That song you are currently playing on your generic MP3 player, you paid for it correct? Or at least i hope you did. Music piracy has been going on, and has tried to be stopped since the days of tape cassettes. Come on we all did it as kids, mates Michael Jackson's "Bad" original on one side, blank copy on the other HIT RECORD. Or maybe you were one of those like me sat next to Top of the Pops and recorded the song off the tele while trying to hush the family sat behind you so you don't get any external noise on the recording....... classic. Well, technically that was piracy. Personally i buy my MP3's, and the ones i don't are given away from the artist as freebies because contrary to popular opinion musicians tend to make bugger all off their music and i like to support the artist that created the music i enjoy.
Which brings us to photography. Theres been a trend recently and for the working photographer its not a fun one. That trend is ripping images of the web and passing them off as your own OR even using them for promotional usage without consent/payment. The most high profile cases of late:
- Guy takes a photographers image, changes the colouring, submits it to a BMW competition and wins a laptop. FINALLY BMW pulled the winning image although reluctant to do so. Source
- Someone takes a photograph, flips it, adds a filter and wins a Samsung competition. Thankfully this time Samsung act quickly and pull winning image. Source
Sadly thats not where it stops. I am forever seeing photographers on Twitter tweeting companies for misuse of an image, stealing images and using them in calendars without permission/payment, heck even today while browsing Fstoppers this happened:
And that was by a photographer-who should know better!
I got burnt once, just a little bit and that was enough for me to come off Flickr and i have seen too many cases which (wrongly or rightly) makes me not trust it. As it is i post only to 500px, the lowest res images i can get away with, if i Tweet it is now a screen grab, same goes for Facebook. Over the top? I dont know, maybe. Although even doing all that a couple of months ago i had someone tweet me a copy of an image, off my website saying how much they liked it, hardly the biggest crime and i didn't say anything but the question of "have they removed it and put it on their desktop/printed it etc?" ran through my mind. So what can we do? Water mark everything, big horrible, ugly water marks destroying the works aesthetics, yep, maybe. Or alter all your meta data on every image posted, AND water mark it. Damn, should we really have to be doing this though?
It is discussion that has been floating around the photography forums for a while now with no clear answer.
Sadly, i think most people now think that if its online its free, well, its not. Photographers have worked hard to create those images, often schlepping around for years making next to nothing because its their passion and when they finally get a career out of it we now have to deal with people ripping them off. Just like that musician you are currently listening to while reading this, thats their art, their struggle, their joy, this is ours....respect the work behind it and If you want it pay for it.