Ask the VR Photography Experts
Q: Since our company began producing VR photography, we have had a number of unpleasant experiences with other VR companies (our competitors). These include:
What can we do to avoid these, and to reduce the number of fake inquiries that we respond to?
A: Perhaps the best way to avoid these pitfalls (and yes, they happen to most pros) is to qualify all those phone and e-mail requests before responding to them with any detail.
In my office, we regularly receive e-mails and phone calls like this recent one:
I send out a response along the following lines. If they are serious clients, they will provide the answers I need in order to do an accurate estimate. If they are not, they don't respond and I don't do anything further on their request. This accomplishes two things -- the first is that it weeds out the non-serious clients while qualifying the others, and the second is that it provides me with the very minimum information I need in order to start on an estimate or explore a contractual relationship with a potential new client.
A flag always goes up in my mind if the query comes from a yahoo.com, hotmail or other free/anonymous e-mail hosting service. Most reputable client correspondence comes from a corporate or more permanent address. Similarly, you can tell a lot about a potential client by the way their phone gets answered when you call them back.
FYI, the above individual never responded to my e-mail, so they never received any further information from me.
You can ask the same sorts of questions in a phone conversation. If the person on the other end of the line "hems and haws" over the answers, or doesn't really seem to know what they are wanting, you simply tell them to get back to you with answers when they are ready. If they're serious about working with you, they will. If they're not, you won't waste your time any further.
As far as others using your work without your permission, that's generally a copyright violation, which in the U.S. can carry penalties of up to $150,000 per infringement. If you are vigilant and aggressive in pursuing such violations, only fools and idiots will continue to steal your work. The first steps are to send cease and desist notices to the infringers, along with an invoice for the unlicensed use of your work. Then, contact their ISPs or web hosting companies, and inform them that they are hosting a site that is violating your copyrights. Most reputable ISPs will investigate and quickly shut down the offending site. Beyond that, you can decide whether you want to pursue legal action against the infringers or not.
- Scott Highton