the ethics of photoblogging

everybody knows that there isn’t a true way to protect your photos on the web after you post them. any viewer could rip the picture off and keep it on their computer for their own personal use, and this is very easy to do because a) the picture is already on their computer when they are viewing the website and b) the user can permanantly keep the image with one click. two clicks if the image is “protected” by embedded flash or quicktime or whatever.
so what do you do? i have that copyright at the bottom of every page. it’s at the bottom on top of the secret button. take a look — it’s there. i showed that copyright to a message board service provider earlier in the year after someone had been posting my images on their message board without permission and they yoinked the whole thread because of the copyright notice.. which compels me to think that the whole copyright thing actually works (and is respected.) well that’s jim darn dandy!
something i understand, though, is that i am putting images in a position to be ripped off. it’s kind of like putting jewellery downtown for everyone to see in the middle of a busy square, and then going home and coming back later, hoping everyone’s respected the sign that says “this bling belongs to davin! look, touch, but do not gank!”
so is it realistic to expect everyone to?
probably not.
in february, google referred over a thousand image searches to this site. i have no way of knowing if images were ripped off for evil use or good use. evil use would be for-profit (ie: using a full image on a poster without licencing it), good use would be not-for-profit (ie: computer wallpaper/desktop image).
now i am really not that worried about it, otherwise i wouldn’t be posting any images at all. my photography is mediocre at best. but i do know of several amateur graphic designers that will take any image they can find on google and use it because they don’t think they will get caught, and because they don’t think the photographers deserve credit because there are so many photos out there. i am not worried about any of my photos showing up on, for example, a sony billboard, because a big company like that hires real marketers who hire real designers who licence professional photography or have access to the good stuff in general. those designers also know about copywriting, credits, etc. so there isn’t a real big problem, just a slew of small ones.
does that sound better? no.. not really. but this has been 5 minutes and i am done for now. bye!

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  1. You might want to consider using a Creative Commons Licence and post the link in a conspicuous place. You can tailor the licence to whatever you want. I think people are more apt to give you credit when using your photos if your copyright/licence notice says that they are allowed to if not for profit. That way it’s totally legal and they don’t have to worry. It’s also nice to be able to allow others to use your work for personal projects.

  2. hey that’s a great idea julie! thank you for passing that on. i notice that on your site you have one of those.
    ps: i got a card from you in the mail today. thank you! 🙂

  3. i’ve had this debate many times with designer friends. many people think it’s ok to use an image they find online because it’s “there for the taking”.
    you are so right davin, just because you are a smaller designer with less budget does not give you the right to rip off a photographer’s hard work. in my books, are we not on the same team? there are many free or cheap for use stock photography sites out there where you can find some great stuff. there is no reason why any image should be used without direct permission from the creator.
    heather ( has gathered a pretty good list of image sources, check them out if you neeed imagery.
    cheers and happy st patties day

  4. Don’t you think it would be rad to see one of your pics on a Sony ad so that you could sue their patooty off? I’d love to see one of my pics in that kind of situation.

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