Fair Content

Fair Content
What if the greatest assets we own are the stories we live?

Stories educate, entertain, inspire, spread hope, share wisdom, help us learn about the world in which we live. Stories have the capacity to generate or increase income when they take the form of products, communications, and/or marketing tools and campaigns for individuals, organizations, and businesses. As such, stories (delivered in a myriad of physical forms including photographs, essays, articles, books, marketing campaigns, and advertisements) are valuable assets.

Often, due to complex inequalities of wealth and power, storytellers, writers, photographers, filmmakers, nonprofit organizations, corporations, publishers, and others benefit financially by sharing stories without fairly compensating or providing editorial input to the individuals who have lived the stories they portray. Ironically, this may be especially true in telling stories related to issues of social justice, social change, and social innovation, and in situations where content providers live in material poverty or in marginalized communities. While in many cases, stories and imagery may be used in ways that benefit content providers, too frequently these stories are told in ways that evoke pity, exploit or denigrate their subjects, manipulate audiences, perpetuate negative stereotypes, and convey an implicit sense of inequality.

Fair Content is a movement and collaborative effort to encourage creative communicators, non-profit organizations, corporations, and publishers to provide fair compensation and editorial input to their subjects. Supporters of Fair Content believe people who share personal stories about their own lives have the right to determine how, to whom, and for what purposes their stories may be shared; to validate that their stories are portrayed in an honest and authentic way; and, particularly when their stories are shared in ways that generate income, to receive fair payment, not as a form of charity, but as compensation for a valuable asset. FairContent.org is an initiative of Epic Change that was inspired and conceived by the contributions of Stacey Monk and Sanjay Patel of Epic Change, Jen Lemen of Hopeful World, and Samuel Suraphel of Beta Bahil, all in the United States, and Lucy Kamptoni of Shepherds Schools in Arusha, Tanzania. Fair Content was featured in Lens on Life, an instructional manual for documentary photographers by Stephanie Calabrese Roberts.
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