Read about my first year with RYDE (formerly known as KODAKOne) and why I think every photographer should use their services.
It’s been twenty years since I graduated from the New England School of Photography in Boston. That’s a long time, and a lot of things have changed. People are using phones to take pictures, instead of cameras. We have the ability to instantly share photos for free, with the entire world. And the perceived worth of a photograph has evaporated. If it’s digital, and if it’s online, people think that it’s free.
But of course, that’s not true.
In 2008, I started photographing for a travel project called For 91 Days, living in different locations for three months and documenting my experiences. Over the past decade, I’ve amassed over 50,000 images. It’s been fun, but it was never work that paid well, and I’ve always struggled. But right now, I’ve never felt more secure. And that’s thanks to RYDE.
Copyright Laws Protect Your Photography
There are copyright laws in place to protect creators like me… and there always have been. During the years in which I was creating and publishing high-quality content, I was well aware that others were stealing my images, but I wasn’t able to do anything about it. If I asked for payment, the infringers would laugh me off. And if I threatened legal action, they’d just delete the images. Never, ever, did they actually pay me.
But this changed in 2019, when I was invited to join RYDE. They protect the rights of my published work, and help me track down images which have been used without my permission. And then they ensure that anyone who’s been using my work pays a post-license fee.
Since I joined a year ago, RYDE has found hundreds of cases of unauthorized, commercial usages of my photos. Many of them have already been settled and paid out, generating a new and reliable stream of income.
Education About Licensing is the Key
The money is great, but what I appreciate most is the basic fairness. I’m finally being paid for work which has been stolen for years, by companies who were using it to turn a profit. These websites and corporations are being taught that photos on the internet are not just “for free”. And perhaps they’ll learn that if they see an amazing photograph which they want to use, they need to get a license for it. That gives me hope for my own career, and the careers of other photographers like me.
I’ve had an amazing experience with RYDE, and have been enthusiastically recommending it to my friends and colleagues. And of course, I was thrilled when they asked me to be an official ambassador of the program, because it’s something I believe in completely.
How Does RYDE Work?
After you’ve uploaded your photographs to RYDE’s platform, their crawlers will begin searching across the internet. When they find a hit, it’s added to a database.
There are going to be a lot more hits than you expect. But don’t worry, because a human curator will look through them all individually. Not all of them are worth pursuing. For example, if it’s a tiny blog with few followers, this isn’t something that RYDE is going to waste your time with. They’re looking for cases which will end with a payment.
And everything they find needs to be approved by you. That’s important, because sometimes the usage is valid: you don’t want one of your legitimate clients receiving a scary message from a digital rights organization.
Once you approve a case, RYDE reaches out to the infringer politely, inquiring if they have permission to use the photograph. The goal is to settle these cases without involving a lawyer. But no worries; if one is needed, RYDE will assume the risk and pay for any legal fees.
For the photographer, there is no cost. You will never pay a thing to RYDE, and you don’t have to give up any rights to your photographs. They remain completely yours.
RYDE makes their money through the recovered license fee, which is split between you and them. This is one of those rare win-win situations… you win, by getting paid for work you published long ago. RYDE wins by using their legal power to close simple cases of copyright theft. And you could even say that the infringers win — once they pay for the post-license, they’ve done the right thing.
Get in Touch with Me
Currently, RYDE is a closed platform but if you’d like to know more, please get in touch with me. As an ambassador, I’m able to give you a detailed introduction of their system, help figure out if you’d fit, and even schedule an onboarding call with them.
Like I said, this is something I believe in completely. Every photographer who publishes their images online should use something like RYDE, in order to protect the value of their work. We’ve invested too much time, money, and effort into our photographs, to accept that they can just be stolen without consequence.