A few things have happened recently that made me think that I should mention basic copyright law:
- An online “friend” on Facebook is a very talented photographer and everything she does is highly conceptualized, she creates images, she doesn’t just “take” images (there’s a difference but that’s for another post). She’s had quite a few issues where she’s found other “photographers” and “artists” copying and duplicating her images almost exactly and posting them as their own. The same thing has happened to another Facebook friend who also puts an amazing amount of work into her images, so unfortunately it’s becoming a very common experience.
- A co-worker recently came to me to print an graphic for a one of their friends and I went to the link that they supplied and it was an image on a Flicker account. Naturally I asked if that was their friend’s account and the answer was no, they just liked the picture and wanted to print a large mural for their house. I nicely refused to help at that point and suggested that their friend contact the photographer to buy or at least get permission to reproduce the image. My co-worker’s response was “well, if they didn’t want people to have it (the image) then why would they have it there to download”. I explained that it was there to view but not to take…,
- I’ve also noticed Designers and Creative Directors actually pulling images from anywhere on the web and using those same images in their company’s Creative Decks and Mock-ups to pass off to their clients or to the company executives for layout approval. Maybe, I’m getting old but this kind of threw me a bit when I noticed this happening.
The reason I find this a little disconcerting shouldn’t really need to be explained but just in case… here’s a little reminder: artists make art because they love to BUT they depend on the ability to sell their work to live and the examples listed above amount to stealing and keeping the creator from making any money. Note that I’m talking about Artists but this also refers to an Image produced commercially by a professional or studio too.
So, here’s a quick refresher course on Copyright:
- Your work (photographs, paintings, literary works, recordings, sculptures, letters, movies or anything in tangible form) is automatically COPYRIGHTED AS IT’S CREATED. Got that? It means the moment you click the shutter, write the word on the paper or record a new piece of music then it’s copyrighted as your own (provided you don’t violate the next rule).
- The copyright covers ORIGINAL works of art (not a derivative work) – you can NOT copy a painting, photograph or recording and think you can copyright it as your own. Lets say you’re “inspired” by someone else’s work and create your own and it looks just like theirs (oh, maybe you changed the color of their clothes or you’ve changed mediums and created a painting from another’s photograph) then you’ve just violated copyright law and could be taken to court by the original artist. Case in point, Shepard Fairey’s painting of the the photo of Obama (this was settled out of court) or “Rogers vs. Koons” regarding a sculpture made from Roger’s photo (Rogers, the photographer won the case).
- Ideas can’t be copyrighted BUT the way the idea is expressed can be…, so the way you execute the idea to your artistic medium can be copyrighted.
- There’s no need to register with with the Library of Congress to secure a Copyright BUT it helps should you have to go to court. In the past, you had to submit images of your work and pay a fee to actually be officially copyrighted but per the current law it’s no longer necessary.
- Also it’s not necessary to add the Copyright symbol but you should (i.e: © 2013 Dale C. Frame). On a Mac: Press the “Option” and “G” key. On a PC: Press Ctrl + Alt + C.
- You can google Copyright and learn more. I’m NOT a lawyer but here’s a lawyer’s overview of Copyright law: http://www.photolaw.net/faq.html
Now to confuse things even more ALL of the above information refers to the original Copyright laws, now we have an additional process that’s being used called Creative Commons which offers various different options.
- Allowing the ability to reuse but NOT Sell the creative work in question.
- The ability to creative a derivative work as long as you give the original artist “credit” for producing the original (IMO, if you operate this way then you should find another line of work and not call yourself an artist).
- Work for Sale, therefore you buy the rights – just as I mentioned above.
You can check out the Creative Commons here: http://creativecommons.org
In my opinion, I’m not sure that the Creative Commons scenario helps or just gives people to right to continue to do as they’re doing and then just feel good about it. But then, if the artist is ok with it then…all is well. Just remember to check out the status of the work before you do anything with it.
So by using the above information as a guideline, how should you conduct yourself on the web and social sites?
- Don’t download or print other’s work. If you didn’t pay for it or at the very least ask permission to use it then it’s not yours (seems like I shouldn’t have to even point this out but…,)
- Even if you buy the image then you’ve brought only limited usage for that work of art. You can NOT make copies without the artist’s permission. Usage rights should be negotiated when buying the work.
- Don’t pull an image from Facebook, Flicker or a personal website and post it elsewhere on the web unless you get the owner’s permission (by owner, I mean the artist – this is the most common offense as most see no harm in it but you’re infringing on the artist’s rights). Ask to repost, at the very least give CREDIT to the artist and maybe direct your audience back to their website (this is what Pinterest tries to do).
In my opinion, all of the above seems pretty basic and just common courtesy but most people may or may not realize that the artists are relying on the sale of their art to support them and most put a lot of effort and work into producing something that sets them apart from everyone else.
I want to take a little time to remind photographers and “would be” photographers about what’s most important in photography…the image. The final result of all of the work behind the camera.
Unfortunately photography is a hobby where people can get lost in the technical aspects of it and spend more time testing and critiquing their equipment than actually using it to do what it was intended for, the actual act of taking pictures. The online camera forums are filled and overflowing with “photographers” lamenting on how terrible their choice of camera was and how the camera company needs to come out with something better because what they have just can’t be used to take pictures. Now this is fine if you get paid to review cameras, otherwise…, it’s a waste of effort. Unless you really are only interested in the technical aspects of the equipment. But mostly it’s an excuse or a crutch, one that holds you back from expanding on your creativity.
Those that are lost in the specs and details of the camera, unfortunately lose out on the joy of photography and the ability to capture the world around them. To quote Chase Jarvis “the best camera is the one that you have with you” and he’s right. I’ve seen and taken some amazing pictures with my iPhone. I recently saw a gallery show where ten professional photographers shot only with the iPhone and the work was incredible. It was the style and content of the imagery that got your attention, the camera used was irrelevant (in fact, there’s no way to have known that they taken with an iPhone).
So the point is to have fun, shoot, experiment. Work on the image.
You don’t really need the latest and greatest model of camera out there to produce great pictures. If your camera does not have the ability to use a telephoto or a wide angle lens then get used to “seeing” from the point of view of the lens that is on your camera. But even then, we have a ‘built-in” zoom that we take everywhere – it’s called our feet, move around to determine the best angle of view for your subject. If you know your camera and your subject then you can get great pictures from a manual (no automation) fixed-lens film camera. Some of the world’s best photographers (Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Henri Cartier-Bresson to name a few) did just that and very few can duplicate their efforts, all because of their Creativity NOT their camera. Some of my best images were taken with a Hasselblad 500 CM, where all of the settings were manually set (including the focus, imagine that…).
Nothing that I’m saying is new or unheard of, in my opinion people just get caught up in the marketing and commercialism of photography (I’m guilty of it too, so I’m speaking from experience).
I’ve owned a lot of cameras over the years (most were used professionally) but none of them ever made me a better photographer – only I could do that.
So go and enjoy the act of seeing and creating that special image.
By the way the flower image shown above was shot with my iPhone. My profile pic on my Bio page was “shot” with my iMac (I’m holding a Nikon S2 Rangefinder).
I recently took a quick day trip to the Coast, just my wife and I. I was a bit stressed and I find the beach relaxing, even the cold, rainy Pacific Northwest Coast satisfies my need to be at the beach and manages to relax me. I came from the East Coast and my family always went to the warm southern beaches for summer vacation. Finally, they brought a second home on the North Carolina coast and I ended up living there until I moved out West seventeen years ago. So I feel like I have a close connection to the beach and it’s always represented a feeling of both freedom and security to me.
If you’ve ever been to both coasts, you know how different they are from each other, not only in their geology but in how they’re commercially developed. The West, specifically the Northwest, is wilder and less developed. The East Coast still has some less developed areas but for the most part it caters to tourism and commercial interests. You’ll be hard pressed to find a high-rise hotel on the West Coast unless you travel further South to California or go to Hawaii.
That’s what I like about the “Great Pacific Northwest” it still has that element of wilderness and even a kind of “magic” about it. First thing that I noticed after I moved here is that the light is different from what I was used to, hard to describe exactly – you have to experience it. But as a photographer I noticed it almost immediately and therefore I wanted to capture it and portray what I saw and how I felt about it. Which brings me to the images that you see here, I feel like I’ve been able to capture those feelings and that special light. Normally, I’m happy to be able to produce one image from an photo outing that I really like – this time I got three (the third one is the called “The Tide” and it’s on my other website: www.aphotogslife.com). Of course I “tweaked” them a bit with some post-processing to bring out and intensify what I was experiencing (I always do in some way, unless I’m just “recording” an event or subject).
Let me know what you think.
All Images / All Rights Reserved © Dale Carey Frame