Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This is a rant, so skip down to the big letters if you want a little piece of happy
Recently while emailing back and forth with someone who had stolen one of my pics for multiple blogs and used them in a mean-spirited way, she wrote to me that she didn't notice Flickr's © All rights reserved on every single page, on every single photo. She claimed to be a professional who has a crystal clear understanding of copyright laws and has relatives who are professional photographers. She wrote that "most professional photographers" put additional copyright info in the "comments" section of the photo. I think she meant description, but whatever. What she meant was that some on Flickr will copy/paste a message at the top of every photo's description. Something along the lines of, "© All rights reserved. Don't use this image without my permission."
This "professional" stole many Flickr photos from photographers and posted them to her own blogs, with the excuse that she just didn't see Flickr's copyright information. Actually, a professional looks for the copyright info and unless they see a message declaring the image is free and clear for anyone to use, they don't touch it. Stating that "most professional photographers" post extra messages reinforcing their copyright has the snotty insinuation that anyone who doesn't plaster their images with warnings is
1. Not worthy of consideration because they don't fit your definition of professional.
2. Asking for their photos to be stolen.
If you want to connect yourself to an image enough to steal it and place it on multiple blogs of yours, it has value, even if its only value to you is how much you hate it. Especially when the blogs have ads or otherwise profit off of views. You have just turned the artist into not only a gainfully employed photographer, but also (in my case) a model who is working for you against her will. Where's my money? Where's the money those other Flickr photographers have unwittingly earned for you when you stole their work and posted it to your for-profit blogs to promote your business?
Whether or not you consider us "professionals" our work is still protected by copyright. Whether or not we watermark our images or post warnings in the descriptions, our images are protected by copyright. The © symbol is used because it is an internationally recognized symbol that this material is protected by copyright. It has the practical purpose of simplifying the message so everyone can understand it. For example, a copyright warning in the description of an image, how many languages should it be in? It's the worldwide web, after all. Viewers don't always understand English. Should we post warnings at the top of our photos' descriptions in every major language? Or should the languages spoken in remote villages be added too? They have internet access, you know. It's not just the U.S. who uses the internet. Flickr takes care of this for us, clearly marking each photo's page with the variety of copyright the photographer has selected for that photo.
Since we're on the subject, how many books have you seen with a watermark across the front? How about a book with copyright info on the cover? Usually it's inside the book. That information isn't placed on the cover because it's unnecessary and it interferes with the message the author was attempting to put out there.
I would also like to say that if you have swiped one of my images because you liked it and you used it in a well-intentioned way, I'm not going to come after you the way I do hateful people. However, if I see you have used my work in connection with anything mean-spirited, I will tell you to take it down and I won't have sympathy for your, "I didn't know any better," excuses. The appropriate response is to remove the stolen images (from EVERYONE) and never use an artist's work without permission again.
As far as watermarks and warnings in descriptions, on photos, in the tags or in the comments sections, I don't usually use them because I don't like them. Pure and simple. I actually have a watermark that I designed myself and I like the watermark itself, but I hate seeing it on my images because I find it to be distracting. I also hate putting © All rights reserved in the description or comments because it's sometimes off-putting to the viewer. Especially in the context of a lighthearted photo. Believe it or not, I prefer to be friendly to people until an individual person has proven themselves to be unworthy of it. And then I come after that person specifically. If you want to watermark your images and/or put copyright info elsewhere in connection with your photos then more power to you. I may join you soon.
If I could only perfect my drawing of psychedelic-rainbow-swirled winged unicorns in hearts performing mid-air 69, like some sort of mythical and slightly homosexual mile high yin yang symbol, then I might actually have more enthusiasm for watermarking my photos. Actually, no. Let's be real. Instead of watermarking my images with it I'd take it to a tattoo artist and have that sucker inked into my flesh. This idea belongs to me! Do not use it for anything, ever! Use your own damn creativity. Otherwise you're acting like an artistic charity case and trying to turn me into an unwilling donor to your cause. Fuckers. © All rights reserved 2009 by Dawn Harter aka Wisely Chosen.
See how that taints your experience of the moment? I don't want to have to put additional copyright notices on my work. It's a bummer. Plus it's unnecessary.
Also, I should mention that I really do love all the people whose intentions were pure, but their experience and knowledge were limited, or their enthusiasm devoured their common sense --- therefore they accidentally used my photos in an unlawful way. I am not angry with you. I'll still come after you, but I love you and you'll most likely have my blessing in keeping the image posted, after I make a few things clear so that it's understood why what you did was, technically, not OK ♥ Because while yes, I can be as fun as a barrel of monkeys and as mad as a hatter, I am serious about a few things.
*I've been drinking rum and consequently am in a much happier mood than normal. I will probably delete this post when I sober up.