I was working with someone on a graphic design over the weekend and we were Googling around looking for image inspiration. We found the perfect image on iStockphoto and subsequently got into the discussion about paying to license the image. You guessed it, the conversation went loosely something like:
“It’s on the web so I can just use it, right?”
“No, someone has had to take the time and invest in gear to produce the image.”
“But everyone just uses pictures off of the internet, why can’t I?”
“Because it is immoral, you are effectively stealing ones time and definitely their Intellectual Property, you ‘must’ properly license the image if you are going to use it.”
I paraphrase greatly, but you get the idea.
Too many people these days think that if an image is on the internet then it is fair game to simply use it for whatever purposes the individual needs. There is no thought for the time that it took to get the image, the cost of the photographic gear to get the image, the cost of getting to the location, etc. etc.
This is something that, as a landscape photographer and also a software salesperson, irritates me considerably. If we continue to simply use stuff without proper consideration of the author, inventor, whatever, those premium resources will surely disappear and we will be left without the creative vision, sub-standard work and products and worse. Just consider some of the poor quality fake products on the market that are often downright dangerous. Where will we be when the quality products are pushed out of the market.
Anyway, this is an old story that will run and run but it did prompt me to take a look at my Pixsy account. This is a website that constantly trawls the internet looking for commercial and non-commercial uses of my landscape images and the results are sometimes quite interesting and often the root of some considerable frustration. I am also trialing Copypants as well and both are finding the same results most of the time.
One of my most copies images is the Hay Bale that I took over looking Stanwick one summer’s evening when the sky went a deep red (the one copied above). The image did OK on 500px and Flickr, but it did not set the world on fire by any stretch of the imagination, but it is really interesting to see how many people have used it for their profiles on personal sites like blogs, etc. However, where it gets really interesting is to note how often my images are now being used on commercial websites as well.
I have already cleared out a number of images but the hay bale image has been used as far afield as Mexico and it’s even been used for artwork for a music track being offered on mix cloud and, yes, I have requested that it be removed.
Whilst it is a shame that people think that they can simply steal these images, it is nice to know that my work is appreciated enough to warrant reuse. The question now, is whether I feel brave enough to challenge people and run the risk of the legal fee charge-back the sites like Pixsy charge if something goes wrong with the case and they have to back out – whatever happened to no win no fee for copyright?