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posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @11:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the has-anyone-seen-my-face? dept.

Who owns the rights to your face?:

Last year, I received an Instagram DM from someone I was friends with in college. It had been a couple years since we'd caught up: We lived in different cities, had pursued different careers and, of course, the pandemic had brought any plans of hanging out again to a standstill. I was surprised to see her name pop up on my screen but even more so by the contents of her message.

It was my face. Specifically, it was me in a sponsored Instagram Story ad, putting on a lip balm. In the video, I applied the balm and smiled at the camera, looking pleased with my newly moisturized lips. In real life, I was confused. I had never agreed to appear in a nationwide social campaign, otherwise my checking account would have a couple more zeroes to show for it. I worked in the media industry then, sourcing the right influencers to participate in sponsored articles. I've spent years casting with talent, negotiating contracts to ensure fair compensation and modest usage rights for influencers, models, and real people. Based on my experience, it was clear that my image was being exploited by a multibillion dollar brand.

Usage rights dictate who owns an image or asset, exactly how, where it's allowed to appear, and for how long: A video is pricier than a photo, one month costs more than one year, and you'd charge a global brand much more than what you'd charge a growing business. Depending on the talent, the scale of the client, and the length of the campaign, standard licensing of images on social media alone can cost anywhere from $250 to $20,000.

Despite this, anyone who has worked at a media company will tell you that employees are often pressured to serve as a stand-in or supplement to these influencers. However, these campaigns are not a part of the full-time job and likely go uncompensated.

[...] Generally speaking, we hold the copyright to any content we upload to social media platforms. However, when we create our accounts, we agree to grant those platforms a free license to use our content as they wish. Twitter's recent ad campaigns are a perfect example: the everyday thoughts of regular people are what fuel the platform, and the decision to feature those tweets in marketing has been widely applauded. But as a Twitter user myself, spotting my own words on the train ride home would feel great, until I remember that one month of subway ads can cost up to $75,000. But, based on the terms and conditions I agreed to, none of that money has to make its way to me.

Our content is even more valuable to brands, who are slowly narrowing in on the average social media user. Where large companies were once funneling most of their influencer marketing budget into one or two macro influencers with 500,000 followers or more, companies like HelloFresh and Canon are now prioritizing the niche audiences of micro- and nano-creators. Research shows that shoppers find smaller creators "more authentic" and brands have identified those creators as "less costly," making regular people a win-win for boosting sales.

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Dichzor on Friday August 05, @02:22PM (3 children)

    by Dichzor (4816) on Friday August 05, @02:22PM (#1265107)

    Q: Who Owns the Rights to Your Face?
    A: The question is malformed. It's like asking, who owns the empty space im standing in.

    The picture/video is a pattern of binary digits, it can be generated by a random process, copied and stored indefinitely without any significant additional expense and therefore is completely unlike any physical object that traditionally was considered ownable, by dirty human monkeys.
    On the basis of that, it is my opinion, that concept of ownership does not apply to things that aren't physical objects (and even then its... problematic).

    So there is no problem, 'cos there are no rights.. and no licensing fees, ahaha.

    But clearly, some people think otherwise.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, @04:45PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, @04:45PM (#1265133)

    Some people are in a position where they feel like they'd benefit from loose ownership. Others aren't. Your life's circumstances have probably led you in a direction that's different from others. If you were creating content and having it ripped off, you might feel differently, although that's no guarantee because (biggest example) the recording industry's failed promise of wealth (or even solvency) for artists on the basis of IP has led some artists to ignore or even encourage copying (most famously, the Grateful Dead).

    So while I would most certainly not want use my likeness used outside my control (and have even made some DMCA takedown requests for that very reason) you don't care? Different strokes for different folks.

  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Friday August 05, @05:12PM

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Friday August 05, @05:12PM (#1265137) Journal

    It's like asking, who owns the empty space im standing in.

    I don't know where you are currently standing, so I can't tell. But I know that the empty space I am currently sitting in is owned by me. But then, I'm often in spaces owned by others. For example every time I'm shopping.

    So yes, the question who owns the empty space you're standing in is definitely meaningful.

    Well, at least if we ignore the fact that if you are standing in that space, it is by definition not empty.

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Saturday August 06, @06:17AM

    by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 06, @06:17AM (#1265235)

    > it can be generated by a random process

    As can the works of Shakespeare. It needs a lot of monkeys though.