Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I got dumped on by a fellow kayak blogger the other day for using one of his photos in my piece applauding the work of an Australian kayak maker who's using solar power in his factory. The photo looked like a cute family snapshot so I didn't think anyone would mind it being used. I was wrong. Mea culpa!
The subsequent discussion on his blog makes it clear that the issue of copyright is not as well defined in people's minds as it might be. It's also clear that the concept of copyright has failed to keep up with the internet and the way people have chosen to use it. It's become a bit like the 'wild west of yore' where one needs to be savvy if you don't wish to be victimized by people doing what I did. It's the reason why most professional photographers wishing to protect their work and receive due credit for it use dedicated, protected sites where they retain all their rights and ownership. The average person, like you and me don't bother. Instead, we use photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picassa to store our photos online. These sites often claim ownership of our photos and many users do not realize this. We sometimes feel flattered or annoyed when our photos appear elsewhere on the net. Who owns what on the internet and how it can be used is far from clear to the average user. The wide-spread copying and using of other people's photos puts one in an up-hill battle against users living all over the world living in a variety of conflicting jurisdictions.
Does that make me less guilty? No, of course not. I used another person's photo without giving them proper credit. When contacted about it, I offered to give him due credit. I didn't get a reply to that statement. Instead I got dumped on publicly on his blog. I don't mind being corrected when I make an error and I don't mind correcting my errors if I can. It was a useful wake-up call, but unfortunately it won't really help my fellow blogger retain ownership of his photos.