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The ever present nightmare

  1. Not really a wordpress item, but it worries me to no end. I use lots of images. And we all know, Google is like Ali Baba's cave.
    I always to take care to insert artist's name into the jpg, if such data is available at the source, or insert it in the file name for mouse hovering. Any more excuses for, hm, borrowing someone else's visual creations? Yes, I don't use them for personal financial gain. My blog is HOBBY business. The way I feel it, is that I also offer an artist a bit of promotional backup.

    I write a lot about art. One can use photographs of statues and sculptures on the street and in parks (public domain after all) of artists that are long dead, but someone took that photograph, and owns his/hers copyright to it. In cases where bells start to ring in my head (news agency pictures), or where there is a explicit warning not to copy/paste, I send readers on by way of a link. By law they don't have to place that warning, the copyright is always valid, in every situation. But hey, it's no use to maintain a weblog with texts only.

    I never downloaded music or movies, I also don't upload YouTubes in my posts. Nevertheless, using jpgs is a form of copyright breach and thus stealing as well. I tried to take the legal road by mailing the artist/copyright holder to ask consent. If name & mail address are there on display, which often is not the case. Lots of images are multi-copied versions anyway. Most of the time the copyright holders don't even take the trouble to return your mail. As a consequence, I would have to abort the post.

    One can inform an artist of what you did, and simply wait for his protest and request to remove the image on the double. Some may be content with just that and an apology, but it's not always the end to it. Even if the image has been on your blog for just 15 minutes, even if you hide your whole weblog, or wipe it, legal action against you can be proceeded. The copyright owner, when finding you out, will make a screenshot of the theft. And don't try to save your hide by pointing at WP and Google as partners in crime, it won't work.

    I deleted two WordPress weblogs so far, in sheer panic. The fear of being sued. I'm not Croesus, just one allowance for compensation would damage me substantially. I know the figures, they can go up to thousands of euro's/dollars. Per image.

    What are your thoughts on this, WP customers? The best thing is to take your chances? And above all keep mum about it? Too late!)

    The blog I need help with is sgreifwonder.wordpress.com.

  2. My thoughts are that deleting two entire blogs when you haven't even received an email about the issue is overreacting.

    There are many sites on the web which offer images for free use, such as Picapp, which has a special deal with WP.

    As well, if you find something on the web, the LEAST you can do is to link to the page where you found it and, hopefully, to the ultimate original source. Putting the artist's name in the jpg filename is not really very useful.

    I've dealt with many photographers, and they don't normally seek to prevent you from using their images on a blog that does not make you money (although there are some who do, and you should just not use them). They DO insist, however, on teh link to their site.

  3. is overreacting

    Tell that to a judge...

    PicApp? Come on raincoaster. Tons of flicks of sunsets, partygoers and other 'Look, at me!' morons. I happen to collaborate with a political opinion blog that restricts the use of material to Photoshopper. An absolute drag when it comes to on-target illustrations. (Thank g*d for last-resort supplier Wikimedia)

    And how do I distinguish the Nasty Grumblers from the Easy Going fellahs? (painting millionaire Odd Nerdrum is a notorious case, and a total asshole on the side. More than a hundred Nerdrum thumbs in Google, and his 'secretary' denies me the use of three characteristic reproductions in an ODE to Mr Artist. One will understand that I no longer consider him one.

    But you have a point, I will make it a habit to include links each and every time.

    Actually, I was hoping for a few reactions from victimized internet criminals...

  4. Uh, Picapp actually has some of the best editorial photography around.

    If what you want is to form a support group or grumble thread, that belongs in Off Topic, not Support.

    How do you know who will let you use their images and who won't? You either ask or you just use them and when people wig out, you remove the images. If you remove the images, they won't likely pursue a court case.
    http://lolebrity.net/2010/02/27/mukmuk-joins-the-black-bloc/

    Counter-example, international photojournalist Bill Grimshaw:
    http://raincoaster.com/2006/09/20/arar-report-is-in/

    And http://onecoolsite.wordpress.com has several posts about where to get high-quality free-use images online. I mean, I'm assuming you know about Flickr and the visible copyright settings on every single image there, right?

  5. I'll check out your links tonight, thanks in advance.

    Do I smell a little irritation here, raincoaster? It wasn't my intention to bring that off. But although I initially wrote, 'not a real WP topic', I disagree to call this an Off Topic. There are these advertising and Adult Content issues on personals blogs where WP has a say in. Why would copyright infringement on visuals not be a Support matter?

    It seems to me that this is a matter that concerns almost every weblogger. But if you want to move it over to Off Topic, that's ok with me.

  6. The question of copyright is an important one. The collecting of horror stories, however, is not an appropriate role for the Support forum. If that is your intention, as you've stated, that belongs in Off Topic.

  7. sgreifwonder,

    How 'bout you take some photos of your own? Then you are the owner of the copyright and no problems... after all you know what sort of topics you might want to post in the future, do yourself a little photoshoot around these themes and post... guilt free :)

    ... just a thought.

  8. Of course. But not everyone's a photographer or illustrator, kiwidutch. And I don't trek around the world, or through the universe.

    I feel more criminal by the hour...

    Sorry, raincoaster. I just wanted to give an example of blogging dilemma's.

  9. Thank God, I only use pictures to illustrate my posts. To that end I can easily find stuff at wikimedia commons and places like that.

    I get that if you want to blog about a particular artist, you won't always find pictures in those 'safe' places. Which is obviously an dilemma. And I see only two options

    (a) Risk it. State the name, link back and hope for the best.
    (b) Be safe. Ask the artist/copyright holder and if you don't get an answer (or a negative one) then don't blog about it.

  10. blessingsallover
    Member

    Here is a section from the US Copyright page ... to make it clear I have it up on my blog ...
    “The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.”

    “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.”

  11. @sgreifwonder
    I have a Resources Page and in alphabetical order under images (free sources) you will find no less than 70 sources of free images for bloggers. Some require a link back and attribution and some do not. Read the terms of use on each site.
    Happy blogging! :)

  12. OOPS! I left a strong tag open above - sorry. :(

  13. thank you very much Timethief... this post drove me to your site. Very very interresting for people like me. Even if I don't understand every information/topic, I hope to be able to... later.

  14. Let it please be clear that his post is not an attempt at attentionwhoring. I can do better with my blogging time. But it deals with a complex internet subject for which WordPress is, in a broad way, a partner in crime, for allowing it. It's not an accusation, it's why I feel that this 'grumbling' post has a right to be posted.
    I'm grateful for the reactions. Timethief, thank you for the links, I'm going to delve into them (but tassiopee is right, your blog isn't an easy one...)

    It's a frustration. Thanks to original and controversal illustrations and photographs I'm able (with the help of the WP tool) to write logs of unusual and interesting (I hope) content. That's MY defence. The artist waves his/hers defence: 'my copyright'. I wish in the first place that artists would make clear when they object to copying, and when they don't. And let's not forget: they are the people who throw hands full of valuable goodies from a rooftop, go down, and say to the harvesting people in the street: 'You are stealing'. Quite right, of course. But sensible?

    It's not always so simple. I'm writing an extensive series on cover art for the so-called science fiction pulp magazines from the 1940s and 1950. The art is often amazing, the project incredibly fun to do. Now most artists are (long) dead, but there's still the problem of their heirs. One of the most famous SF illustrators Frank Kelly Freas has an estate. OK, one can contact the heirs for reproduction permission. But what about all the other fabulous artists? From many I couldn't trace their names (and believe me, I tried), or the editorials for which they worked no longer exist. Stilll my series would be next to nothing if they are not included.

    I feel that many artists don't mind. Digital Fantasy painters for instance, they are very proud of their work, like f.i. graffiti artists are. They put their work on internet for exposure, and any promo help they welcome.
    It's just the unhappy few that cause 'trouble'. They know very well that their Google references lure people, and they try to get money out of it.

    In The Netherlands, there operates a lawyer who has a staff working all day to retrace unauthorized image usages. The case where he forced a 12 year old soccer fan, using for his weblog a 30 years old photograph of a Dutch soccer legend, to pay thousands of euro's is quite notorious. The photo also included the boy's grandfather. The copyright owner of that photograph is an old, half senile man. Get the picture?
    The judge was not lenient, even though his verdict was not backed up by an iron hard law. Which means that another judge could have said, 'case dismissed, the boy didn't mean any harm, he removed the photograph from internet and I'm sure that you, Mr Photographer, won't be the poorer for the short time the picture was, um, mis-used.

    What would have to change in the first place, is this:
    An artist's sue should be awarded when his demand for removal of his work from internet is ignored.
    An artist can sue when the copyist's aim is for (proven) financial profit from someone else's work.

    It's basically simple, like taletellerin and especially blessingsallover state: don't squirm around it, there's a law. So play it safe. But it's also a fact that with strict, ho-hum, anti-piracy policies, internet would turn out an immensely drab and superficial place to dwell in.
    So it's basically about two dilemma's: the emotional one, and the businesslike one.

  15. I cannot determine what the technical support question is in this thread. Is there actually a request for technical assistance here? If so where is it found?

  16. "And we all know, Google is like Ali Baba's cave."

    Er. no, it's not. Almost everything there belongs to somebody - it's not a copyright-free PicknMix

  17. I didn't write that, ronsrealm. 'It's like'. As in comparison. Like some girls seem for grabs. They aren't. Unless they agree.

    timethief,
    I think it's quite technical. Does 'moral technique' exist? Well, move it over to Off Topic, then.

  18. Actually, may point was more: Take a stance. If you do it, if you continue blogging about art and photography then this is your decision. And wordpress is certainly no "partner in crime" in offering a free blogging plattform, just as copyright is no excuse but a right. Sorry to be hard on this but as somebody with half the families trying to make their living as artists, I feel pretty strongly about this one. Even though this right might sometimes be exploited, as you describe, to make money in not so nice ways but still - it is their work.

    To cut a long story short - especially since timethief might have a great point in this not being really a support thing?: Our content, our responsibility. So all the hard decisions are ours, too. Damn. :)

  19. =copyright is no excuse but a right=
    Of course.
    = I feel pretty strongly about this one.=
    Yes.But your next of kin put their work on their websites (I suppose) because it’s such a splendid promotional medium. But we're already living in a world where you cannot leave your front door wide open all day or lay down your wallet on a park bench and say, I'll come back for it later. There's a law that 'protects' our properties, but it's a POST-protection. So what we in general do, is protect ourselves extra against theft privately: with locks and burglar alarms.
    When artists use internet as a display window and think they don't have to put up glass in that window because there's a copyright law protecting the goodies, it's a bit haughty. It’s certainly not smart. I'm not rationalizing copyright breach, Taletellerin, but as an artist you have, in a practical sense, a responsibility too. By taking precautions (not all work, I know) artists may also save themselves lawyers.

    That's what I meant also with suggesting that WP is a partner in crime. WordPress is already more lenient towards weblog material of a more daring character than other providers. The risk is that WP will eventually be seen as an organisation that advocates Internet 'anarchism', stimulates immorality, etc. WP advises the use of PicApp but the policy is not to make it an obligation.

    Taletellerin, as an artist this may interest you. I contacted by mail about 70 creative artists so far. Six replied shrugging ‘fine with me, go ahead’.Three reacted cautious. Once they had seen my weblog, two gave their consent. When they saw the result, they informed me that they were quite pleased with it.
    The other 60 never answered my mails.

    I’m not ‘grumbling’, I’m frustrated. I’m an artist too, you know. I create with words and illustrations created by others.

    The basic fault lies with Internet, of course. The medium grew into outlaw town, and has become, after twenty years, outlaw metropolis. See the complex hassles going on and on over illegal downloading. Eventually these problems will be fixed, but as yet one has to do some protection oneself or help developing it. As a creative artist, make it easy for bloggers to contact you, don't ignore them or make them wait for months. Don't you think there is some fairness in this?

  20. Again, I totally understand your frustration. And now I also get what you mean with wp as partner in crime.

    I'm not sure I can agree with you on the responsibility of artists to protect their art from being 'stolen'. Copyright should be the glass of the window in my eyes. The only other option is watermarking but this visibly takes away from your art which kind of goes against the idea of using the internet as a display window.

    I guess, what it comes down to is this: While I absolutely respect your self-understanding as an artist (I don't consider myself to be one, btw), I don't think we as bloggers don't have a right to use copyrighted material as illustration or whatever. And I can only imagine how frustrating the process of trying to email or contact the artists is but still. No, I don't think artists need to be fair to us. It would be nice and also clever of them but no, not fair. Sorry.

  21. You're so right. The problem is of course also that there are far too few noble image thiefs like me...
    A watermark is indeed a bummer.

    I think all has been said about this subject. Shall I close this topic?

  22. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. I understand your point and also your perspective, but I simply can't agree with you.

  23. You didn't! I was just joking.

  24. Goodie. :) Hope you're having a great weekend.

  25. How would you feel if an artist or illustrator decided to take your entire post, because it complimented their piece of art?

    It's not the copyright owner's moral responsibility to assert his/her rights; it is the moral responsibility of other people to respect those rights. If in any doubt whatsoever, ask. Period. The fact that Google can show you things doesn't mean that you can take them any more than the fact that Tiffany displays jewels means you can take those.

  26. =How would you feel if an artist or illustrator decided to take your entire post, because it complimented their piece of art?=
    I would love it, I'm all for exposure. BUT. I want my name included. And there's never an excuse to use an 'anonymous', as I always copyright my texts. I pay others that respect as well- if they throw their things on internet without bothering to explain what or who, I draw conclusions: that their name was erased/cut off, that they feel safe under a protection system that spans a too broad field, or that they simply don't care.
    Now when they put their own name under my work, it's clearly a matter of plagiate or theft. I take that risk. Otherwise I would have to disconnect from internet and give my pc to the garbage collector.

    I know I put down a lot of writing here and our time is too valuable and our attention span too short to take it all in, but the dilemma of the asking aspect was included, raincoaster.
    What I basically want to make clear, is that I do have reasons to draw people's attention to this form of 'parasiting', and an artist knows he's never the worst for it. If I for a review use one still from a movie, will that harm DVD sales? Or a semi-professional painter trying to sell his work? It's actually the opposite. His income exists of real art lovers, who want to hang the original work on their walls, not a jpeg.
    But of course if an artist says Get lost, even I know it's a final.

    I basically restrict myself to 2000 years old fresco's and Renaissance paintings these days. Even that is a breach. The bloody PHOTOGRAPHS of these public domains. Can you take a cell phone picture of the Mona Lisa in Paris (and being the 6th million to do so), and sue me for using it? Yes. So something's not quite right, here. There is also the general right to quote from a text, and to use a DETAIL from an illustration... The second one makes little sense.

    What should be changed in these copyright laws, is to make claims for damage impossible when it concerns use of a protected image in a weblog or a post that no longer exists. Or one that immediately got removed on request of the artist. Such claims are usually based on a screenshot, or a residing thumb in Google for prove. One judge will agree that's unfair, another one says: pay up.

    Sorry for nagging on, I'm just trying to get out of this mess. And you know? I DO care about artists and their works. Otherwise I wouldn't have a weblog at all. Period.

  27. It's not the copyright owner's moral responsibility to assert his/her rights; it is the moral responsibility of other people to respect those rights.
    Thank you, raincoaster. That's exactly what I meant to say when my English deserted me.

    Also, it is not only about damage in terms of money being lost. It is also damage in terms of the artist's public image and credibility which is to be protected. Because what if it is not an earnest blog wanting to honor the artist, but a sleezy sex page that uses the image as background image? Where would you draw the line? Bottom-line: It needs to be the artist's decision in which context his or her art can be published.
    I know this is not a black/white thing but for me that is part of copyright. And an important part, too.

  28. =Bottom-line: It needs to be the artist's decision in which context his or her art can be published.=
    You're absolutely right. I can have the best intentions, but still my, um, collaboration with the artist may not be to his liking.

    There's only one safe way. Articles with illustrations exclusively from artists dead since 1840. As one has to add 80 years of post-mortum copyright, everything after 1920 is definitely taboo.
    I've got a lot of travelling to do! To photograph the Chinese Wall, the Sistine Chapel, the Amazone, Mars and the Andromeda Nebula.

    OK, the message is clear, I know now where I stand... Thanks for reacting, I really appreciated it.

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