BBC News editor: We may use social media photos without permission ‘in exceptional situations’

BBC News
BBC News has been criticized recently for using, without photographers’ permission, photos posted on social networks. In response to a complaint, someone from BBC News had wrongly contended that photos posted to Twitter were “in the public domain” because they are “available to most people who have a computer.” Social media editor Chris Hamilton clarifies that the organization’s policy is to “make every effort to contact people who’ve taken photos we want to use in our coverage and ask for their permission before doing so.” However, Hamilton noted, “where there is a strong public interest and often time constraints,” a senior editor may decide to “use a photo before we’ve cleared it.” || Related: Why do news organizations still attribute images and video to the platforms they were hosted on?

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  • John Goldsmith / Waxy

    I’m not yet sure if I agree with the BBC. On the one hand, I understand that timeliness can be critical and also usefulness of an image fades. However, the photographer should still be able to maintain the integrity to the rights of their photo. They should get to decide if and how it is used.

    Regardless of the ethical argument, if the BBC proceeds in this way, they should offer premium dollars to the photographer. After all, if they think that there is an exceptional need to use one’s photo, they should offer exceptional cash.

  • HallandaleBeachBlog

    In a related matter, for well over a year-and-a-half, the Miami Herald has used photos of prominent people in the news, entertainment or sports celebrities, as well as wannabe celebs, in their daily PEOPLE page in Section A without giving any photographer/agency credits.
    Depending upon the news that day, there can be anywhere from 6-10 photos displayed, and the only time they ever give a credit is if the photo was snapped by one of their own staff photographers.
    Otherwise, apparently, all the photos just magically fell from the sky and took themselves.

    And it’s not like they don’t realize it’s happening, as well over a year ago I pointed this out to their then-Executive Editor and Ombudsman. They just ignored it.

    The funny/not-so-funny part is that their clunky website’s Archives displays no photos of any kind, even while newspapers of smaller circulation often do. But that’s how it goes at the Herald these days -on the wrong side of the slippery slope.

  • Trish Smith

    This should be great news for photographers who need a little extra cash; I imagine a lawsuit against the BBC would be far more profitable than any fee they would have charged for the right to use the photo.