Hello friend. How have you been? I saw you uploaded an awesome photograph of a lonely girl standing on a pristine beach with white sands and blue waters, with arms wide open! You look so pretty! Oh, and I saw your Twitter profile, wow those bangles in the background photo look amazing! Sad, we don’t see them much in the markets these days. Where did you get to buy them? And who took that picture?
You ‘liked’ that picture of the Phantom Sweet Cigarettes, doing rounds of ‘sharing’ on Facebook, didn’t you? Looks like you are an active member of this group called “Proud to be an Indian”. What fun it was smoking virtual rings of those sweet Phantom Cigarettes, scaring shit out of the elders. Cool yeah, long lost memories, good to have them refreshed.
Oh by the way, did you know that that image was actually created by me, from one of my photographs? Yeah, I searched high and low all over Pune to find those Phantoms. Eventually I had to mail the CEO of Harnik Sweets, Mr Gautam Harnik, asking him where I could find them. Here, you can read more about that story and also see the photograph on my original blog post. Go ahead, feel free.
Okay. Did you see that same photograph? Here it is again in case you felt too lazy to go and read the blog (I know you must be lazy, clicking “Like” and “Share” is easier than right-clicking on a link and reading it in another tab while you are at something else).
What I actually want you to see is that fine script at the bottom right end of the photo. You see that? It states that I hold the copyright for this image. Also, the disclaimer on my blog prohibits you from picking stuff without attributing it to me. Here is the link for that:
Essentially, you have violated my copyright by using my content, without attributing it to me. Worse, you even went one step ahead by cropping out the copyright line from the image. Well, you did not of course do it. Someone really smart must have done it, someone who knows how to use image editing tools too! You just promoted it further, you just shared it with an even larger audience. You just hit the “Like” and the “Share” buttons on Facebook. Simple for you, no? Not for me.
This is really trivial. It is a photograph that represents sweet memories of my childhood. But not just mine, it represents memories of millions of you, who are almost my age, who have lived during the times of the Phantom Sweet Cigarettes. I would be more than happy to share this with you, share the photo, share the stories, whatever you wish. I am happy to see that my photograph makes you happy.
Unfortunately, the story does not end there, I am pretty sure it won’t. This is not about sharing memories, this is about lifting content, without attribution or permission. I do not even get a link back to my blog, not even a ‘Thank You’ note. Some days later, the same FB group would have millions of followers/members and maybe even advertisers. The same FB group could use content uploaded on its page as its own for any kind of activity – marketing, political unrest movement, stalking people, anything – I am scared to even think of this. Content created by me or thousands of bloggers like me who use original content, gets shared across thousands of social media networks, groups and forums. Passing on links to the original content is acceptable, downloading and uploading as your own is not!
I also do a little bit of photography in my spare time. I make sure that I upload images with copyright information / watermarks only. However, I do not use tactics such as putting a huge watermark that covers 75% of the image. I think that really reduces the quality of my images and the appeal they carry. But I do expect you to respect the fact that I own the content I create – the photos I take and upload on my blog, the articles I write here, and anything I put on Facebook and Twitter. To think of it, Facebook and Twitter are turning out to be massive problems for people concerned about safety and copyrights. I never know when the photo I clicked of my beautiful friend will be downloaded from my photography page by a stupid girl only to upload it back as her own profile picture! People like you are shameless enough to put beautiful photographs as your cover photos on Facebook or background images on Twitter. Yes, websites like Pintrest scare me. It makes me wonder if the price of information and content on the internet is really zero!
A lot of bloggers are up in arms against this free lifting of content from our blogs. Read stuff that the Idea-Smithy has written on similar issues http://ideasmithy.wordpress.com/?s=copyright .
It is sad to know of such practices. Show some creativity guys, show some maturity. Show some decency to acknowledge the fact that you do not own the content you have uploaded. This does not go out only to you, but all the news reporters, and editors, and wannabe media people – You CANNOT lift images from someone’s blog or Facebook page to use it in a story or campaign of your own, without permission, or attribution and at times without paying a royalty.
Even as I publish this blog post, I am aware that there could be some content on my blog that is not created by me, for which I have failed to provide attribution. I am going through all my blog posts to check for those and make this blog a cleaner place.