What’s Mine Is Mine Unless I Share

March 1, 2014

Since writing this post I have been contacted by the photographer who asked me to remove it. I am also a photographer and feel copyright is an important issue. I wish Casey Keil every success. I do not wish to slander anyone or feel threatened because I expressed my opinion on the matter of how one photographer’s images wound up on another site. How it happened eludes me. If two professional photographers share a hard drive the files should be stored in separate directories. This is basic file management. If an administrator mistakenly posted works and attributed to the wrong person (as may be the case) I would hope the issue has been resolved. As written below in the original post, I spoke about screen grabs. That speculation was just that, a speculation how images can be grabbed from the screen and reposted somewhere else – I do not know what happened in the scenario that occurred between Keil and Falcetti. Again I hope this issue has been resolved.

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:

© Robert Falcetti

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?

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