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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 August 2005, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
From the editor's desktop: Your response
Sylvia Sim
Pete Clifton, editor of the BBC News website, takes some flak for not paying for citizen journalism, and gets worryingly excited about great aunt Sylvia. Read a selection of your comments.

Your comments:

Not to pay even a nominal fee is simply exploitation
Aminah Carroll, Gallipolis Ferry, WV, USA
Photo credit should be given and a fair amount of money paid for any photos used from citizen journalists in reporting news. To do otherwise is unfair to the professional photographers who otherwise would have been printed as well as to the individuals whose photos are circulated internationally to make a newspaper more marketable. Not to pay even a nominal fee is simply exploitation, irrespective of the willingness of the "citizen" photographer. Professional photographers are citizens too.
Aminah Carroll, Gallipolis Ferry, WV, USA

If a photograph is of a professional standard, and to be used alongside the words of professional journalists, it should be paid for. But, as few people volunteer to pay for something they can get free, it is up to individuals to state their terms.
Giddy, London

Don't stop writing this column! It's a bastion of humanity amongst the otherwise soulless sea of the corporate Beeb. You give a face to the site. An edge. Humour. Something to connect with. In all seriousness, I absolutely commend little touches like this column, and especially the effort you make to involve readers in an attempt to improve the site. It's refreshing to see someone who says they "listen" to their punters, but then actually does something about it.
Steve, London, UK

With regards to the ongoing saga of "citizen journalism", why can't people understand that not everyone is out to make a fast buck simply because they happened to be in the presence of a newsworthy event with a camera? This argument of the BBC profiting from other people's free labour is nonsense. It enriches the experience of the viewing public, of which the amateur photographer is a part. God help us if we're entering an era where nothing can be imparted without considering how it's going to boost our own bank balance.
Mark, Croydon, UK

I have to say that I find your policy completely unacceptable. It is not about the money as such, it is the sheer arrogance of the statement "you agree to grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide". I am not at this time a professional photographer, but I have been, and there is no way I can agree to such terms. I feel quite strongly about my ownership of my images, and your terms are not at all acceptable. As far as I am concerned, it is not about money, it is about being able to retain control of images to which I have the copyright. I will not submit any images to the BBC under your current terms and conditions.
Helge, Aberdeen, Scotland

What's all this about being paid for 'citizen journalism'? As a professional magazine editor, I've fielded numerous contributions from readers: comment, criticism, gossip, questions, opinion and more. Have the readers ever demanded payment for a name-check in the letters or technical help pages? Nope. One or two per issue may receive a prize gift for a star letter, but that's mine to give as I see fit. If they wish to use my organ as an outlet for their views or queries, perhaps I should be charging them.
Karl Foster, Ivybridge, England

Paying for those same photos would corrupt it, and that would be a real loss
Liz, Windsor, Colorado, USA
Paying readers for their photos would turn entire populations in paparazzi. Isn't the one we have bad enough? If people take and share photos for the love of it, paying for those same photos would corrupt it, and that would be a real loss.
Liz Bromstrup, Windsor, Colorado, USA

I don't think anyone in this country works for nothing, besides those who use their mobile phone to send pictures has to pay their bill. Therefore, they should be reimbursed for helping the journalists do their job.
Kingsley Maritz, United Kingdom

Go on, pay people for the images you use, that goes for weather images and competition winners which end up in BBC calendars etc. I grow increasingly uneasy with 'talent spotting by the BBC or is that 'getting work for free'? We pay for your work, so spread it around a bit and give something back.
Glyn, Bedford, UK

If I see something newsworthy and want to send it to the BBC I do so out of my own free will, if I want to sell it to the papers and make a mint, then I do so out of my own free will. It is not your job to make that decision for me, and long may it stay that way - please continue publishing readers' pictures and video. (Yes you have my permission to print this).
Owen Williams, Shipley, West Yorkshire

As there are many other global news gathering agencies who are willing to pay for newsworthy images, the answer must be to avoid supplying the BBC for free.
Ty Wheatcroft

Me, I don't get it. You pay your staff and freelance photographers, why not people who happen to be at the scene? If pixel quality is the issue, why do you even use the material? Nope, this is hypocritical and miserly. How incredibly gauche.
Erik Justus Paiewonsky, Oslo, Norway

How long before someone dies because an amateur mobile photographer chooses to take photos instead of helping? In my opinion the BBC should not encourage this.
Alex Neil, Glasgow, Scotland

Good on those folks that sent their pictures into the BBC so they could share their experience. I am getting very fed up with people who want to squeeze every penny out of everything that ever happens. It is about time we found more ways of putting things back into society, rather than greedily trying to squeeze an extra pound out of every one.
John, Gosport

If they want to make money from their photos there are plenty of news organisations that would pay
Payam Torabi, Epsom, UK
I agree with you completely about 'citizen journalists' not being paid by the BBC for their photos. After all, if they want to make money from their photos there are plenty of news organisations that would pay. The BBC, as a public organisation, provides an alternative for people who want to do a public service or who would feel guilty profiting from certain newsworthy incidents.
Payam Torabi, Epsom, UK

As a licence fee payer, I can't think of a better way of wasting taxpayer money. BBC, whatever you do don't even countenance the idea of paying for mobile phone pictures.
Chris, London, England

Financial gain from the pictures sent in by the public featured on the BBC website never even occurred to me, I naively thought that people were willingly exploiting our free media for the benefit of others, how foolish.
Dan Noake, Fareham, Hampshire

'Citizen journalists' should only make money from their pictures and stories if the media companies that use them make money from them. But journalists getting uptight about 'citizen journalists' is the same as a car mechanic getting uptight because 'ordinary people' are doing their own oil changes.
John Ferguson, Ballymena, UK

Most professional photographers would give everything to be in the wrong place at the right time, because the photographic opportunities are enormous. Just because an amateur has the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn't mean that they should be given copyright and due rewards for their work.
David Petie, North Wales

Citizens should be paid for the photos they submitted. We submit the photos because we would want to share what is happening. The BBC would otherwise have to pay the picture agency, which costs a lot of money. I do not understand why the BBC allow the picture agency to earn the money rather than allowing ordinary citizens to do so. The BBC seems to forget the citizens pay a licence fee to pay for the running of the organisation. Perhaps the BBC should rethink of their own policy.
Christina Spybey, London, UK



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