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© Photo Copyright

Our extensive image library consists of more than 50,000 original pictures, produced exclusively for Milwaukee Independent news features. The contents of the collection are NOT public domain.

All images published on MilwaukeeIndependent.com unless otherwise attributed remain the exclusive © copyright and intellectual property of Milwaukee Independent LLC. Images published with permission or under a Creative Commons license remain the property of their original copyright holder.

Why Milwaukee Independent does not sell editorial photography:

Editorial images are part of our mission to be transformative with our news coverage, not to make a profit from their commercial usage.

While many local news organizations sell their editorial photos, the Milwaukee Independent does not. We are an advertising-free nonprofit news service, and as such we do not profit from our work.

Our images are taken in the context of editorial content, which means they cannot be licensed for commercial usage. This is the most frequent request we get for using our images, and to do so would violate our core policy.

As an award-winning daily news magazine that does not monetize by click or analytics, reporting on something newsworthy to the public is not enough. Apparently, we also owe or are obligated to surrender our property, after investing our time and skill without compensation to produce. Because, we were given “access” to a news situation.

We did not start out with this strict position. We wanted to be holistic and helpful, until we were abused to the point where it affected our work. As a result, we have gotten more flack for this policy, from organizations and events who love our photos and cannot understand why they cannot use – or even have to pay for – our journalistic pictures for the marketing efforts they profit from.

The excuse we hear is that other news organizations sell their images. But, ironically, those other news outlets were not actually around to cover or report on what we did. The result, by default, is that Milwaukee Independent got the scoop and had the only photos.

Reporting the news to enlighten the public should be enough, but in many of these situations the people and organizations feel they own the images, often demanding we hand them over. They did not have to pay a photographer and in turn profit from the work we produced at our own expense. Some of the biggest abusers have actually been charitable foundations who have used our photos in their fundraising campaigns, yet have done nothing to support our work.

We continue to suggest that these entities enlist and actually pay commercial photographers to take pictures for them. That is what commercial photographers are in business for, not photojournalists who abide by the law to take non-commercial editorial images.

Even then, when multiple commercial photographers are on site, we still get a hassle over the usage of our images. Everyone else gets paid but us, which we accept as part of the price we pay to complete our journalism.

If other newspapers and magazines monetize their photo library by volume, that is their choice and business model. We again suggest seeking them as a photo resource. We will find other news to shine our light on, because the we make the same profit from one click or a million clicks – that profit is zero.

So our policy remains that we will not sell our images. We do collaborate with other news organizations and under those specific terms we have a different policy for how our photography is used and shared, because it remains in the realm of an editorial context. We also release our photos with a watermark on social media. It protects our © and attribution, while allowing the public to share in a non-commercial space.

We have stopped photographing events and organizations that directly threatened and denied our access as a news outlet, expecting that we work for them for free and have to surrender all the pictures we take and publish as editorial news for their own commercial pursuits. We are happy to redirect our limited resources elsewhere, and they are welcome to coerce other news organizations, if they show up.

Here is some basic information about photography licensing. Even if we did license our images, as editorial content they cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Content that is licensed for commercial use has many more restrictions than content that is licensed for editorial use, because commercial content is used for advertising and promotional purposes.

For commercial content, permission is required from property owners, artists, and recognizable people in the image. Editorial content does not because this content is used for the public good via news outlets.

“Editorial photography cannot be used to sell, promote, or monetize a business, product or service. It can contain logos, business names and recognizable people without model releases. Editorial content CANNOT be used to monetize a business, but can be used for news or educational purposes.” – Shuttеrstоck

Editorial images can be used for editorial purposes only.

Editorial-licensed images can be used for editorial purposes that include newspapers, magazines, editorials, newsletters, blogs, and non-commercial uses relating to events that are newsworthy or of general interest.

Editorial images cannot be used for any commercial use, including for-profit advertorials.

“Commercial photography can be used to commercialize, monetize, sell, promote, and advertise a product, business or service. It could be used on a billboard, a website, a blog, a brochure, a Facebook Ad, or even a television commercial.” – Shuttеrstоck

The Milwaukee Independent WILL NOT grant any photo licensing or image usage for any purpose. The material published here is editorial content and not a free stock photo library.

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