“Sharing” is a misused term that needs to die


“How Image Sharing Sites are Undermining Photography,” by photographer Tara Bradford, July 18, 2013


This could as easily be about infringement of images of paintings, sculpture, etc, or for that matter, poetry and writing.

This article was posted on a Facebook group this morning, and many artists I know, (myself included), are well acquainted with the author’s struggles to protect her copyrights.  Infringement really does cause damage. It’s not flattering and it’s not really free promotion. (If its unattributed the ‘free promotion’ excuse is especially stupid.)

People may not understand that an image IS a product. It can be used as illustration, advertising, to generate ad income, support causes, make greeting cards and other products like pillow covers, key chains, mousepads, reprints, knock off versions of the art from Chinese sweat shops, and more.  All without the artist or photographer being asked or paid.  It is no wonder that many are marking their images with a giant name and copyright notice now, even though that does mar the image. But it also mars it for many unauthorized uses that cost artists money and time.One of the biggest myths I’d like to see die, along with the misuse of the word ‘sharing,’ is the false belief that everything online is in the public domain.  It isn’t.  These people may be confusing ‘public place’ with ‘public domain,’ but either way it exhibits ignorance and a sense of entitlement that makes image owners clamp down.  The public domain applies to almost nothing online, despite increasing appearances of even search engines to make it easier to infringe than ever.

While on the topic of public domain: Beware of sites that offer images they claim are in the public domain; they may have been uploaded by infringers so anyone using them is subject to being accused of infringement, too. Problems with False Creative Commons Licenses: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2013/06/11/the-problem-with-false-creative-commons-licenses/


12 thoughts on ““Sharing” is a misused term that needs to die

  1. Funny enough I seem to be reading your blog as you are reading mine. Thanks for posting this, though it send shivers down my spine. Is there a solution to this??

    • Hopefully, real image protection technology will not be far off. I think most websites will have to use it, once it’s available, if they want to be competitive. ‘Orphan works’ legislation in the UK and US is going to make the problem worse, so I think the need and demand will be there for better image protection online. I do not yet have any faith in companies offering protection, tracking and even registration of images. They seem to rely on data for tracking that is too commonly removed when you or an infringer adds the image to a site. And, in the US, the only real registration is thru the US Copyright Office. I’ve seen a couple of these co’s called scams and I tend to agree.

      What can WE do to protect our stuff? A lot of people who didn’t want to mar their images with giant copyright notices or names are doing so. The work it takes to fix up those images for any use is more than most infringers can or will do. If even that is no longer enough to deter most of them, I will probably not put any art online anymore. I have already marked my images, but many with only a small mark are still out there as it takes months sometimes for them to turn up in reverse image searches. I’ve also cut my online portfolio by two-thirds, so there is just less to look after. I’ve removed search tags from my work, all kinds of things, basically undoing all the work I did 2 and 3 yrs ago to BE found. When I figure out what I really should do next, I’ll start over. Needless to say, all infringers are on my forever sh*t list.

      • Thank you, you are really opening my eyes for these things. I had no clue. Keep blogging about it, you are doing a lot of good.

  2. Can’t add anything…the article and your post say everything. It’s a horrible situation.

    Do you mind if I share this post on Twitter? I have only 7 followers (and I think maybe 3 of them aren’t real people) but maybe someone who need to read this will stumble across it. I won’t do anything until I hear from you.

  3. Oh, no! I didn’t mean for that graphic to show up! I’m sorry! I thought it would be just a link! Delete it if you don’t want it, Cindy.

    • It is fine! 🙂 Besides a copyright symbol isn’t copyrightable, unless perhaps it’s a really artistic image that incorporates it, which the above is not. I made it boring for that very reason. I just use it to alert readers that the post is about copyrights, it’s not ‘art.’ 🙂 But thank you so much for that, it’s very refreshing and sweet of you!

  4. Reblogged, thanks, so i am not the only one!

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