Photography, Copyright Infringement, Pirating, The Internet
The High –
Mid-week I was emailed by a woman from Canada. She asked if she could use a Baltimore oriole photo (shown above) I had posted two years ago at my photo-blog, SilverLining-MaryMcAvoy. She wanted to use the photo in a children’s summer camp education program about bird nests. I was thrilled she’d found my photo-blog, a blog I stopped posting to in 2012 after moving away from the subject of the blog, which is a small pond in New England.
Of course I googled the site of the program she said she was representing and was assured that her interest in my photo was legitimate.
A similar request was made of me about six weeks ago. Interestingly, it was also a request for use of my Baltimore oriole images, this time at an educational tourist site in Ohio. Again, this was for a non-profit. So, again, I sent my photos in full resolution with no charge.
Both women followed the internet code of ethics by asking my permission to use the copyrighted photos. I happily gave permission and sent the requested high resolution photos – free of charge. I also offered additional and related photos.
One of the extra photos I sent to the woman in Canada is a male Baltimore oriole removing a “fecal sac” from the nest that contains his hatchlings. The image is below. I was fascinated by this bird activity and by the tidiness of nature – that hatchlings poop in neat, little sacs that the parent can pluck from the nest intact – like a biodegradable diaper – and remove from the nest. (The quality of this image is not great. The oriole nest is designed to sway in summer breezes, and it does, causing many of my 300 mm handheld shots to be a bit shaky.)
The Low –
Before sending the image to the woman I decided I’d better restudy about fecal sacs so that I could inform her with accurate knowledge. So, I googled the topic to refresh my memory.
I used the contact information shown on this flickr page (an enterprise called “infoway” that builds websites and, it seems, uses photos like mine in their work) and requested that “infoway dot us” immediately remove my photo from use. A response came within 24 hours assuring me that the photo would be taken down promptly. And on Monday I was again contacted confirming that the image had been removed. I’ve checked and it has been. I’m grateful for their quick action.
The initial reply from infoway included an explanation that the image had been used only for “promotional” purposes, not “commercial” purposes. I wrote back saying that to use my copyrighted photo for promotional purposes that benefit infoway is commercial use.
Quite on purpose I’m not linking to infoway or the Bryan Adams flickr site in this post. I certainly don’t want to reward bad behavior by linking back to them and upping their SEO ranking. But please go have a look at the thousands of images they have on this flickr site. I’m guessing a good percentage of the images are pirated from photographers who have no idea of this use of their photographs. You’ll find the flickr site if you google this string of terms: bryan adams flickr infoway. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the right place if you see this (unless they change it in the meantime):
I guess that all photographers should take the time to periodically google their own image names to see if their images have been lifted to another site.
I reduce the size of nearly all of the images I put on the internet to minimize the likelihood that they will be reproduced. I imagine that all photographers know to do that. I guess the lesson here is that our low resolution photos can still be edited into a usable image for the purposes of others.
I suppose I should start to watermark all of my photos before uploading them. The thing about doing that is that in order to keep the watermark from interfering with the impact of the image, we all tend to put our watermark along an edge. It’s so easy to crop out the mark. So, I’m not sure that’s much protection.
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