Someone tried to school me in the difference between verbal/written expression and visual expression today, and I feel like I am a much better man for it. Yes, I have grown today, if not professionally or… physiologiclaly, maybe spiritually. It’s good to know that there are still brilliant, polite, thoughtful people out there who value the power of making positive connections and understand the importance of being cordial, positive, and friendly when reaching out to complete strangers.
So I was asked to remove an image from an earlier post this morning. The request came via an email threatening to take legal action against me. Ha.
Yes, good morning to you too. I am doing great, thank you. Would you like some toast with your tea?
Interesting thing, this blogging business. We’re so used to cutting and pasting people’s opinions that borrowing other people’s intellectual property has become almost a non-event: Find a passage you like or think is relevant, copy it, paste it, write a blog post around it, give the author credit and link back to his/her blog/book/website so readers can go there and find more good stuff, and voila. Finito.
If you’re a true web 2.0 rennaissance man, you even send them a note to ask permission to use their words, but that is seldom done these days. Credit given and a link are usually all that is required. (Still, most of us do this with images even when we don’t with text out of some sense of duty or jurisprudence.)
To date, I have not received an angry email from a blogger or author threatening me with a lawsuit because I quoted them on my blog, and for good reason.
As a photographer, I understand the potential cash value of images. You can take a photograph and sell it. you own copyrights to it – or can share it with others at will. It’s a slippery business, but ultimately, someone owns every image that has ever been printed – very much like every written word can become someone’s property.
The reality of it is that both photographs and prose are modes of expression. Both are protected by copyright provisions. Some people use words while others use images to express themselves, but the only difference is in the medium, not in the level of legal protection. Those of us who write for a living value our written work the way a photographer values their visual work. The medium may change, but the principle is the same.
Yet here we are: Someone actually threatened to take legal action against me for having quoted them visually on the Brandbuilder. How sad.
I promptly removed the image (which wasn’t that great to begin with) along with all associated credits and hyperlinks – and will replace it with another when I get a chance. Not because I am afraid of getting dragged into court, but because I have no want to give someone so stupid and arrogant any kind of exposure whatsoever. You don’t want to be featured on this blog, I won’t argue with you. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
What is funny about this whole little tangent is that a simple email politely asking me to remove the image would have sufficed. It would have still been silly, but whatever. At least the author wouldn’t have acted like a rude little child. My email asking for permission to use her image was not rude at all, as I recall.
I have to wonder… would being polite really have killed her?
So anyway, to the young lady who sent me that threatening email this morning, I have this to say: If you don’t want exposure, if you want people to discover your work, fine. Stick to submitting your stuff to any of the dozens of stock photo outfits that might be interested in buying it for mere pennies. (Not that they have, incidentally, since the email didn’t come from them.) Knock yourself out. But then don’t post your images on flickr and make them public. Jackass. And when someone asks for your permission to use an image, reply with a simple “no” if you don’t want them to.
That being said, it is indeed your image, and you have every right to control how it is used and by whom. If you don’t want me to borrow it for a post and direct people to more of your work, that is your right. I won’t stand here and argue with you. It’s your life. Have at it.
One thing you probably should know before I close this little monologue is this: Not only are you a crappy photographer who got lucky with one image, you’re also rude, and a complete moron.
End of post.
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