I consider myself a reactionary person. I can cry at a moment’s notice. Every Friday at 8:25 a.m. NPR airs StoryCorps and as if on cue, the weight of world finds itself traveling down my cheek in the shape and feel of a wet teardrop.
It’s one thing to hear a stranger’s story and feel an emotional pull – from a ‘being human’ perspective. It’s quite another experience to hear a colleague’s complaint of finding his work lifted by another, and feel outright outrage.
Being a professional photographer today is much harder than pre-digital days. A common misconception leads most to think otherwise. Film costs have absolutely disappeared and shooting hundreds of images has become relatively cost efficient with an initial investment of an 8-16 gigabyte film card.
Photographers have always had to be aware of licensing and copyright. A basis for any business is to price the product for the use, and that relationship is paramount to any professional service. The internet has provided a bigger audience for all media and while that serves to promote one’s work, it’s no secret that overzealous social networks can work against the very nature of ownership and rights to original content.
Digital versions of print editions of newspapers and magazines are what many publications are doing to sustain their businesses. That’s nothing new. Readership, is the end goal as is advertising dollars. When online sites become prey to ‘lifting’ images via screen grabs or when written content grabbing occurs without attribution, the line gets crossed between sharing and stealing.
Robert Falcetti found his photograph on Casey Keil’s site. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the original image belongs to Falcetti as shown in the photographer’s Photoshelter site. To see the images that were illegally claimed by Keil – click on the link to Facebook thread.
The image below appears on KCK Images site:
While I haven’t had the unpleasant experience of being so blatantly ripped off, I have had some of my own Facebook images turn up as gifts to others without even so much as a nod to me, the owner.
Lesson learned – Facebook is a social platform intentionally made for the purpose of sharing. If you, the owner of images do not want to share access to high quality files, don’t upload directly to Facebook. Post to secondary sites where you can control download permissions such as Flickr, Photoshelter, Smugmug, etc.
I suspect what happened to Falcetti cannot be avoided completely. Every computer whether MacIntosh or PC, has screen grab functionality. Because web viewing doesn’t require large resolutions, screen capture is easy enough to do and reproduce for similar presentation. The captured file wouldn’t be suitable for quality reproduction, but that is a small consolation when you see you image falsely claimed by another.
Sharing should be somewhat guarded in the age of digital reproduction. What measures do you take as a photographer, writer, artist or originator of any creative works, to ensure attribution, licensing and payment?