Wednesday, September 2, 2009


So. I take pictures for Northern Arizona University's (NAU) sports department. I'm the official photographer of every team, every sport. I take a lot of pictures and they end up a lot of places around campus. I knew from the beginning that they would end up on the sports website ( and on posters and calendars... pretty much whatever my boss could think to put them on. When I was hired there was no clause in my contract (in fact, I'm not even sure I signed a contract) that stated who retains copyrights to the images I shoot while working for them. What is assumed, is that I retain full privileges to use the images as I see fit, and the university has those same rights.

Here's the tricky bit. A local newspaper that covers the Northern Arizona area has apparently made a bit of an agreement with the university sports department. Whenever the paper doesn't want to send a photographer to a sports event, the university sports department (me) will provide them with a photo from the event. In return, I will receive a photo credit and can have the pride of having my images published in a real newspaper.

On one hand, I'm glad the images are getting seen by a bunch of people and I'm glad I can say I was published in the AZ Daily Sun.

On the other hand, I'm kind of peeved that I'm not getting any real compensation for having my images double-published. The deal with the university is that they pay my tuition straight up (somewhere on the order of $8,500/year), and I take pictures all year for them. The deal they have worked out with the paper is such that whenever the paper doesn't want to (or can't) send a photographer, they get an image for free from NAU (me).

My question is: Do I need a real contract drawn up that explicitly states what the university and I are allowed to do with my photos? It seems to me like the newspaper is getting for free what they traditionally pay decent money for. It has 2 photographers on staff and they don't work for free.... so why should I (or the university) be giving them my work for free?

Drop me a comment below, or find me on Twitter @mattbeaty to let me know what you think!