Shubnum Khan is the face that welcomes immigrants to various countries such as Canada and Uruguay. But she is busy balancing a career as a writer and artist, in addition to a business in New York that sells carpets. When she is also not leading treks to Cambodia, she has involvement with McDonalds group in China, dentistry in Virginia and oh – by the way – she has links with a French dating website.
Does this sound too good to be true? If it does, it probably is. (By the way, it is.)
It turns out that the South African author’s image was used without her knowledge as part of a stock photo image group – that is to say, companies and website owners can use her image if they remunerate the photographer that took the photo, if he happens to own the image rights.
The photographer does.
But how is it that she gave away her image rights, and allowed her image to be associated with causes that she does not even promote? It turns out that many years earlier she had participated in what was called a 100 Faces Shoot, where a photographer promised professional portraits in exchange for being snapped.
Let’s pause for a moment here – if someone offers you a free professional shoot, would you take up the offer? The more sceptical among us might say that a free shoot, when photographers normally charge upwards of hundreds of pounds, might be enough of a signal that something is amiss. There must be a catch right? The younger ones among us might leap into the chance to get free professional photos which might help in launching their careers, with good pictures to go on CVs and websites. But there must be something in it for the photographer, right?
It turns out the photographer said it was all part of an art project, but that’s a vague term that didn’t turn out well for Khan.
Sometimes a level of shrewdness in business dealings can work to your advantage. For example, Michael Jackson did not sing the Beatles songs, of course(!), but he owned the rights to them, giving himself a large sum from royalties. (You can read more about this from the Finsbury Park piano teacher blog.)
We live in a technological world where content is abundant. Our children need to grow to learn the skill of managing information and content – not to plagiarise it from the internet, to be careful of how their images are used, and most of all, it would be a good skill to know how to speak up if in doubt, and not to roll along and accept things blindly on trust!