If there are any lessons to take away from Shubnum Khan’s experience, one to be mindful of is that one should never expect anything for free. Another could be perhaps to be speak up whenever you feel uncomfortable about something, and not to simply brush it away simply because you are afraid of speaking up.
The aspiring author signed up many years ago for what she believed to be a free photo shoot. The photography had been organised as part of a project called the 100 Faces Shoot, where a photographer promised a hundred individuals a free professional portrait shot in exchange for the right to use the images as part of a project. The author signed a disclaimer and agreed to the terms, in exchange for a professional shot which might have been useful for future promotional purposes. What she had not counted on was that her picture would have been used for many purposes without her consent. Khan found that her image had been used in a Canadian newspaper for an advertisement on immigration, as the ‘after’ picture for dermatological advertisements, and even more alarmingly, as a testimonial image in various websites for purposes such as child minding, as if to suggest she were endorsing the product.
It turns out that the photography promised was not simply for the purposes for an art project, but to build a collection of stock images. Khan had signed up and allowed her images to be part of a stock image collection, which meant that any one could have bought her image and then used it for whatever purpose they desired.
One might argue that the writer has a cause for litigation, but as it turns out the contract that had been signed prior to the shoot listed out these terms. In her rush, excitement or perhaps naivety, she had not felt confident to clarify any terms that might have raised alarm bells, and brushed them aside. Or perhaps she believed it unimportant, or was too naive about the repercussions. The moral of the story could be – if in doubt, don’t be afraid to speak up, or raise an issue. Sweeping it under the carpet is not going to work!
There are things we may not understand – we may not understand why the world economies function as they are, or in the field of music, why musicians would claim to be aliens (you can read about the Mysterians in the Piano Teacher N15 blog, but when you face something strange – clarify!