Enter a post title here, also upload a background image

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.
http://blog.aditto.info/2009/02/14/231-of-phantom-sweet-cigarettes-and-ravalgaon/

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:
http://blog.aditto.info/disclaimer/

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.

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5 thoughts on “Enter a post title here, also upload a background image

  1. You do know that Phantom cigarettes violated a trademarked image and name of Lee Falk’s phantom to promote sugar cigarettes? The violation is even more absurd because the Phantom explicitly does not smoke or drink (even in jest). I found it interesting that a T-shirt was made of this, and that no one really objects to this trademark violation in the first place.

  2. Here’s the thing– for a general person using a picture as their background image or cover photo, there’s never an issue with giving credit..as long as it’s not a hassle to go searching for the original upload and dig up who the real owner of the image is. It should become a common practice to give credit for a picture that is being used– and especially when you use it on a group where you know thousands of people will see it, you definitely should find out who the owner is. But the truth is, for someone not using it for any kind of promotion, it IS too much work and yes, people are generally lazy about stuff on the internet as long as it doesn’t affect them in “real life” (there is too much content on the internet to care much about everything/anything). It is difficult to imagine what the owner of the picture must’ve gone thru to create a work which I admire so much…which I can relate to in such an awesome way that I want to share it with my friends to show what I like and what I don’t like… it’s always about ME. It’s always been.

    Removing watermark from an image is pretty criminal. But I think for a civilized society, watermarks are the best way to ensure a picture gets its due credit. Bc by nature of the internet, it is difficult to track down the original upload…and real journalists (or anyone who wants to use it to make a statement for profit) should make the effort of tracking down the owner and buying stuff, but the internet has really just opened up a bigger platform for unaccounted (illegal) economic activity that already used to be carried out on the streets (tax-evasion).

    Lastly, it’s true that when I use a picture i don’t know the origin of, I am doing a disservice to the owner of the image…but it’s also true that graphics are everything that make the internet beautiful today. By sharing a picture on my facebook cover, I am also giving them free publicity in my circle (only if I give the picture credit but haven’t paid for it otherwise) — and the potential of my network that many businesses would pay for, this artist is getting solely due to the awesomeness of their work and bc I choose to promote them bc it makes me happy to do so. Doesn’t cost me anything, but it does tax the attention of my circle — and it may reap benefit to the owner of that content if any of my friends choose to follow up into other works of this artist.

    I can’t sit here and solve this problem of monetizing merchandise on the internet (of course it’s a big issue– when i can get something for free, I am not going to pay for it.) If you follow some marketing ideas these days (like Seth Godin), the only way to do it is to create a tribe that WANTS to pay for your work. Bc they want to support your work and want you to do more of it. Giving out some stuff for free — so your work floats on the internet and creates demand — and charging for other stuff which people might want to buy is the only way that can work in the digital space. But you will have to make it easy for someone to buy it! If I see a great photo which I can’t use bc I can’t get it in good quality to make my cover photo, I’m just gonna go to another picture or no picture. But if I fall in love with that picture and I can pay say 50 cents for it and get it, I will, on the spot — like iTunes! I think all photography sites should have this set up.

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/12/how-to-protect-your-ideas-in-the-digital-age.html

    This is not the most relevant blog I am thinking of when I mention Seth Godin, but I’m being too lazy to dig any further and find it :p (as mentioned earlier, that’s the general behavior on the internet!) But Seth Godin has quite a few posts and ebooks on the new age commerce.

    1. Hi Prachi :)

      Thanks for patiently going through this post, and giving your feedback.

      You deserve to get a proper reply, but I just wanted to check if you have read the Creative Commons license I’ve put up right at the top of my blog. Here it is:
      http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/in/

      As long as people download and use my images on their desktop computers as wallpapers or whatever, I am fine. The moment it goes on a social media network that has hundreds of millions of people on it, I get skeptical.

      Most people do not even understand the privacy features and settings available on Facebook.

      I am fine as long as I get the credit for my work, and that the person who adapts or shares it, shares it with a similar license.

      I am yet to explore a simple way to let my followers purchase my images, with a simple click of a button. Having said that, I have started offering photos from my photography page for free downloads and sharing or uploading as Cover Photos/Wallpapers (but even that should not happen without due credit).

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