I was just reviewing Tod Seelie’s blog SuckaPants and read his thoughts and difficulty with image theft on the internet:
I don’t typically use this blog for personal rants, but I’m going to break that rule. The wonderful world of the internet and flickr has given rise to a huge amount of readily available images. As online self-publishing grows, so does the need for content, such as snazzy imagery. Most people have come to the understanding that if you are going to lift someone’s image, and not ask permission, you provide a credit and a link to the creator. This avoids pissing off the person you are “borrowing” from by promoting them, and in most people’s minds doesn’t constitute stealing if you provide credit.
However, then there are apparent jerks like Jamie O’Shea who not only repeatedly use people’s images without credit, but will actually go to the effort to capture a non-downloadable image and then crop out someone’s watermark to remove the credit put there by the artist (in this case, mine). That’s not just being careless or lazy, that’s actually making a conscious effort to obscure the artist’s identity from their work. That’s stealing. Of course if people didn’t steal images, who would need to put their name on their photo in the first place? One would think that as the previous editor of Juxtapoz he would have a bit more respect for artists. Especially if this person said something like, “Everything is artist driven. I work as a liaison and advocate for artists in corporate culture.”
Between this sort of crap and the looming Orphan Works bill, I am really wondering about continuing to put so much of my work out in the public realm. Once someone grabs an unmarked image off of a website and posts it to their own without credit, and then someone grabs it off of that site and posts it to a forum somewhere, etc… it’s too late. Toss in the loss of the original file name due to blog-hosting renaming procedure and the image quickly becomes an orphan. So even if an interested party did want to license the image (and not just automatically claim to have already made a “reasonably diligent search” before using it without permission) it really does become difficult at this point to track down the origin. And as a friend of mine put it to me while we were talking about making a living as an artist and selling prints: “Why would I buy one of your photographs when I can get them for free on your site?” Good question.
I have asked Mr. O’Shea several times (sorta nicely) that the image be removed from his site, no response. Comments left by friends have been moderated into limbo. So I offer this to the court of public opinion: Is it okay to remove a watermark from an image you grabbed without requesting permission and then use it on your website?
It’s ok to rant Tod!