Monday, October 21, 2013

return of the copyrights and wrongs...

Have you all noticed that I've started watermarking (some of) my images again lately?

I'm a happy sharing person who hates to see fuggly watermarks all over photos... (I hates it I tell you!) but the continuing lack of awareness about copyright and the 'dos and don'ts' of sharing on the interwebs along with the rise and rise of pinterest and the reblog generation has forced my hand somewhat.

In truth I have no dramas with folk who would like to share my bits.... (I've said all this and more before when I adopted a CC license for my blogs) .... but the inability of folk to link and credit correctly means that many of my arty bits are bobbing around the interweb sea like orphaned flotsam and jetsam.... plonking my watermark on the image at least gives them a chance to find their way home...

The effectiveness and importance of using a watermark was made clear to me earlier this year when I picked up the phone to answer an inquiry from a festival organiser in Belgium -- they had stumbled over this image (that has been doing laps around the internits for years now)

Bless the little Belgians they tracked me down through my watermark. The result? I gave permission for Het Groene Boek (which translates to 'the green book') to use part of the image for a day of talks and debates about books and the sharing of ideas relating to creating a more socially and ecological world... the image appeared online and in their printed matter (correctly credited in the catalogue and other places thank you) .. everyone was happy.

Now lets revisit pinterest land shall we....  hilariously I saw this on pinterest recently --

one sweet person decided to take it upon themselves to double watermark my (already watermarked) image just to be sure that it was attributed correctly.... what a hoot eh? (but of course the image is still not hyperlinked to the original site..... sigh)

ahhhh yes pinterest (sigh) and reblog platforms - here is what I see happening all the time -- even when a piccie of mine is shared with a correct credit (thank you for taking the time) .... links are often non-existent, broken, or linked to other pinterest sites in a maze that never leaves the pinterest universe, or worse  --- many times I've seen unscrupulous folk take over the linking to use it for advertising, driving traffic to alternate sites or more nefarious purposes.... mmmmmm welcome to the first reblogging circle of hell (check out this -- yup - its a 'pinned' image of my book 'serpent' - make sure you click the image of my work and watch what happens...) here's another 'pinned' image of my work -- again credited correctly under the image - thank you.... but linked to ???? (indeedy one part of the link whizzes you off to a fb business page... of the pinterest account holder ... of course!) oh and here at looooong last is one that links to the correct source (can I get a small hallelujah!)

but what happens when links are lost in the ether?.... welllllll folk assume that an image is free for the taking (looksee here at that book path of mine again... this sort of uncredited, unlinked, unauthorised, non-compensated image usage is rampant)


sometimes the pin-repin-multi-pin thingy goes on and on forever... (but rarely linking to the original creator - who is, in pinterest eyes anyway, pretty irrelevant really)


This week I was chatting with local blogging ladies and again lamented the state of the (pinterest) universe (which I'd note currently mirrors the arty world - with its rise and rise of the curator as creative demi-god).... one gal-pal quietly (she is well aware of my scorn for pinterest) declared her love for the platform and was slightly bewildered as to why creative folk wouldn't be equally enamoured  - why wouldn't an artist be thrilled to have their images shared around the web? (linked or not, credited or not) isn't it all about exposure? and isn't that all good?

ummmmmmmm no. no it's not - if the work isn't correctly credited and linked then its simply a parasitic action of the reblogger linking themselves (clothing themselves) in another person's creative output. (sorry for the hard words *insert smiley face here and dispense sweet treats to all the folk whose toes I've just trodden on* )

I don't want you to think that I believe creativity happens in a vacuum - that inspiration (and sharing and building on others work etc.) isn't valuable and necessary and happening all around us all the time. Nor am I wanting to put a lid on the Very Good Bits about sharing and communal knowledge building (no no no indeedy!) I simply think that there IS a distinct difference between creating and curating (or collecting).  Reblog platforms (like pinterest) encourage passive collecting over active creating so that the cultural high point becomes regurgitation (mmmm delish). With the current 'take down' policy of pinterest the onus for operating ethically and fairly is placed on the copyright owner who is expected to discover then chase up every copyright infringement  -- rather than on ensuring that the pinner has permission to use every image BEFORE they pin it so proudly to their boards.

So I like to ask folk -- who gains and who loses on pinterest? I would suggest that for the pinterest collector it's a boon... for the pinned creator... not so much so... think about it this way --- how would you feel if someone waltzed into your kitchen (uninvited, unannounced) helped themselves to a slice of that cake you'd just baked and iced so prettily and were saving for the kidlet's birthday party, then they had a look through your cupboards and photographed the bits they liked, shared this with the world.... all without your knowledge or consent.... feeling a little violated? pissed off? wellllll that's kinda the sensation you get when you stumble over your work uncredited, unlinked, incorrectly attributed, printed on a card series for a greeting card company in russia, being used to sell toilet paper in korea or to drive traffic to dodgy web sites.... thanks pinterest - I owe you one!

ps - I was heartened/surprised/bewitched by what happened in social media land this week after this blog post ..... look at how viral this post went! its everywhere! name and shame a thief -become an internits sensation! maybe folk DO understand that theft and plagarism are wrong (and there's no such thing as 'a little bit pregnant'.....)?

ahhhh well - that's my copyright/pinterest whine for this season...

how about you? what do you think about reblogging? copyright? pinterest? online sharing? watermarking images? (ps I won't bite your head off if you are a pinterest lover!)



  1. I couldn't agree more.

    There does seem to be a perception amongst some folks that creative work just flows naturaly from some talent you were born with (with no concept of the hard work,time and often resources that go into making the work) and you should be so pleased that people want to see/hear/use it that it should be available to be used unattributed, for free and for whatever purpose

  2. Wow.....that Cody Foster story is a great warning to artists. I will investigate watermarking.

  3. Larry Vienneau has started an image copyright hall of shame
    after discovering so many of his images are being used illegally. He has listed some very useful strategies.
    I tried starting a Pinterest board for images that had lost their provenance a couple of years ago in the hope of tracking down the original artists. "Inspirational" slide shows have been circulating the net for years now with "borrowed" images so I try to track down the original artists and let the friends who shared their work know too. (BTW I have been de-friended for this "arrogant" attitude)
    Yes watermarking really helps and as artists we of course own copyright of our work but this online sharing is becoming a problem with everyone having to spend so much time making sure the art is not abused.

    1. its ever so wearisome don't you think? sigh.

  4. have to admit the whole thing brings on a great sense of weariness...i should probably watermark but then everything loses that sense of spontaneity for me. sigh.

  5. Ah yes, "copyright". Sigh. But you'll be pleased to hear that BookRiot at least has comment telling the world where to find your work! :-)

    1. *sigh and sigh again.... but what's this about bookriot?


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx