A major national magazine simply appropriates several images shot by a semi-professional photographer “from a small town”. Photographer sees his/her work on the cover of the well-known supermarket magazine while paying for groceries.

Photographer contacts the Big City editor.

“What the heck? No one contacted me or asked me if you could use my shots and by the way how did you get my pix”?

Editor says, “No problem we will be sending you our standard form. Simply sign and return it to us and we are done”.

So the form goes to the photographer who upon reading it contacts Ed. Here’s the form with the name of the publication and other identifiers missing. The grammar or lack thereof is in the original. One final important note to remember while reading the “standard form” – the photographer and the magazine have never, ever done any business with each other before.




This is to simply re-state our policy consistent with long established industry practice regarding the rights and usage of photographs used on our cover and/or inside of our magazine.  Once a photo has been selected for the magazine, in consideration of the applicable fee if any, we have the right to do customary editorial work to incorporate the photo into the cover.

Ownership of the photograph and the copyright of it remain with you unless a specific agreement to the contrary is reached between you and us.  However we retain the right to use any photo on the cover of our magazine and reproduce the cover for any purpose in perpetuity without payment.

I am sure that you realize that this represents no change in policy, but we wanted to get it on paper. Please sign below and return this form to me as an acknowledgement of this policy and your acceptance of it.

We appreciate your contribution.





  1. There was no “contribution” the image was stolen;
  2. The parties had no business relationship;
  3. Magazine had no intention of paying photographer and made the point clear ;
  4. Photographer keeps the copyright but magazine can use it in perpetuity for…wait for it…wait for it…free, forever.

All we can say is that there was a happy ending for the photographer who had registered the images.