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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Friday May 21 2010

Incoming:

Hi Brian,

I work for a non-profit called Community Health Charities of Illinois www.healthcharities.org/illinois. We are putting an event together and came across your picture on Google and just love it. Is it possible for us to use your picture for the event that we are planning? Our theme is “bridging” the gap between employees and health charities. When you have a moment please let me know your thoughts and feel free to call me if that is easier for you. Again it is a beautiful picture and thank you for your time.

Kelsey DeAngelis

Here’s the picture in question:

image

But, it isn’t my picture.  As I often do here, I used someone else’s picture.  I, as it were, merely borrowed it.  Fully acknowledging the actual photographer, and linking to the original on Flickr, but, I readily concede, without having asked the permission of “spudart”, the photographer in question.  For some, that failure to ask permission, but just to go ahead and show it here was crossing some kind of line.  For me the line that matters would have been crossed had I in any way suggested that I had myself taken this picture.  Me taking unearned credit for this picture would have crossed the line.  Me now allowing Community Health Charities of Illinois to think that I rather than spudart had taken this picture would be crossing that line again.

If spudart resents me borrowing his picture like this, then I will take it down.  Take it down twice, now.  But why would spudart object?  Community Health Charities of Illinois only encountered this picture because I borrowed it.  They searched for Chicago bridge pictures with Google, but not on Flickr.  If spudart wants to be known as a great photographer, of the bridges of the city of Chicago and of lots of other things, then I helped, and am happy to have done so.  (Also: miaow, miaow and again miaow, making this another Feline Friday.)

And oh look, I’ve just (re)noticed that spudart commented on that original posting, thus:

Thanks for linking to one of my photos. I’ve been meaning to do a complete series of the bridges in Chicago. This is certainly one of my favorites.

So clearly the above excellent photo will remain here.  Twice.

As my friend Perry de Havilland often likes to say: one man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing.

It was never ‘theft’—at worst it was illegal violation of gov’t intellectual monopoly.

The sin of stealing is based, not on you gaining something without paying, but because you are taking something away from another.  Copying, and thus reducing the market value price others might be willing to pay, is not taking the photo away from him.

Yes, it’s a reduction in the market value (because of abundance); it’s a reduction in the first order market based incentive to work on getting the pictures.  But it’s a big boon to the poor world.

Cheers,
Tom

Posted by Tom Grey on 24 May 2010

Hi there! It’s fun reading about this debate. Especially since I’m part of it. It’s fun reading about “what would the owner of the photos think,” when i’m the owner. ha. It’s like an out-of-body experience or something.

I’m totally with Brian Micklethwait. I very much like it when people post my photos WITH the credit. As Michael points out, it helps my photos to be found.

I also work in the syndication business for Tribune Media Services, where we handle the distribution of content. Now that’s a little different ballgame, and I’m by no means representing the viewpoints of my employer, only myself. But I could see how some people might be irked if content is used without permission. But in my humble opinion, that’s old school industry thought. What rules in today’s industry is developing your brand and trying to get as many people to recognize your work. Having blogs post my photos is a superb way of getting my photography out there. Not only does it expose it to more people by having it seen by people who read this blog, it also enhances the SEO rankings of my photos.

Now that being all said when attribution is given. That’s really the key. The photo must link back, and also have a text link too. I’ve seen many places just take photos with no attribution.

I love tumblr for its quick sharing attributes, an image can totally go viral so easily via tumblr. But it’s also a mixed bag. Sometimes attribution is given, sometimes it’s not.

One small thing to consider too, is if you use someone’s photos is to give them a heads up. “Hey, I really liked your photo and I hope it’s ok that i’m using in this blog post.” I personally love to hear when people link to my photos. It’s a nice compliment, and it’s great distribution for me too. A win-win. Plus, by sending a simple email, you get to have a little bit of a connection with another person. The blogger gets to know the photographer a bit more. And vice versa with the photographer getting enjoyment out of knowing that is work is linked elsewhere.

For now I’m happy to see the referral links in my flickr logs and see where some of my photos are being used. That’s how I found this one here.

Posted by spudart on 09 December 2010

Oh I should also note, when it’s a for-profit company that would be using my photos, then yeah, then I consider charging for usage. I do it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes I let the for-profits use it simply with attribution. Sometimes I charge a fee for usage and let them use it specifically for that one situation. (sometimes people think when you let them use an image for something, that they can go hog wild and post it greeting cards, letter head, brochures, etc). While I’m of the mindset that exposure is a great benefit to me, it’s also nice when for-profit companies are able to help give me some payment.

So what i’m explaining is all rather gray.

Posted by spudart on 09 December 2010
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