Don’t Let Schmap Flatter You

I was recently contacted by travel e-guide publisher Schmap because they wanted to use one of my photos on my flickr stream for their guide to the city of Calgary. I quickly declined their offer of no pay whatsoever, especially after reading that they were asking for a world-wide, royalty-free perpetual license. That’s mighty generous of you, but no.

It’s always flattering to have someone appreciate my work enough to use it for a publication, but it’s hardly fair for this commercial publication to be making money from my photos.

A quick google search of Schmap later and result number six lead me to this piece from EPUK that nicely sums up my feelings on the issue.

If the first Dotcom bubble was all about selling imaginary businesses to stupid venture capitalists, Dotcom 2.0 seems mostly to comprise ingenious new methods of grabbing free photos from gullible amateurs on the wide-eyed web and re-purposing them to make a corporate mint.

The comments of the article are also worth reading as they contain a rebuttal from the editor of Shmap. In a series of points, he argues that the inclusion of a given photographer’s photo in a Shmap guide is a marketing opportunity. I’m not sure how telling people that I give away my work is a means of monetizing my images, but there you go…

And by the way, I have not linked to the Shmap web site not only because I disagree with their practices, but also because, when I visited their page to see if any of their guides might be useful, Shmap crashed my browser!

7 Responses to “Don’t Let Schmap Flatter You”

  1. Ramón says:

    I allowed them to use one of my pics for one of their city guides, but now they’ve requested two more.
    An illustrator friend was incensed that I gave them permission. Her argument is that a business has to have a graphics budget. A freebie from me allows them to stretch the money for the large cash payments that they’re going to make for graphics work. Your ego will be stroked, but they make the money.

  2. Joe Gray says:

    Absolutely beware of the Schmap People. I was ok with them using one of my pictures of Seattle, USA, with the understanding they would place a credit and a link to my photos. However, I just checked a few days ago and the link and credit completely disappeared! I contacted them to request they remove all these copied photos, or at least put back the credits and links. If they don’t comply, I’m going to complain to Flickr and hopefully get them blocked. I suggest all you do the same because they are obviously gaming the system.

  3. dsawchuk says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Joe. Good luck with getting them to take your photos down.

  4. mallix says:

    I’m still struggling to see the reason why Schmap is so bad? So what if they’re making money off the web and amateur photographers? They’re still providing a service. And link back to your photo with credits. I reckon that’s more exposure for you which would in turn lead to more chances of somebody actually buying photo.

  5. dsawchuk says:

    Just to address your points:

    “So what if they’re making money off the web and amateur photographers?”

    Generally, I would think that if someone is using your work for profit, there should be some kind of financial compensation, right? A link to your work is not sufficient compensation in my mind.

    “They’re still providing a service.”

    Photographers are providing a service too. And that’s why they should be compensated.

    “I reckon that’s more exposure for you which would in turn lead to more chances of somebody actually buying photo.”

    Quality of exposure matters. Do you really think that a lot of photo buyers are going to be looking through Schmap’s pages hunting for new talent? I’m pretty sure it just doesn’t work like that.

    In the end, if a publication buys an image license from you for a fair price, there’s a good chance they will give you credit and possibly a link to your site. I’d much rather be paid for my work and get some “exposure.”

  6. CM says:

    The cynic never advances. I let them use a picture and added it to my list of credentials. One picture won’t break my budget. You must give work to draw the market to you. You have the right to use them as they used your picture. Believe me, if you are smart you can get lots of mileage out of them. As long as they are not asking for money…you are fine. Or you can keep all your pictures to yourself and wait until someone notices you. Don’t hold our breath, you must drive your own marketing, everyone has a camera these days.

  7. dsawchuk says:

    So, out of curiosity, how exactly did you get all this mileage out of having a photo published with them?

    I’m not trying to be cynical, I just genuinely don’t know how being published by this company would aid in my marketing efforts. If you have good ideas, I would be happy to hear them.

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