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Making money from citizen paparazzi snaps

Yahoo’s choice of Mr Paparazzi as the best UK entertainment website in its 2006 Finds awards suggests there is a way to make money out of “citizen journalism” or whatever you choose to call it.

The site is a spin-off from the Big Pictures business of Darryn Lyons who got a lot of free publicity from the BBC’s Pararazzi documentary series. The neat money-making touch is to offer would-be celeb snappers a “where are the hot subjects” text message service. They promise to send not more than 20 updates at 25p each in a week.

That adds up to £260 a year which might just be better business than actually flogging the pix.

The changing headline on the home page urges visitors to, “Make loads of money from your celebrity snaps.” A rotating gallery of pictures are flashed “sold for” at sums ranging from £8,000 to £200.

Pictures can be submitted direct from mobile phones or by email. There is a warning: “REMEMBER, YOU AGREE AND UNDERTAKE THAT YOU WILL NOT SUBMIT TO US ANY MEDIA THAT ABUSES OR INVADES ANOTHER PERSON’S PRIVACY, CAUSES ANNOYANCE, INCONVENIENCE OR NEEDLESS ANXIETY, IS UNLAWFUL OR WHICH GIVES RISE TO CIVIL OR CRIMINAL LIABILITY OR IS OBSCENE, OFFENSIVE, HATEFUL OR INFLAMMATORY IN ANY WAY.”

There is a sister site in the US but that does not offer the mobile phone service.

According to a report in The British Journal of Photography when Mr Paparazzi was launched in April last year, those who submit pictures that are sold can expect 50% of the earnings.

It is legal and it is encouraging many more people to be involved in journalism. So why do I find this concept distasteful? Probably because I am a po-faced grumpy old man who finds Civil Engineer more engaging than Heat.

And there is a worry that more people with camera phones harassing celebs will eventually lead to more restrictive privacy laws which will make it harder to do the stories that I think matter.

There are seven category winners in the Yahoo awards and visitors to the site are being asked to vote for “The People’s Choice” from a list which also includes the short-listed sites.

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  1. picturephoning.com: Make money, become citizen paparazzi says

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