Blogging, posting and sharing is a tricky business, only getting more complicated as the days go by. New sites to explore content and ways to share original work are slowly being added. The rules are being written as we go and it’s largely new frontier for all. There’s nothing like seeing your work validated by being posted and credited, linked to, etc… and the same sentiment is true for the opposite feeling when you see your work stolen and posted either as someone else’s or without any reference to you.
- The accessibility of digital photography has changed everyone’s view on the subject. Those wishing to pursue a photography career can do so more easily, and those consuming the work share it more readily. We want to look through, share, and update what we look like, do, think… and we often we do so with images. I’m not against sharing – I went to kindergarten too – but I do think that we all would benefit from giving credit when credit is due. I love that Cally + Dave were featured in Rent the Runway’s February newsletter, but I don’t like that the site gives no image credit at all. While most reputable publications seek out those involved to make sure they agree to have their work published (aka licensed + model release included in the case of people are in the photograph) the internet can be like the wild west some times. Here are some thoughts on the matter, and I’d love to hear your input or perspective.
1. Make it clear how you feel about sharing.
In any industry where you make your living off of creating, you want people to see you work but you also want to get credit for it. Non-commercial sharing on sites like facebook or pinterest it’s generally sufficient to mention of the creator and link to their work. When I send out the image permission form with finished work to my clients I do so under a Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 which basically allows them to use the images in any way they see fit for personal use. So no, they can’t sell or license the images, allow someone to use them to promote a product or be entered in a contest – but they can print as they like and share with family and friends. Thankfully I have great clients who are respectful of image posting and do their best to have a link or reference somewhere to me when they put my images online, and are happy to tell inquiring minds who took their wedding pictures. If someone wants to use work commercially that’s a different story, involving licensing and model releases when people are involved.
2. Be respectful of other people’s work.
If you are working with other professionals, figure out before hand if you will be supplying images that are commercially licensed or under a creative commons type agreement. That will answer many questions that could arise in the future should you wish to share the work. If you are re-posting something (even on pinterest) I’m sure all those involved would love a credit in the image description, or a shout out to where the image was found. While pinterest is another can of worms, a general rule of thumb is to give credit where credit is due. Also, never try to alter or edit a watermark that someone has place on a image. If they put it on there, respect that fact that they want it to be there – and contact them if you are interested in using work without the mark.
3. Look out for each other.
There are some pretty bad cases of image theft in which case the first step is to send a cease & desist. Most of the time, these images are discovered by someone who is kind enough to notify the original creator of the work. I always appreciate when someone sends a quick note to say where they saw my work – especially if it is not linked to. With google analytics you can see a lot of what’s going on when someone links to you but work that is used without permission is obviously harder to find. If you really want to check in to where and image is at (or your are looking for an original source), use the site TinEye to find all uses of an image, original and altered!
I think what it really comes down to is communicating and being respectful of other people’s work when you are sharing online. I love being inspired, sharing work and enjoying all that this vast internet has to offer, but I need to be reminded every once in a while that behind all of that inspiration are a lot of people who worked very hard. So this time I’m going to sit in the theater until the end of the credits.