Making Money from Your Smartphone

We have all heard the saying about a photo being worth a thousand words. What if that same photo was worth $1,000 or $4,000 or maybe more? I am talking actual dollars payable to you. The creators of the new app Foap created a stock photo royalty free platform to take smartphone photos, captured by folks like you and me, and have found a way to monetize those photos by way of licensing fees. Everyone now has an easier way of potentially earning money from the photography you take on your smartphone, which is subject to copyright protection.

The way it works is much like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or any other social media platform. You start by downloading the app Foap to your phone and creating a profile. Then, you upload any and all of those photos, metaphorically speaking, gathering dust on your smartphone.

The website for Foap states:

“Our vision is to let people from all over the world earn money from selling their smartphone photos—simply by downloading our free app, snapping a photo and uploading it to the Foap Market. When someone buys the photo, the photographer can cash out his/her money. And best of all, the photographer can sell the same photo over and over again”

Potential users of the photos can go to the Foap webpage to search for images. For example, if I wanted to include a photo of a smartphone to put in this blog, I would search for and purchase for $10 any of the 5 pages of photos available. The original photographer of the photo would earn $5, Foap would keep $5, and the purchaser of the photos could use the photo unlimited amounts of time.

A recent story with ABC, HERE, stated one person made nearly $4,000 in less than a year for their photo. Not a bad payday. Of course all this talk of photography and fees had me thinking about the ownership rights and the retention of copyright in the photos.

Foap could be a good deal monetarily, and from a copyright ownership standpoint, remains a good deal. On their Frequently Asked Question section the Foap creators state “you never loose the right to your photos on Foap. You sell the rights to use the photo – both in the market and in a mission.” Meaning, you as the photographer who created the photo on your smartphone could remove the photo at any time, could resell it, redistribute, create a derivative work, publish or any matter of things that a copyright owner can do to a work, as I explained in The Magic Wands of Copyright. Of course, you could not stop users from using the photo after the user rightfully purchased it prior to you removing the photo.

For film creators, advertisement agencies, t-shirt makers and even down to your lowly blog writers, Foap is also a good deal for you. It claims to be “the easiest photo license in the world.” When a photographer uploads a photo, the photographer decides whether to have the photo labeled as “commercial” or “editorial.” A photo with a commercial designation means companies can associate that photo with advertising goods or services. Think – use the photo to make money. The editorial designation allows purchasers to use the photo in a less commercial sense, for example including it in a blog post. Editorial use is usually not for selling a product.

The photographs you purchase for $10 do appear to be “the easiest photo license(s) in the world.” You can use the $10 purchase unlimited amounts of time, you can re-edit the photos or combine them with other works. The $10 fee with unlimited use is a more affordable option and comes with less legal strings compared to places like Associated Press photos. However, a word of caution for photographs containing identifiable persons, especially when you are using the photo for a commercial purpose.

Earlier posts HERE and HERE discussed right of publicity and how we all have the right to say how our image appears and what products the image is associated with. While Foap photographers must guarantee to Foap they have permission and obtained a model release for the persons, we all know in this social media age that may or may not have actually happened. Therefore, if you are to use a photo containing a person I would proceed with caution. Foap, of course and is stated numerous places on their website, will take none of the responsibility should the person later sue you for invasion of privacy. Also, it might be hard to actually locate the photographer who uploaded the photo. A bit of caution and extra checking should be advised, especially if you are using the photo in a commercial way to sell products.

In the alternative and some food for thought for my photographer and filmmaker friends, if you do decide to upload photos containing people I would take a few extra steps. I would disclose to your model that you plan to upload it to Foap. I would also ask them to sign something giving you permission to do so. A large paycheck of $5,000 in a year might be nice, but if you have to blow it on attorneys’ fees, it might not be worth it.

Finally, it seems apps like Foap may have already initiated a positive effect on the stock photography market. Just yesterday, Getty Images announced it was releasing nearly 35 million photos for noncommercial use. You can read all about it HERE from PC Mag. You can start utilizing Getty’s tool by going HERE on the Getty Images website. Times are a changing – at least in the world of stock photography. What do you think? Take part in the conversation below and Stay Tuned In!

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4 thoughts on “Making Money from Your Smartphone

  1. Pingback: Top 5 Biggest Copyright & Trademark Stories of 2014 … So Far | Statute of RyAnne

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