Remember the days when you would get home with a newly minted album or single? The first thing I'd do after pressing play was to get out the booklet and read every scrap of detail from the lyrics to the last of the very long list of acknowledgements.
Social media and streaming services
In the second decade (and beyond) of the 21st century, we are sadly devoid of such joys. When you fire up the latest Billie Eilish (or other edgey, popular artist), where do you read the writing credits? What about the artist who designed the cover artwork? And in this era of social media sharing, how do you know where the images came from? We just assume that permission was given by the original artists, be they songwriters, designers or photographers.
Recently, I have had my own copyright issues, where I had taken some photos for a local musician. Permission was granted to use the images, so long as credit was given. Further, a shoot for an album cover was undertaken "as a favour." Again, credit for the images used was promised.
On social media, my images from a portrait shoot and a gig shoot were used. Sometimes my name was mentioned, albeit with no link to my profiles, or even with the correct spelling. The song came out with my image on the cover, with no credit given. Indeed, where could one find the credit anyway? When the song was released, an article was written about the song, the artist and the style of music. Again, no credit for the images (two of which are mine) was given.
I reached out to the musician and to the website to correct the error. The article author set things aright, albeit with just one image and not the main image. He even empathised with my situation. The musician, after a very long conversation, decided that rather than post credit we should both cease to use the images. Not a happy resolution, but a resolution nonetheless.
If an artist makes a decent amount of money from the use of your creation, then Copyright law says that you are entitled to your fair share of those proceeds. It's a simple law, which does not allow any wiggle room. As the creator of an artwork, I am entitled to monetary compensation. However, this is not one of those situations where it is worth following.
So, as a struggling artist, do I pursue another struggling artist? The short answer is no.
What I want is recognition for my work, as it is this recognition that can lead to more lucrative work. How do I get that recognition when the musician in question will not correctly credit any of my works to me? There is only one ethical solution, as far as I can tell. That is to display the social posts, complete with images and cover artwork, side by side with the original photographs.
For reference, the conversation took place in September 2020. All posts shown here are from October 2020, onwards.