costing you money.
Is Your Website Doing All It Can to Make You Money?


I first met Sean Kearnan in Los Angeles, at the SB2 launch event, and was blown away. Reinventing yourself in the times of cookie-cutter photographers means longevity, but more importantly, self-satisfaction. Sean will send you in the right direction, for certain.

The Artist, Lost and Found


With the guidance of yesterday, go directly to the booths and vendors you wanted to see yesterday. Make your deals, and then go get some dinner.
*** SATURDAY ***




MARKETING [TA5] 9a-12p

Tony Luna, who wrote a book I recommend in the “recommended reading list” on the blog, talks about growing your career without compromise.

Take Your Career to the Next Level


This panel of “youngsters” will give you hope that you too can succeed, whether you are under 30, or over 30.

PDN’s 30: Strategies for the Young Working Photographer

IT’S YOUR BUSINESS [SC6] 3:45p~5:45p

Judy Hermann and Mike Stark will give you the tools to get into the business, but more importantly, to stay there. I also traveled the country with Judy on SB2, and she’s got no nonsense advice and counsel – double your enlightenment with Mike’s words of wisdom, which I heard at PPA’s ImagingUSA last January.

Breaking into the Biz: What Every Student and Emerging Photographer Should Know

Like I said - Register Here. We're all procrastinators, but you can save several hundred dollars by doing it now.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Breeders Cup - Once Again Lame

Peter Land (Profile: LinkedIn) is up to his old tricks again, thinking that horse racing is on par with, oh, say, the NBA, where he toiled for 5 years. We first reported back in August (Breeders Cup - Coming Up Lame, 8/11/08) that the Breeders Cup was trying to restrict images that were shot there.

Now, their latest "Credential Use Conditions" paperwork comes over the transom for the races, which take place October 24th and 25th.

(Continued after the Jump)
Here's the language, for your consideration. The red parts are problematic:

This credential is issued for the sole purpose of providing facility access to an individual (“Bearer”) who is working on an assignment for a legitimate news organization or an authorized provider of event-related services (as employee, agent or designated representative) for events, activities, and interviews relating to the 2008 Breeders’ Cup World Championships (collectively hereinafter, the “Event”), and Bearer hereby represents that he or she is attending the Event solely for such purpose. This credential is non-transferable, and any unauthorized use of this credential or violation of its terms may subject Bearer and/or the assigning news organization to ejection from the facility, revocation of the credential, denial of access to future Breeders’ Cup Limited events, prosecution for civil or criminal trespass, and any other remedies available under law.

Neither Bearer nor his or her assigning news organization shall be permitted to record, transmit, use or distribute any film, video, audio, photograph, digital capture, drawing, reproduction, adaptation, display, performance, publication, account, description or other information concerning the Event (or any excerpts thereof) (collectively, “Representations”) except in connection with news and editorial coverage of or media stories about the Event produced by Bearer’s news organization and published within 30 days following the final day of the Event. Any other use of any Representations is prohibited unless the assigning news organization has received separate advance written authorization from Breeders ’Cup Limited. All real-time transmission of streaming video, digital images, or real-time audio is prohibited without separate advance written authorization from Breeders’ Cup Limited. In exchange for the access granted by this credential, Breeders’ Cup Limited shall have the right to purchase prints of any published photographs taken by Bearer in connection with this credential at the best financial terms offered to third parties, and Breeders’ Cup Limited shall be licensed at no additional charge to use such photographs for news coverage purposes only.

All ownership, copyright and property rights in the Event (including, without limitation, the statistics thereof) and in any telecast, broadcast, transmission or recording thereof and all trademarks used in connection with the Event shall remain the sole property of Breeders’ Cup Limited, and no such rights are conferred or intended to be conferred or created on behalf of any other person or entity by the issuance of this credential.

Bearer and his or her employer or assigning news organization: (i) assume all risk incident to the performance of services by Bearer and assume all risk incident to Bearer’s attendance at the Event, in each case, howsoever caused, whether by negligence or otherwise, (ii) agree to indemnify and hold harmless Breeders’ Cup Limited, and its affiliates, agents and employees from and against all liability, loss, damage or expense resulting from or arising out of (w) Bearer’s infringement of the intellectual property rights of others, (x) Bearer’s presence at the facility, (y) Bearer’s acts or omissions and (z) the presence at the facility of any cameras, wires, cabling or other equipment brought on the premises or used by Bearer; and (iii) grant permission to Breeders’ Cup Limited, its affiliates and their respective designees to utilize without compensation Bearer’s image, likeness and/or voice in any photograph or live or recorded video or audio display or other transmission or reproduction of the Event or in any excerpt thereof.

Breeders’ Cup Limited or its designee may at any time revoke this credential and/or any of the rights granted hereunder for any reason in its sole discretion. In case of any dispute regarding the terms and conditions of this agreement, Kentucky law will apply (without regard to its choice-of-law principles).

Acceptance of this credential constitutes agreement by Bearer and his or her employer or assigning news organization to abide by the foregoing conditions and the conditions on reporting regarding the Event .

Representing (Print)
One problem - there's no definition of what "real-time streaming" is. Real time refers to "as it happens, you see it", but even with the networks, there's often a 6-second delay, so that's not technically real-time, it's near-real-time. Further, the transmission of a digital image would also not qualify as "real-time" since the latency between shutter closure and the appearance in an edit suite for consideration to be posted to the internet, and the subsequent posting to the internet, would see a delay of 15 - 30 seconds, even under the best of circumstances, so "real time" can't apply from a practical standpoint.

Another problem - if you are a subscription service like Getty or US Presswire, the availability of your images under the "best financial terms" means that when you indicate that the value of an image that appeared on a client website of a contributing photographer is $7 or so, with the photographer getting a few dollars, that is going to be the price you will be required to license to Breeders' Cup, your images for. Speaking of those "I'll shoot for free and make my money from resales" geniuses at US Presswire - this credential will kill your revenue stream. But hey, you didn't really care about the money, did you? More than one USPW photographer I've heard from just wanted good seats and to hang with the cool photographers, so maybe they'll be there anyway?

Word on the street is that Sports Illustrated is seriously considering taking a pass on this one. That means they'll likely get their own credential language. You can guess that the Associated Press, and other wire services will be looking at how they can walk away from the event too.

Hey, isn't October 25th Pablo Picasso's Birthday? Or, maybe everyone could focus on working on their Windows computers, since in 2001, October 25th was the first day that Windows XP was available?  Paging Gemma Parenti - we need a re-write and a redesign on this credential language - stat!

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Watch Your Metadata

You know, sometimes you just gotta stop and laugh. This is the kinda laugh that you throw your head back and laugh out loud. I recall the uproar - pre-MacIntel - when an advertisement for Intel chips, it was revealed, was made with an Apple.

Now, let's have a little chuckle in the latest round of commercials.

(Continued after the Jump)

Apple has been wildly successful with their "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" ads. So much so, that after a flawed trial with Jerry Seinfeld, the latest ads poke back at the iconic Apple ads. Yet, the laugh track dials up to 11 when the metadata reveals that the images were made on...wait for it now....a Mac.

Cue the laughter.

John Paczkowski over at All Things Digital (Hi. I'm a PC...and I was Made on a Mac, 9/19/08) writes
"The irony is enough to make your head explode...My God. This is how Microsoft and its ad agency hope to turn Apple’s disparagement to their advantage? I would have assumed that an advertising campaign touting Windows PCs over Macs would, you know, not be created on Macs. But then I don’t work for Microsoft..."
, and Microsoft has issued a statement:
"As is common in almost all campaign workflow, agencies and production houses use a wide variety of software and hardware to create, edit and distribute content, including both Macs and PCs."
Right. Yet, it's been reported that Microsoft has cleaned up the metadata, and, presumably, someone is re-doing the entire campaign on a PC? No? Maybe?

Folks, be careful in your own metadata. Here's an example of one I caught recently. It was an assignment from earlier this year, but a post-production person who wasn't paying attention applied an old template to the data, so the added copyright notice was two years old. Not good. Attention to detail, people.
Other things, like mis-spelling a subject's name could mean your images don't turn up in a search. Having the wrong city, and so forth. The list goes on. Be darn sure you're handling your metadata right, or the value of your images will be diminished, and you might just embarrass yourself, or your clients.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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