A photographer has accused the popular American media organization TED of requesting that he list a photo as Creative Commons with attribution and then failing to abide by those copyright rules. TED \u2014 which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design \u2014 hosts speaking engagements that are distributed online for free under the slogan \u201cideas worth spreading.\u201d According to photographer Paul Clarke, the organization forces photographers to list any photos of a TED event as creative commons, but fails to abide by those rules. Photographers are generally discouraged from working for free as many argue it devalues the industry, but Clarke explains that sometimes photographers choose to do so for a number of reasons. \u201cAs photographers, we tread a fine line between wanting our work to be seen, and wanting to be treated fairly. We want to avoid being exploited and try and ensure that we get some benefit from sharing our work,\u201d Clarke says. \u201cSometimes this benefit is measured in money, but sometimes we genuinely want to work with, or take photos of, something that\u2019s of benefit in other ways. And sometimes our access to interesting subjects is based on an understanding that we\u2019ll share the photos. \u201cWhen this happens, Creative Commons (CC) licensing gives us a recognized way of protecting our interests. In its simplest form, it allows others to use the photograph provided the attribute it properly: identifying the creator, and signifying that it\u2019s used under a \u2018CC license.'\u201d The issue isn\u2019t that Clarke was asked to share the photos for free, but how TED failed to keep up its end of the bargain. \u201cThe guidance on photography is pretty clear,\u201d Clarke tells PetaPixel. \u201cAnyone photographing a TEDx event is supposed to complete this release form. It\u2019s pretty broad-ranging in what it asks for, but it makes clear that you have to give the TED organization a whole lot of rights to use your work.\u201d The contract does not say that the company will use the work under a Creative Commons license, but instead says that they will distribute the work under Creative Commons. Clarke says this heavily implies that the company\u2019s usage should be on Creative Commons terms. \u201cIn 2012 the poet Lemn Sissay spoke at TEDxHousesOfParliament in London. I knew the organizer, and was in the audience as a guest. I took some photos \u2014 at that time, still developing my commercial photography business \u2014 and I was asked if I\u2019d contribute them under CC. There was no talk of a release form. I agreed and put them on Flickr with various tags relating to TED and the event as requested, gave them a CC license.\u201d he says. Clarke says that Lemn\u2019s talk turned out to be a big hit on TED and earned a place on the TED site. At the time of publication, the video had amassed over 970,000 views on the platform. \u201cAnd that\u2019s my picture, used as the holding image for his video,\u201d Clarke says. \u201cWhile there\u2019s space to credit the transcriber and reviewer, there\u2019s no attribution for the photo.\u201d Screenshot of the TED page, with credit area highlighted. Clarke argues that this is a clear breach of the permitted usage. \u201cIt constitutes a breach of my copyright \u2014 I\u2019m still waiting for TED to respond to my message of 5 January 2020 as to precisely what licensing they think they\u2019re using it under,\u201d he says. \u201cI looked at other pages on the main TED site and saw that they don\u2019t attribute photography anywhere that I could find. There\u2019s clearly space on the pages to do it; they are just choosing not to.\u201d Depressing to note that TED (of the talks) while insisting(!) on CC licensing of photos of their events, don't observe the attribution requirement when they use them on their own site. Putting them in breach of copyright and subject to action for recovery of damages. \u2014 Paul Clarke (@paul_clarke) June 3, 2021 \u201cI believe that TED and any of its \u2018TED Parties\u2019 is obligated to abide by Creative Commons licensing to provide attribution,\u201d Mickey Osterreicher, General Counsel for the National Press Photographer\u2019s Association (NPAA) tells PetaPixel in reference to TED\u2019s contract. \u201cThe question, as I see it, is that the terms of this \u2018release\u2019 do not specify which CC license is applicable.\u201d That said, Osterreicher does point out that all six Creative Commons licenses require attribution. \u201cEach becomes increasingly more restrictive, but all retain the minimum attribution requirement,\u201d he says. Clarke filed his photo under the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, which states that the photo can be distributed for non-commercial purposes as long as it is given appropriate credit. \u201cThe situation highlights a real point about how many times photographers are told that an organization does not have a budget, but they\u2019ll give you credit,\u201d Osterreicher said on the general subject of permission, credit, and compensation. \u201cAnd then the number of times that photographers are willing to accept those terms, and they don\u2019t even get that.\u201d Osterreicher says that organizations generally deeply devalue photography even though it is primarily responsible for drawing eyes to a subject. \u201cThey don\u2019t realize that it\u2019s the image that drives the page view online. It\u2019s the image that was above the fold on the newspaper that got the people to buy it along with the headline,\u201d he says. \u201cWhen it comes to providing that credit, what does it cost to them to do it?\u201d Not providing credit, especially in an area that is clearly designed for it seems easy and cheap for TED, yet the organization still does not do it. \u201cI don\u2019t know what the excuse is that they are not providing credit other than they couldn\u2019t care less. It\u2019s unfortunately a general attitude,\u201d Osterreicher continues. \u201c I worked at a newspaper and photographers were treated like second-class citizens and I don\u2019t think that has changed much.\u201d TED did not respond to PetaPixel\u2019s request for comment, and the photo remained uncredited at the time of publication. Photo by Paul Clarke While Clarke could sue for damages, he says that the track record for seeking damages for breach of copyright is not a good one. \u201cThere are some precedents, and some awards have been made, but some courts take the view that as the photographer has de facto valued the commercial rate for the image at \u2018zero\u2019, then compensation gets pegged to that,\u201d he says. \u201cWhat is the value of the photo had he decided to license the image? The courts will have to determine what the actual damage is, which is complicated and inconsistent,\u201d Osterricher says. Clarke says he finds TED\u2019s actions, or lake of action, \u201cshameful\u201d for a high-profile organization that preaches the value of sharing. \u201cTheir use will have given them some value, but it gave absolutely none to me,\u201d he says.