To get to the free milk, of course. We wonder why buy milk, when the cow will milk itself, bottle the milk, and just hand it over to you? Sound silly, but that seems to be the photographer & agent/rep relationship when it comes to money owed to you the photographer, when you find your copyrighted imaged infringed. You’re the cow and your agent/rep is the one with the milk mustache.
You never, never, ever give away you right to pursue (or defend) a copyright infringement claim to anyone else, ever. This is not a negotiable item. Typically large stock agencies want/demand the right to pursue infringement claims because there is more money to be made in doing that than in actually licensing your work. A lot more. Occasionally an agent or rep will seek that same right. You don’t give any agent your Constitutional and often very financially valuable right, to pursue your claims. The agent/rep is not a lawyer and is virtually never qualified to “settle” a claim without first consulting a lawyer. Additionally, agents and reps are loathe to sue or even threaten to sue “their” clients. The ad agencies and advertisers are more important to most agents and reps than you are. Beware that some agents, reps, and even galleries are requesting this “right” having taken a clue from stock agents like Getty and Corbis who have been profiting for years as a result of photographers gifting their Constitutional rights to them. They’ve been feasting on all that free milk.
IP attorneys are professionals, they know what the law provides and what is at stake for the individual author. Agents and reps will often sell you out to their clients and take a quick fee which may exceed any attorneys’ fees. If your image is registered you may be entitled to recover attorneys fees by law. You have no such statutory right to recover “agent/rep fees”. So agents and reps will rarely hire an attorney for you unless they can’t settle on the cheap. Then they deduct their attorneys fees, charged at rates (not agreed to by you) by the attorney who you did not select, but is likely to be a friend or relative of the agent. Those fees come off the top. Then the agent or rep gets an additional “commission” from the remaining monies recovered. That commission was “earned” for doing just what? Referring you to a lawyer when the agent or rep couldn’t get a settlement?
Often a suit not “worth” pursuing or defending from the agent’s or rep’s point of view, but is very worthwhile for the creator to pursue (or defend) for a buffet of really good reasons none of which are of any concern to an agent or rep. More than a few agents and reps “avoid lawyers at all costs”. Such a posture makes the creator just so much collateral damage. The bottom line analysis of the issue was best expressed by the (unnamed) robot from the classic television series, “Lost in Space” who was want to say: “It does not compute”.