I stumbled upon this fantastic guest post on Tim’s 4HWW blog. I love this quote. It strongly resonated with me. Most of us, if not all of us, have never let go of this mentality, that has been drilled in to our brain for thousands of years by evolution and mother nature.
We all try to avoid and minimize threat, but as we all know – threat is (and has always been) inevitable. So is it really worth playing it safe?
Win Mentoring from Reid Hoffman, Chairman of LinkedIn
This logic is ingrained in our brain: It’s more costly to miss the sign of a threat than to miss the sign of opportunity.
As economy changes and world become harsher, threat is becoming vital part of the trade, perhaps more than ever. What risks are you willing to take in order to survive and prosper in this decade? Taking on a lower salary job that will broaden your horizons? Moving to a different country? Letting go of a corporate job and following your passion?
I tried all of these (and avoided many others), and what I learned is worth so much more than the money I (have not) made. More also, had I not taken these risks, I might have not been standing where I am right now.
So what risks are you willing to take? How did the risk you already took pay off?
Sorry I didn’t publish anything for a while. While working on my next post last Friday, my plans took quite a turn. This post tells the story. Nothing about copyright infringement today, hope you’re not disappointed.
Story starts here
It was Friday at noon. I enter the house and mutter to Julie, my girlfriend: “Do you smell smoke? I think someone is having a BBQ under our window!”. I get so irritated that I storm outside, ready to yell at whoever was stinking my house up. The smell is too strong for a barbecue. I look around.
Smoke. Lots of smoke.
“Julie, It ain’t no Barbie! I shout through the door. It looks like a conflagration!”. I see huge clouds of smoke just over the hill outside my house.
While trying to decide if we should call 911, a firefighter plane goes above our heads. “Well, I guess they already know”, we agree.
I go back in, and get my camera. By the time I get outside, the wind changes its direction. Smoke scatters. Instead of cool shots of smokey sky, I take nice macros of some scenery.
Once I was done with the camera, I went back in, closed the windows and switched the air conditioner to circulate indoor air instead of its default outdoor settings. Nothing else required, all taken care of, right? I sat down to work on my next post, as I promised here.
A phone call
Just as I was getting some momentum going, my cell phone rang. It was my dad, who lives ten minutes walk away.
“Strange”, I thought. Dad always sleeps between 2:00 and 4:00 pm on a Friday, (which is like a Saturday anywhere but Israel). Why is he calling?
“Hi dad, I’m kinda in the middle of something” – I answer the call. “Did you hear? We are ordered to evacuate immediately. Open the door and you’ll hear the firefighters calling”.
I open the door. Siren comes and goes. Then another one, and another one. A fire truck, a police car, and another police car. Then I hear them calling on their megaphones:
“All citizens must evacuate their houses immediately“.
This was not a drill, or a joke. They where dead serious, and spot-on. Minutes later, while I was standing outside my house, staring at the ever-growing number of police cars and firetrucks, I started coughing. The smoke was becoming very thick.
You have five minutes to evacuate your home
I went inside. My phone beeped. SMS message from the emergency services – “All citizens must evacuate their houses, with no exemptions. The local council has sent a bus to take all people who don’t have a car”. Oh my god. This is for real.
What do you take with you, when you have no idea if the house will burn down and what will remain?
Julie and I take out me little trolley. We throw in our iPads, laptops and cameras. Something’s missing. “Clothes!” Julie says, and we throw in some underwear and some tops. “Passports! IDs!” I shout back. That’s it, we take another glimpse, I snap my iPod and key chain, and we’re out the door.
Julie starts the car. “Where to?” she asks. “Out of here!” I answer.
Pedal to the metal
We leave the Kibbutz and drive up north. Go through a smokey cloud. And another one seconds later. We realize it’s a huge conflagration and wonder what’s gonna happen, and if our home will survive. It’s surrounding it from three different directions at the same time.
We decide to stop debating about what we left behind, as what’s done is done. We stop to eat something, and settle in a friend’s house, waiting for news to come.
Rumors, that’s all we have. One channel says the firefighters got it under control. Another reporter on a second channel says it’s completely out of control and there is a serious danger that all of the village houses will be burned down to ashes. We open the web browser at our friend’s place, and check out for news.
“All roads leading to and from the area are closed”.
Getting better information
I call the radio station I used to work for. “Hey, do you need someone to operate the news desk? I’m close to the studio and don’t mind to pop in and help”.
The station usually broadcasts recorded shows on Friday and Saturday. But now, many people might be looking desperately for some news while driving their car away from their (soon to be) burning houses.
And from another angle – if I operate the news desk, I get access to people who actually know what’s going on. The beauty of journalism, right? Sadly, they already have someone on standby, and I am left with the rumors.
Time goes by, so slowly
An hour passes, then another one. My parents only got two kilometers away before the roads were closed down. They’re with my grandpa, standing in a traffic junction seeing it all in action. My grandpa, a holocaust survivor, being urged again out of his house, with no time to pack without a clue if he will have a house to come back to. It’s painful for me to even try to imagine what goes through his mind.
At 5:45 PM the phone rings. It’s the radio station’s manager. “Can you get to the studio by 6:00?” she asks, and I answer with no hesitation. I rush Julie and Chloe (our dog) to the car and off we go.
First think I do when I arrive is to call the spokesman of the fire dept. “There is no longer any danger of the fire reaching the houses”. Phew. Breath in, breath out. I can calm down a bit.
We were back home as the night fell. We could still see roaring fire, and at 2am one fire truck was still at work, tens of meters away from the house.The fire kept on burning during Saturday, Sunday, Monday and even Tuesday dawn.
At the end of the day, the house was saved. None of the houses in our Kibbutz (read: village) suffered major damage. The conflagration was brought to a halt just about 50-100 meters away of our home. Same goes for my parent’s house, just 200-300 meters away from theirs.
Everything smells now like one big cigarette, and everything outside is covered with soot. Most of the trees and flowers are gone, and the ground has basically become coal.
Still, it could have been so much worse! Yes, I lost a day or two worth of work, and had some cleaning to do, but that’s nothing compared to losing the house or god forbid having anyone injured.
Still, going through this experience, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you were in my position. What would you pack if you had only five minutes to evacuate your home? How would you handle it?
As you know, few days ago I’ve published a post on the subject of copyright infringement of photos on the web, and how to avoid getting sued by photo agencies such as Getty Images (the original post is here).
Now, a good guy named Will Edwards has stumbled upon my post and wrote his own piece about the subject. Not only it makes a good read, which you can find at “Images Copyright and ‘Getty-ing’ Sued” (I LOVE his title!), but also includes some important points that I neglected in my original post – mainly on the subject of model, minor and property releases.
Adult, minor and property releases
First, this is what Will had to say:
“If you were to take a picture of a person and then use that picture commercially, you could be in legal trouble if you did not gain the permission of the subject of the photograph.”
The permission Will is referring to is known as a release. The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) explains why you need the subject of your photo to sign a release:
“A release is a written agreement between you and the person you are photographing, or the person who owns the property you are photographing. The purpose of the release is to protect you from any future lawsuits the person might file for claims such as defamation and invasion of privacy.”
The rights of the subject of a photo are protected not only under rights of privacy, but in some states also under the right of publicity – meaning:
“The right to control how his fame can be exploited for commercial purposes. Unlike rights of privacy, which die with the persons to whom they belong, rights of publicity survive their owners and can be passed along for generations”
Why is this important? Well, as Will says on his blog – if you take a photo of someone, although you own the photo, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can legally use it.
So taking your own photos, a strategy mentioned on my original post by several commenters (LOVE YOU GUYS!), is not bullet-proof either. Make sure you have a signed release form for your photos – when needed (again, I’m not a lawyer and don’t plan to become one!)
ASMP kindly offer release templates on their website, including adult, minor, property releases and more. Those are available here, but perhaps you should also read their introductory article first – “What’s In A Release (The Language Of Law)“.
The subject of model releases (either adults or minors) is quite obvious. A more surprising type of release that many people are unaware of is property releases.
“if you took a photograph of a building and used it, you could again end up in legal trouble.”
And that applies to dogs, cats and other people’s mice too! This is a very tricky subject, as put by ASMP:
“The whole subject of property releases is filled with urban legend, assumption and myth, along with a bit of actual law.”
“Life is full with shades of grey”, said one of the comments on the previous post. And that is specifically true when tackling property releases.
Generally, properties don’t have privacy or publicity rights. Still, if a property is strongly linked to an individual or a company, they could claim that a photo of their property is much like a photo of themselves (OK, this is over simplified lingo, but you get the deal!).
As an example, if you take a photo of the Trump Tower, and feature it in a blog post about drug addicts, he could very well claim that it’s a defamation of character, and file a lawsuit the next morning.
To make a long story short:
If you use your own photos on your blog, make sure they don’t require a release or make sure you get them all signed.
If you use photos from public domain websites or Creative Commons collections, remember that many photographers (mainly amateurs and semi-professional) aren’t aware of the need for a release – or don’t bother.
This means that although you’re using a licensed photo, you can still get into trouble (DAMN! :()
Almost all photo agencies show the photo’s releases on their website – if any were required. This is actually quite an advantage for stock photography.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use public domain or Creative Commons collections. But if you specifically need a photo of a model, a child or a famous building (like the Trump Tower…), then you’re probably better off with stock photography for that specific case (unless you take a photo of yourself or your own kids, dogs, or mice) 😉