Archive for April, 2014

A Word About Stealing Images

A bit over a year ago, I had a picture that got featured by Google, and to say it kind of took off would be an understatement. Typically, my shots on G+ garner around 1500 views, give or take. Some get a good bit more than that, but that’s about normal. This shot though, is currently well over 15,000,000 views, and still rising.

I recently got curious about the shot, and did a Google reverse image search for it. The results surprised me. The shot returned literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of results. Most of them, oddly enough, were of people who were using it as their profile photo on their YouTube accounts. There were also plenty of results for pretty-picture and wallpaper websites as well. Happily, what I didn’t find was anyone trying to use it to make money by some means (although I’m aware that many of those YouTube accounts are little more than click-bait). I don’t do this stuff for money, so I have no problem with people appropriating my shots for their own personal use, but someone misrepresenting it for their own personal gain would piss me off.

Here’s the thing, though. Every one of those people that are using my image, for whatever reason, are breaking the law (at least they were until today). I could, if I so chose, sue those people for copyright infringement. I don’t have to warn them, or give them a chance to remove it, or file a DMCA takedown notice. I could simply lawyer up and go after them. Could I win? Yes. Would I actually do it? Not likely. Could I get anything meaningful out of it even if I did? Almost assuredly not. But a simple fact remains; the existence of an image online does NOT give you the right to use it. To be sure, there are many, many images out there that are free to use, but not anywhere all, or even most, of them. And to take it a bit further; if you DO use an image whose provenance you are not sure of, you run a risk, small though it may be, of being sued. It doesn’t matter where you found the image, whether you give credit for it, whether you make money on it or not, or whether you take it down or not.

Recently there’s been a spate of people getting sued for just such a situation. Often, these are brought about by grievous abuse, such as people ripping off photographs wholesale and attempting to pass them off as their own, but in a few notable instances, it was for something as simple as what I described above. A person found an image online that they liked, put it own their own website, and ended up getting sued for it. And had to pay.

The reason I bring this all up is that I don’t want any of you to end up going through this. I’ve posted almost exclusively my own content on this site, but that wasn’t always the case. In days of old, I posted pictures I picked up all over the internet, just because I liked them. Back then, lawsuits were even less likely than they are now, so I was never in any real peril of being sued, but knowing what I know now, it just doesn’t make sense to tempt fate. In fact, there was exactly ONE image on this site that didn’t come from me (other than a couple I ran as banner ads on behalf of the owners), and that image has been gone for some time now. It’s just not worth it.

So, the moral of the story is this; if you want a pretty picture to post on Facebook or Tumblr or your blog, source it from somewhere where the images really are free. Don’t grab it randomly and hope nobody notices. Do your homework, and avoid the headache.

And just for the record, I now license all my images under the Creative Commons NC license, which means you can do with them what you will, as long as you don’t make any money off them. Have fun!

Hello Friends

Did you miss me? It seems crazy, but it’s been four months since I’ve posted, and eight months since I’ve posted regularly, and I’ve been missing my humble little abode on the web. That, along with the fact that the site is going to be celebrating it’s 20th birthday coming up soon, has given me the impetus to restart the engines and get things rolling here again.

All that being said, I’ve hardly been idle online. I slowed down for a few months last year, for various reasons, but I’ve been on Google+ with a vengeance for some time now, and I’ve been posting other places as well. I recently resurrected my Flickr account, which has pretty much been dormant since 2005. There’s also sporadic posting on 72dpi, 500px, the PotN forums, and Reddit. Shit, I even got a Facebook account, although I participate under a pseudonym that I don’t care to share here, which is really no big deal, since I use the account only to follow a local wildlife photography group, which is one that G+ is still sadly lacking.

Funny thing is though, I do the same damn thing on every site. I post pictures. And I look at and comment on other people’s pictures. And I thank other people for viewing and commenting on my own pictures. And I love all that. But one thing is consistently missed, and that is my thoughts. The reasoning and thought processes. The opinions and biases. The whats, wheres, whens, hows, and whys. On most sites, people don’t give a damn what you think, unless you’re someone who happens to have a skill or insight that others covet. Really, people are only interested in what you show them.

Which brings me back home again. Right here, to my humble little electronic cabin in the woods. I got shit to say. I got rants to rant, and raves to rave, and like I’ve always done, I’m going to say it here. So now that the engine is running, I’m ready to take off again, but I think things are going to be a bit different now. In short, there’s going to be more thoughts. Don’t worry though. There will be still pictures. I loves me some pictures. And since posts are always best with a picture to wash them down, here ya go…