Ashley Morrison's Blog

September 11, 2016

The Exchange.

I’ve talked about Licensing here: Base Usage Rate – which is basically where one agrees beforehand, to hire oneself to do the work first, and then you ask your client (or clients) to pay​ you (when you go to invoice them afterward) for the Rights to use that work (that you obviously own, after you have created the images).

So in a way​, this is a bit like agreeing to sell them ‘Stock images’ afterward​ – all be it ones which you knew before you took them or produced them or even created them, that they would want to use them… as well as what they wanted to use them for, how long, etc, etc.

And I’ve talked about agreeing to do work made for hire here: A ‘Work Made For Hire’ type of agreement – which is basically where ones ask​ their client beforehand, to pay you for not only ‘your time’ to do whatever work it is that they wanted you to do for them, but also cover all of the other expenses too (like cameras, lights, lenses, computers, etc, etc) – so as you can then do whatever work it is, with that gear that they want you to use, during the time period that they have agreed to pay you for.

Both of these types of agreements can work well for both parties, as far as I’m concerned – as they are both pretty clear-cut and therefore easy to understand.

Today however I’m going to talk about The Exchange agreement – which is basically where one asks the client beforehand, to agree to pay you for your time to do the work (and possibly something towards your out-of-pocket expenses too) in exchange for the Rights to use any work that you do.
Which sounds straightforward enough – and is, so long as neither party asks to many questions and everyone just expects that once the invoice is paid, that’s it.
So the photographer gets what they want (which is to be paid for their time & expenses) and the client gets what they want (which is some images for them to use).

Which means everyone is happy smile

Happy that is, until like I said about, one or other parties starts to question what exactly the deal is or was here. For example, did the photographer agree to All Rights here (meaning the client would now own the Copyright) OR was it just for the Rights to use the work in All media for an Unlimited period of time throughout the World (meaning the photographer would still own the Copyright, but the client could use the images for as long as they liked, in any way that they wanted to, etc, etc) Or was it for the Rights to use the work for less than this ?

And are we talking about Exclusive use here (meaning only this client can use the images) or are we talking about Non-exclusive use here (meaning others could also use these images too, including this client’s competitors) ?

So what’s the deal?​

For example, the client agrees beforehand, to pay you £700 afterwards, for ‘your time & expenses’ to do have done the work – and in exchange for that, you would agree to hire yourself to do the work first (which is why you would then naturally own it) and you would then grant them or give them what ??
Because it’s obviously not going to be ‘your time & expenses’ that you are going to be giving them here, even though that is what you have actually asked them to pay you for or what they have agreed to pay you for – so it’s what you are going to be giving them in exchange for paying you for this, that needs to be made clear here… before any work is done.

Or maybe you don’t need to actually give them any images at all here – because if you were to pay a Musician for example, for their time & expenses, they wouldn’t automatically give you a copy of the music that they played, for you to use afterward​ !!

Or if they were​ only prepared to pay you £400 here, instead of £700, then what would the deal be?

Or if after seeing the final results, they said that they didn’t want to use any of the images (because they were all basically useless), then what would the deal be?

Or what if they decided to use them for the next 10 years, rather than asking you back each year to shoot more – which you were banking on – then what would the deal be?

Or which would you say is better: an image that only took you 5 minutes to produce that they wanted to use for the next 5 years in multiple media OR an image that took you 5 hours to produce that they only wanted to use for a few weeks in one media?

And do you think the client would agree, i.e. the better image is always the one that they have to pay you more for, rather than the one that they would want to use more ??

In other words, does it actually matter what the images look like or how good they are or even if there are any images at all here !!

More questions than answers – many of which I would find hard to answer – which is why I wouldn’t recommend this type deal to anyone – even though I’m aware The Exchange deal is probably one of the most common type of agreements that is use by photographers, especially by those who are just starting out – because at first it seems to be a very simple​ deal, which it is, so long as as neither party asks many questions and everyone just expects that once the invoice is paid, that’s it wink


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