Simply put, it's a way to keep all of us happy.
my photographers and I have struggled to educate our customers about US and International copyright laws. There are a large number of photographic print buyers that believe a couple of dollars paid to buy the print gives them the absolute right to scan that image and use it however they want. They take their scan to the local Walmart to make copies. They put the image on their web site without giving a photographers credit, even claiming the copyrights and their own. And a few (you KNOW who you are) have even offered bootleg copies for sale to others. To paraphrase an old commercial, "Got Brass?"
It can be a full time job to chase every copyright violator. And every time somebody lifts an image from this site to make a bootleg copy it takes a small bit of profit away. It all adds up and the loss makes it so we can't upgrade our equipment. This lessens our ability to bring you some great racing photos from the infield, an area that is restricted to authorized track photographers only.
To make it easier for us to bring legal action against the bootleggers, we are ceasing the routine printing of our images. From now on you will be able to purchase a users license on-line for just $3 per image. How does that make it easier to pursue a legal remedy? Easy. When you purchase the users license and download the image you are agreeing to an explicit contract that allows only specific use of the image. If you violate the spirit of that contract we can take you to federal court. Our software keeps track of WHO has purchased a license agreement. If we see one of our images posted somewhere in violation of the agreement, or a print copy being offered for sale - the next thing you will likely get from us is a subpoena.
Are we being a bunch of hard nosed, soft skinned, jerks? No, we are protecting our copyright.
Casual observers may think we are having a good time down there in the infield. Snapping photos all night long and seeing some great racing action. Yes, we generally enjoy the work, but it is WORK
. On an average night our photographers are on their feet for five hours without a break. A long night keeps them up on aching feet for up to seven or eight hours.
They are choking on dust for that entire time, or slogging through ankle deep mud. It's difficult to see and therefore to safely walk. There is always a risk of being hit by a race car spinning through the infield, or taking a hit from parts that fly off the cars. Getting pelted by flying stones and huge clods of mud is routine.
On a cold night there is no reasonable way to keep hands and the cameras warm. We just have to suffer. On hot nights sweat acts as a magnet for the dust, making it all the more uncomfortable. Keeping the camera lenses and shutters clean is another burden others rarely think about.
Our job doesn't stop once the picture is taken. Between 1,200 and 2,300 images are taken every race night. It takes HOURS to sort through all of them, judging which are technically unacceptable because they are out of focus, dark, improperly framed, etc. Those that are acceptable still have to be cropped properly, color corrected, and cataloged. Imagine just how peeved we are when we find somebody is not only failing to compensate us a measly couple of dollars, but making the claim the image is THEIRS and trying to re-sell what they stole!
Please, don't think we are angry at all of you. Far from it. We've got some great customers out there that make us smile when they toss a compliment our way. We thank you for recognizing our hard work is worth a couple of dollars. We appreciate it even more when you give that effort the respect it deserves.
Go to the photo gallery and look for your favorite driver. The new software allows us to "Tag" the images so that you will be able to search by race date and driver name. Like crash photos? Put crash into the search window and it will filter out everything but those moments the drivers would rather forget.
Your comments and polite suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Your respect for our copyright is requested.