Amateur Footage: A Global Study of User-Generated Content

Reasons for Crediting

Some of the people we interviewed were incredibly passionate about the need for crediting, and expressed surprise that it was even an issue. As one senior manager at an online news website in Asia exclaimed, “If we didn’t credit, we would get crucified.” Certainly the law in almost all jurisdictions in which we interviewed people requires permission be sought, and if content is used, requires that it be credited if the owner so wishes. However, this legal requirement was rarely raised in any interviews. Many people did recognize, however, that most uploaders simply want attribution. One manager explained, “More people want attribution than they want paying. So many big problems could go away [if we credited properly].” Others displayed confusion about why crediting uploaders was so different from the way their own journalists would receive a byline. “People have to be credited, just like we credit our own sources, and our own journalists, and our own programs.” Most notable was recognition from a few people that the issue of crediting is more than simply a legal or ethical one. It plays an important role in signaling to the audience that journalists take UGC seriously. As one editor explained: I find it very helpful to be crediting UGC because we want to encourage people to send us stuff. You have really got to make [uploaders] feel like they’re being paid back, otherwise they’re not going to come back to you. In the end, I think it’s going to get very competitive and I think you’ll have a choice about where you’re going to send your stuff. So rather than thinking you’re lucky your content is being shown on [a global broadcaster], it will be, “Who do I have a relationship with?” I think organizations need to be quite careful now.