It is obvious from the drama over the past week that the rules regarding the posting and commenting on photography are unclear and uncertain. This new rule will clarify the situation in black and white.
First, Paulding.com is a business. It obtains compensation for advertising and from the sale of specific classes of membership that allow specific membership levels license to advertise their services on the site.
As our goal is to avoid formal court action including the filing of complaints over theft of service under Georgia Law (OCGA: O.C.G.A. § 16-8-5 ) and also clarify what is permitted under rules regarding general membership, we institute the following rules:
1. As a general rule, Professional photographers may not post any pictures or videos of their own creation unless they are a business member of the site. There are two exceptions to this rule:
A: The photograph posted is breaking news photos as News photos may be published on the site without prior prior permission and may be credited to the poster whether or not they are a professional photographer and regardless of their status as a business member on the site or not.
B. Professional photographers may post their own photo only as a reply to a topic in the photohounds forum or appropriate news forum that is in a topic devoted to entries in a contest. The contest topic would be the editorial focus of the topic and any posts/replies that divert from that focus will be set invisible. The contest entered could be a recognized state, national or local photography contest in which they entered for competition and or won an award.
Posts by third parties:
Those who have had a session with a professional photographer who is not a business member may only post photographs of their family ONLY by uploading the photograph in the post they make. Such photographs uploaded shall not be embedded - use of the IMG tag is prohibited - but must be uploaded to the original post in the manner that results in the presentation of the photograph in thumbnail form. The photography may carry the copyright note and stylized logo of the photographer in its normal unobtrusive position on the original photograph. The original poster will refrain from crediting the photographer in the text of the post and is prohibited from specifically recommending the non-business member photographer in the post in order to avoid the appearance of the posting being 'stealth' advertising. (Let the photographs and your presentation of them speak for themselves. You certainly may say that your kids look cute and that you are happy with the photographs but you should refrain from stating a formal recommendation of the photographer. I.e. the picture is great but asserting the photographer is great is something you can leave to the reader to surmise.) The photographer may not be mentioned in the text of the topic, nor may the photos link in any way to the professional photographers business or personal site. If the photographer's name is mentioned and given kudoos for the photography, the topic will be closed, and at the option of the moderators of the site, set invisible to avoid the issue of stealth advertising.
Regular members who are amateur photographers may post their photos provided the subject of sale of the photos or service are not referenced or discussed in any substantive way. Typically, the subject matter of the topic will not relate to practice of photography, but the focus of interest will be on the subject of the photographs. Artsy photography, where the subject is the photographic technique and artistic beauty of the photograph, may not reference the offering of services by the photographer. Such a reference will result in the closing of the topic.
Professional photographers who are PCOM business members may post their work as demonstration of the prowess in the photohound forums, the countywide news forum, the business news forum, and other appropriate forums. They may promote their business through the use of testimonial ads in which their customers speak of the work. The business license purchased from Paulding.com by those in this business explicitly provides them a license to present their work, obtain testimonials and gain accolades for their professional skills.
Answering recommendations for family photographers in posts. The current rule remains in effect. This would allow a member to recommend a non-business member on the site by name and general location (i.e. XYZ on Wendy Bagwell in Hiram or on Main Street in Dallas - no specific address.) . However, the recommendation may not provide the non-business member photographer's telephone number, web site link, map, detailed directions or map. The recommending member may provide that information via PM or email.
I hate to be this way but it is obvious the lack of clarity is causing issues, hurt feelings and the like. Allowing non-business members the opportunity to have a full recommendations including embedded pictures and specific recommendations dilutes the benefits of the premium business membership. As there are clear benefits premium membership and failure to establish and enforce those clear differences encourages questionable behaviors and also makes exercising sanctions against such behaviors more difficult to enforce formally, the institution of this new rule is unavoidable.
March 12, 2009