Week 10 – Copyright Again

…. & maybe a way forward.

This week’s lesson contained information on something that has been a concern for me since the internet began, copyright & protection of my images on line.

The article by Sarah Ann Loreth (Re: If You Don’t Want Your Photos Stolen, Don’t Post Them on the Internet) is very interesting & takes a different perspective on the subject.

My personal rule from the day I started taking photos was that if someone asked me for a copy of a photo for their personal use, I would take it as a compliment & give them the photo for free. Many of my friends have my photos on their walls, some, are even huge murals. I jokingly say that their houses are my photo galleries. All they had to do was to ask.

If someone wanted to use my image for any commercial purpose, (even though I make a good living in my real career,) I was pleased to try to accommodate their requirements but I would not give images away for free, I required reasonable remuneration, which would vary accordingly with the images’ use, distribution etc.

Is this greed on my part?

I specialized in underwater photography & during my days of film photography, my niche market was deep wreck & cave photography. I sold many photos & photo/articles because I had a monopoly in Australia & overseas of real, quality images in this genre.

This type of photography was dangerous & taking unique photos in these deep, dark places required special photographic techniques (some of which I developed & are now in common use), assistance from very skill diving buddies & money. Cost of cameras, lenses, underwater housings, underwater strobes, specialized diving equipment, diving gas, travel to remote locations by plane, boat & land vehicles, accommodation, film purchase & processing, etc. (even the etc was expensive).

Most people/companies I dealt with were professional, book publishers, slide libraries, magazine photo editors, but some were not. Commonly dive shops, dive expos, travel expos, travel agencies, newspapers, dive gear manufacturers would ask for the photographs for free. They said “it would give me exposure”, I was already well established, that was why they wanted my photos!!… “They didn’t have the budget for photos”…….but the graphic artist & printer would both be paid!!!!

I have never walked into a dive shop & asked for free air fills or items of dive gear…….& would have rightly been thrown out if I did. I have never asked a travel agent for a free trip overseas or even offered them images in exchange for a trip overseas, I paid for my own trips so I had no obligation to them, if they wanted the images they could buy them from me on my return. This I found worked, a clean professional approach.

This was at a time when social media did not exist, my images were safe in filing cabinets in my darkroom, only vulnerable to burglars who visited personally & fire, if the house burned down.

As Sarah Ann Loreth named her article “If you don’t want your photos stolen, don’t post them on the internet”. She is right, this is the only way now, not to have your images stolen. There has been a generational mind set change, fueled by Social Media, that what is on the internet is there, free for all to take, the laws/rights of copyright are ignored by individuals, in Social Media provider contracts & even changed by governments to favour the large corporations. See my earlier journal entry https://utaspsm.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/copyright-of-images-on-social-media/

I find all this & my attitude very negative, & I am not normally a negative person, yet Sarah’s article was written in a positive vein, pointing out the pit-falls but noting the positives of the use of Social Media outweighing the negatives. Mike Kelley’s great photo & story is also inspiring showing the great people reaching power of Social Media & the life changing benefits which, if correctly managed can flow. However, his story became a little concerning when he told the reason he believed his image went viral was because it was not watermarked & it was high res. These two qualities, he believes, are very appealing to people using Social Media, as they give a better viewer experience. I totally agree that it does give a better viewer experience & if that is where the viewers’ experience stopped, there would be no problems but these qualities also make the image much more appealing to steal.

I need to find a way to balance my feelings about losing images & showing my images to those who are interested in seeing them. I need to have control. Initially to put images on Flickr, Instagram, Facebook etc. takes away my control legally with the contract which is agreed to in starting an account with these companies, so I will not proceed with these Social Media outlets. My way around this, is to create my own blog/website & to show my images here. In this way I am not agreeing to their conditions of copyright or use but I am not getting the exposure that they may provide. The images I do publish will be copyrighted in the metadata & watermarked to at least show ownership. I may or may not use Google Reverse Image Search…..I am not sure that I do want to know where my images are being used.

I am not being greedy, I don’t want to sell my images, I don’t want anyone to use my images, I only want people to look at them & view them for what they are………me enjoying life & sharing the experience with them but not the image.






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