Fairfax Can Clique Off

Photography careers are dead bobToday Fairfax Media announced it was firing 80 people which includes 30 of their 50 photography staff, announcing they would source most of their material from Getty images instead.

While this move will be seen by many as merely another note in the funeral dirge for traditional media, the particularly heavy emphasis on firing their photography talent raised a bit of an alarm bell for me on another front.

Not only will this certainly mean a drastic drop in quality of photos in the various Fairfax publications and the continued support of Getty images, a company that notoriously provides very little royalties to photographers themselves but it also raises the question of why would any Australian photographer ever want to be involved with Clique ever again?

What The Hell Is Clique?

The “Clique Photographers Association” sells itself as an association for amateur photographers to help them learn, get some nice discounts and ultimately participate in photography challenges which offer the opportunity to be published in Fairfax papers, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Clique is partnered with big names such as Canon Australia and Adobe, combined with the relatively low fee of $50 ($25 if you’re a Fairfax subscriber) makes this appear a pretty good deal and overall it probably is. However with this most recent announcement one can’t help but wonder…

Less Clique More Trojan Horse?

I have to admit I’ve never really been comfortable with Clique and for that reason I’ve never made the move to join it despite the potential it offered. The copyright section of the Terms & Conditions never really sat well with me.  Don’t get me wrong it’s no an out and out copyright grab (like some competitions) and they very explicitly state the copyright remains you but you do grant Fairfax (‘the Organaiser’) the following:

However, each participant grants the Organiser (and its related bodies corporate) an irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide licence to deal with participants’ images (in any format):

a. for any express purpose identified during the Program (including to publish any winning images on the Organiser’s digital platforms and in print.
b. for any implied purpose associated with the Program (including publication on any closed network associated with the Program or for the purposes of providing feedback in relation to an image);
c. for the purposes of promoting the Program.
d. The Organiser will endeavour to contact the Participant to inform the Participant when and how their image will be used in relation to the Program.
e. Participants’ images will not be stored on the Fairfax Media photographic data base – Fairfax Digital Collections (FDC)

For the avoidance of doubt, the foregoing licence entitles the Organiser to reformat any image for the purpose of publication or display.
You will not bring any claim against the Organiser for infringement of your moral rights in the image.

It’s not the worst I’ve seen but it gives them a lot of free reign to do what they want with your photo and you get to pay them for the privilege. Neat trick.

This Won’t Clique

Which leads us back to the firings announced today. Now that Fairfax management has shown they see photography as burdensome expense they can better replace with stock images (and I’m betting more “crowd sourced” material as well) why exactly would any amateur photographer in Australia want to be a part of Clique? Seriously?

Will Canon Australia or Adobe raise concerns about this? How can they continue working with Fairfax to further educate photographers when Fairfax seems unable to see the value in doing so? Indeed what is the future of Clique in this bold new stock images first world at Fairfax? Will it even remain in place until the end of this year as planned?

For me I won’t consider Clique any further. I won’t support an association run by a corporation that seems unable to support the people that make up that association. There are far better places to interact with photographers and while they might not offer the publishing possibilities of Clique, I’ll be happier knowing they actually give a damn about photography.