© 2023 88.9 KETR
Header Image 10-22.png
Public Radio for Northeast Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
88.9 FM broadcast antenna upgrades are underway and will affect the ability to tune into the station for the duration. Our programming continues, however, via our live stream at ketr.org, on TuneIn radio, via the NPR app, and at Apple Music.

Photojournalist Pays It Forward After Earning Thousands In Copyright Fees


Our next guest is a photographer who, for decades, has been telling stories from all over the world - Rwanda, Iraq, Kosovo, Somalia. Yunghi Kim has won many awards for her photojournalism. In the last five years, she's also spent a lot of time trying to keep track of how her photos are being misused. She recently recovered about $10,000 in fees for unauthorized use for her work, and she announced last week that she's giving it away - 10 $1,000 grants to fellow freelance photojournalists. And she joins us now from our studios in New York. Yunghi Kim, welcome to the show.


MCEVERS: I want to talk about one of the early times that you discovered that your work was being misused. You did something called a reverse Google search on one of your images. Can you first explain what that is?

KIM: Three or four years ago, I did Google reverse image search, where you upload an image into a browser and it shows you all the pages where that possible image ended up. And I was shocked to see pages and pages of it. I had an oh-my-God moment.

MCEVERS: What was the image?

KIM: It was an image from war in Kosovo from 1999. It's a picture of a boy photographed from the back, looking at a fire in a distant horizon. It was also being misused because it was being used as - image as Palestinian refugee camp. Unauthorized use and misuse of images are a huge headache for photojournalists because, you know, we tell visual stories in the context of history. And we want our work used in a responsible way.

MCEVERS: Right 'cause as a photojournalist, of course, you want your images to be seen all over the world. But this one was being used for commercial purposes as well and being taken out of context?

KIM: Well, you want the images to use - seen all over the world but in context of legal licensing because photographers are small business people, so they're - they have to be compensated. So that's one aspect of it. But using it for another propaganda is a huge problem too.

MCEVERS: And this money that you are giving away - I mean, someone could say a thousand dollars isn't that much. But actually, to a freelance photographer, that can be really big money, right?

KIM: Well, you know, all I can do is that I'm protecting my work. I'm happy that if five photographers register their work, got this message through this grant. I feel good about that. And I feel good about giving back to an industry that I've been part of for 32 years. If I can reward photographer in an age where everybody wants photographs for free or photographers to work for free, I'm happy to reward photographers in my own small way.

MCEVERS: That's photojournalist Yunghi Kim. Her many honors include three World Press Photo awards. She has recovered $10,000 for unauthorized use of her work and is giving it away to other freelance photojournalists. Thank you so much.

KIM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.