I’m still on the road, so straggling along after the party. However. Excellent piece and discussion. I’ve been putting my photos up in an online gallery since 2002, and writing a blog for a little over a year. I quite regularly find my photos being used in blogs or on websites – sometimes with permission, but usually without. Over time, I’ve come to regard the whole thing along the lines of what SB has written above:
Early on, I decided to not fret about things I cannot control, and the undetected use of my work is one of those things. I don’t want to spend energy trying to detect such use, either.
Here’s my two cents worth on the subject — not too organized, but for what it’s worth:
When I license the use of my photos, I generally have to supply a high rez image, so I post only low rez versions. That controls much of the “commercial value” of the images, although there’s also a bit of business in stock photos destined for the net. I haven’t got the time to search around to see if some turkey is swiping my low rez images and selling them to someone else. I assume it’s probably happening, but I can’t do much about it anyhow, so why bother.
As far as “use” goes, I do ask people to let me know when they wish to use an image for some purpose – and I’ve rarely turned anyone down for any reason except in a couple of cases where people wanted to use an image in a commercial way (for example, as part of a software program that was intended to be sold). I regularly hear from professors or students who wish to use my images in their powerpoint presentations at universities. Also, I hear from those wishing to use my photos as reference materials for all kinds of art and objects (last week, I heard from a woman who wanted to use some of my spider photos in a quilt she was making!). One time, I received an email from a lady who had been using my insect photos as reference for “folk art fishing lures” that she’d been selling on eBay. Apparently, she started feeling some remorse about using the images without telling me, so she wrote to show me photos of them (hell, until then, I didn’t even know where *was* such a thing as a folk art fishing lure!). Anyhow, I’m pretty cool with usage of images so long as there are links posted that will lead someone back to my image galleries or blogs (after all, that’s how I make sales). The only thing that bugs me quite a bit — and I know this is getting off-topic, but it’s my pet peeve as an artist. I get quite a number of requests to use photos in books, museum displays, etc.. where the person or company doesn’t want to pay anything for a high rez image. I find that troublesome as it implies that images aren’t worth anything. Also, it’s a nuisance to look up the images in my drives. As well, once someone has an image file, they can do anything with it.. make prints, posters, or whatever, and I’ve lost control of the file forever. As an artist, I find it irksome that a museum will pay an exhibit designer and a writer for the text panels, then budget for materials, lamination, etc.. and then *not* set aside even a small budget for licensing images (I was recently approached by a museum that wanted to use one of my snowshoe images on a laminated display panel at the entrance to a new exhibit, but didn’t want to pay anything for it). I’ve run into a similar situation with contractors who are writing brochures for natural resources departments in the U.S. and Canada – who are being paid to write and assemble the materials, but don’t budget for photos and then expect photographers to supply images “for free” because the brochure is about wildlife or invasive species, etc… I’ve started to take a harder line on these as I know some of these contractors and they are making ridiculously good money on government contracts, so their wheedling of images and photos from artists and photographers is really just a form of parasitism.
When it comes to my writing, I believe I”m pretty easy going about use. However, I must admit that my nose did get a little out of joint about a year ago when I found my “Burning Silo” story swiped and posted in its entirety on someone’s blog without any attribution. I asked them to either attribute it or take it down and they took it down rather than provide a link to my site (go figure that one). I haven’t posted a copyright or use policy one way or the other on my blog, but on my photo galleries, I do ask people to email me for permission to use photos. I doubt that I hear from a fraction of those who are using images but what the heck.