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Copyright Fees Clarified



There has been a great deal of confusion regarding some horse show photographers starting to charge copyright fees to customers for pictures run in the publications. We want to clarify our understanding of the current state of these fees.

We were contacted at the first of this year by six different photographers, Howard Schatzberg, Doug Shiflet, Sandra Hall, Linda Wollaber, Casey McBride and Avis Girdler, who sent us new agreements, which were essentially identical. These agreements contained several provisions which we considered unfair to our customers including but not limited to a charge to the customer of $10 every time a photograph was placed in any of the publications including the first time use of the photograph. This $10 fee is in addition to the cost of the photograph purchased for advertising.

Since that time, Avis Girdler has notified us in writing that she will not be charging these fees and that she will continue to do business with her customers and the publications as she always has. Howard Schatzberg has indicated verbally that he will also return to his original agreement. While we have not received this in writing, Schatzberg is not charging these fees at the Florida circuit shows he is currently shooting.

We have talked to Doug Shiflet, Sandra Hall and Linda Wollaber. Doug Shiflet and Sandra Hall are going to charge the copyright fees to customers for any and all uses of their photographs in the publications. Linda Wollaber also has indicated that she plans to charge these copyright fees, however her attorney has contacted our office and is considering some changes and their final decisions are not clear at this point.

Therefore, at this time Dabora, Inc., will require a copyright release to the owner of the horse or to the horse show before accepting photographs by Doug Shiflet, Sandra Hall, or Linda Wollaber in any of our publications.

We have not heard from Casey McBride clarifying his final decision.

In 1997, certain photographers sent the publications agreements that allowed their customers to use their photographs without owners paying copyright fees. There were certain other fees and stipulations including Internet usage fees and requests to require customers to buy multiple photographs when advertising in multiple publications. Subsequent agreements have increased these fees and/or added other stipulations. These latest agreements, including a $10 fee to the customer for each and every use of the photograph, caused us to make the decision to no longer accept photographs from any photographer charging these fees without a copyright release to the owner/advertiser or to the horse show.

Shiflet and Hall’s new agreements were to be effective March 1, 2004. Sandra Hall has since extended this deadline to March 15 and Doug Shiflet has extended his deadline to April 1, 2004. Linda Wollaber’s new agreement was to be effective March 1, 2004.

After these dates, customers must obtain copyright releases from these three photographers to use their photographs in the publications. A full copyright release allows the customer to use his or her photograph in any way they choose including advertising in horse publications without additional fees being due to the photographer.

As an alternative, certain horse shows require photographers to sign an agreement giving the horse show ownership of the copyrights of the photographs. Under such a work-for-hire agreement, photographers may not limit the use of the photographs now or in the future because they belong to the horse show.

Currently at least one world championship horse show has such an agreement in place, such that they own the copyright to all photographs taken at their show by their photographer.

Copyright protection is afforded by law and is a complicated process. We have always and will continue to abide by the law. We encourage horse show managers, committee members, and owners to examine their rights in regards to copyright fees and photographers.

We will continue to update the status of these agreements and charges as the situation continues to develop.

Christy Howard Parsons

Publisher

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