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Thread started 11 Aug 2014 (Monday) 15:44
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HeartsApart.org question.

 
rivas8409
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Aug 11, 2014 15:44 |  #1

Do any of you work with this charity? For anyone who doesn't know, they basically connect military families who's military member is about to deploy with a photographer prior to deployment. It seems like a great charity and one that hits home for me as I'm an active duty member myself.

My biggest question is with their release that they require photographers to sign. It basically says that the Photographer grants them an unlimited, irrevocable, royalty-free, right and license to use any and all photographs...and any and all copyrights therein, produced, created, taken, made, or shot by the Photographer.

Ok, so I get the license part. It makes sense, considering the type of charity they are and their mission, that I would sign them over a license to use the photos. The part that kind of gets me is the second part that signs all copyrights to them as well. Well, as soon as I do that those photographs are no longer mine. Yet on their website they state that the photographer maintains the copyright to the photos they shoot. They contradict themselves, don't they? And in this case i would figure that what I sign trumps what they claim on their site.

The release goes on further to say that it includes, but is not limited to, the right to sell, and to sublicense, the "Licensed Work" to others. Additionally, the photographer waives all rights to royalties and compensastions arising from or relating to the "Licensed Work".

....So they can sell or license my photographs to ANYONE, or any entitity, in the world and I don't make a dime? Ok, they're a charity- I get it. But they can turn around and make a profit on my photographs and I can't do a thing about it?

As much as I want to support their mission, I'm having a few second thoughts about this. They sent me an email approving my work but just need my signed release before they start connecting military families with me.

If you work with HeartsApart.org I'd really like to get your take on it. Even if you don't....what do you think of their release? Thanks.


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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Aug 11, 2014 20:09 |  #2

Whats to stop you from doing this without using the charity as a "middle man"? Forgive my ignorance about the subject but you say you are active duty member so wouldn't you be able to speak with members about to deploy? One would think doing one or two of them would cause word of mouth to spread.




  
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CAPhotog
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Aug 11, 2014 20:49 |  #3

I have no knowledge of this group... Although you paraphrased, it sounds like the contract describes a right "to use" all photographs and copyrights. That's different than assigning the copyright to them and giving away your ownership. Small difference, but it means you retain ownership without further compensation. It sounds like you can still claim ownership and use the image yourself, possibly license it to others. Hard to say without a review of the exact wording in its entirety. If you are donating your work and they need to license or charge a fee, it might not be inconsistent. Yet, it does sound a bit like shared copyright therefore should be clarified to avoid.

If you believe the spirit of the charity is good, I suggest asking for clarification by e-mail. The website description might be what is intended even if an attorney prepared the contract differently. It doesn't hurt to ask for a revision if there is a real discrepancy.




  
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Aug 11, 2014 20:51 |  #4

rivas8409 wrote in post #17089662 (external link)
Ok, so I get the license part. It makes sense, considering the type of charity they are and their mission, that I would sign them over a license to use the photos. The part that kind of gets me is the second part that signs all copyrights to them as well. Well, as soon as I do that those photographs are no longer mine. Yet on their website they state that the photographer maintains the copyright to the photos they shoot. They contradict themselves, don't they?

Yes, so point out that fact and ask them to clarify what they think it means. Then once you know that you can make a better decision about accepting/not accepting the terms.

....So they can sell or license my photographs to ANYONE, or any entitity, in the world and I don't make a dime? Ok, they're a charity- I get it. But they can turn around and make a profit on my photographs and I can't do a thing about it?

They are a charity, they don't and can't make any "profit". What they do is raise money to pay for their work but that money must be used for that purpose - it isn't profit and it doesn't go to shareholders. They can raise money either by taking donations of money or by accepting donations in other forms that could be sold to raise funds. The fact that they sell the images you donate to raise money would seem to be a fairly normal activity for a charity.... just like selling cakes baked by local housewives etc.

Having said that I would suggest that you again ask them about this. The license text you quoted is standard boilerplate licensing text and it could well be that they have simply used this to cover themselves but have no actual intention of selling your work (who would they sell it to?)

Talk to them. I am sure they won't bite. Once you know what they think it all means you will be better placed to make a decision.


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rivas8409
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Aug 11, 2014 22:17 |  #5

the flying moose wrote in post #17090118 (external link)
Whats to stop you from doing this without using the charity as a "middle man"? Forgive my ignorance about the subject but you say you are active duty member so wouldn't you be able to speak with members about to deploy? One would think doing one or two of them would cause word of mouth to spread.

I started thinking about that too. I may do just that.

CAPhotog wrote in post #17090195 (external link)
I have no knowledge of this group... Although you paraphrased, it sounds like the contract describes a right "to use" all photographs and copyrights. That's different than assigning the copyright to them and giving away your ownership. Small difference, but it means you retain ownership without further compensation. It sounds like you can still claim ownership and use the image yourself, possibly license it to others. Hard to say without a review of the exact wording in its entirety. If you are donating your work and they need to license or charge a fee, it might not be inconsistent. Yet, it does sound a bit like shared copyright therefore should be clarified to avoid.

If you believe the spirit of the charity is good, I suggest asking for clarification by e-mail. The website description might be what is intended even if an attorney prepared the contract differently. It doesn't hurt to ask for a revision if there is a real discrepancy.

Dan Marchant wrote in post #17090197 (external link)
Yes, so point out that fact and ask them to clarify what they think it means. Then once you know that you can make a better decision about accepting/not accepting the terms.


They are a charity, they don't and can't make any "profit". What they do is raise money to pay for their work but that money must be used for that purpose - it isn't profit and it doesn't go to shareholders. They can raise money either by taking donations of money or by accepting donations in other forms that could be sold to raise funds. The fact that they sell the images you donate to raise money would seem to be a fairly normal activity for a charity.... just like selling cakes baked by local housewives etc.

Having said that I would suggest that you again ask them about this. The license text you quoted is standard boilerplate licensing text and it could well be that they have simply used this to cover themselves but have no actual intention of selling your work (who would they sell it to?)

Talk to them. I am sure they won't bite. Once you know what they think it all means you will be better placed to make a decision.

I did ask for clarification from them. I've yet to hear back. I think I started looking at this charity as a way to be involved with a charity. Being a charity I can see how they couldn't sell them for profit, but they could sell or sublicense the photos to a non-charity and then that organization could make a profit from it. That's my biggest concern with the release- I'd be giving them the right to sell and sublicense the photos to anyone, anywhere, in the world.


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Aug 11, 2014 22:44 |  #6

Dan Marchant wrote in post #17090197 (external link)
...
They are a charity, they don't and can't make any "profit". What they do is raise money to pay for their work but that money must be used for that purpose - it isn't profit and it doesn't go to shareholders. They can raise money either by taking donations of money or by accepting donations in other forms that could be sold to raise funds. The fact that they sell the images you donate to raise money would seem to be a fairly normal activity for a charity.... just like selling cakes baked by local housewives etc. ..

Charities don't quite work as charitably as that. They do have to give some of what they collect to their cause but they can bury the bulk of what they collect into things like salaries, operating expenses, and a lot of other things. It is not unheard of that 90% of what is donated gets used up before the charitable group sees penny one. I was not able to find this charity on any of the charity review sites so it's hard to say how reputable these folks are.


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Aug 11, 2014 23:00 |  #7

gjl711 wrote in post #17090369 (external link)
Charities don't quite work as charitably as that. They do have to give some of what they collect to their cause but they can bury the bulk of what they collect into things like salaries, operating expenses, and a lot of other things. It is not unheard of that 90% of what is donated gets used up before the charitable group sees penny one........

^This. There have been quite a few scandals involving million dollar salaries for charity CEOs.


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rivas8409
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Aug 11, 2014 23:22 |  #8

To me a simple release allowing them to give the family the photo files for free would be sufficient. It's the whole granting copyrights and permission to sell or sublicense the photos that has me thinking twice.


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Aug 12, 2014 12:14 |  #9

Well I heard back from them. Apparently the photogapher retains the copyright. Their release is just horribly worded it seems. Maybe it's overkill, but I'm considering taking the release to have a lawyer look at it.

Now I started thinking about tax/IRS concerns as well. They're an IRS Code Section 501(c) organization, so now I'm wondering how this whole donation works come tax time. I'll basically be donating a portrait session and all the final high res digital files from the session (they want at least 20). .....Time to call up my accountant.


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Aug 12, 2014 15:03 |  #10

Hmmm... Heard back from them again about the tax deduction thing. They classify the photographers who sign up for this as volunteers apparently. So the photographer is volunteering their services, not donating their services so no deduction. Seems like a grey area...


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Aug 12, 2014 16:48 |  #11

The IRS doesn't allow deducting the value of donated time anyway. You can deduct expenses you incur as a volunteer, such as the cost of travel.


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rivas8409
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Aug 12, 2014 18:46 |  #12

OhLook wrote in post #17091910 (external link)
The IRS doesn't allow deducting the value of donated time anyway. You can deduct expenses you incur as a volunteer, such as the cost of travel.

Right, I got that. It's just not time being donated though. Wouldn't the final images be considered a donation? They're a product with a value.

I'm just trying to get all my ducks in a row, you know?


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Aug 12, 2014 20:02 |  #13

Instructions for Schedule A (PDF) (external link)

The IRS can line up those ducks better than I can.


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