The internet is an amazing resource for sharing and obtaining information. However it is not without risk to a blogger's or photographer's intellectual property, that is, the personal posts and photographs that end up on the web. Whether it be a blog, such as this one, or a photo based site such as flickr, or even on social media sites, photos in particular are potentially at risk of being stolen.
I had this brought home to me, once again, this past week.
As regular readers will know, I have a long time, serious interest in Rondeau Provincial Park. And I have a ton of photos. Some end up being used here on this blog. I also have a lot on the Canadian Geographic Photo Club site.
While searching the internet a few days ago for photos on Rondeau, lo and behold, I found one of my photos pop up. But it wasn't on the CGPC site or anything connected to me. Instead it was connected to an article featured on a local Chatham media outlet's on-line news edition, about cottages and Rondeau. Someone from that media outlet apparently searched on line for a photo depicting Rondeau, and found one of mine on the CGPC site. And even though my name was attached to the one on the CGPC site, and my home town of Chatham was listed, the media outlet gave a photo credit to the photo club site and never made any attempt to contact me for permission.
Here is what it looks like on the CGPC site:
Here is what part of the article on the media outlet looked like (without the title, the main body of the article and the reporter):
So far I have had contact with the news reporter (who isn't currently employed at that media outlet) as well as the News Director and their Director of Interactive Media. Since they had had the use of it on their web site for over a year, and they are a commercial business, I feel that just taking it off their site is not satisfactory, but an appropriate photo credit is, along with some financial compensation.
Here is what a better resolution of the image looks like:
So far no one from that commercial media outlet has really explained how they obtained it or even made much of an attempt at an apology, but have taken it off their web site and offered to send it to their legal counsel for advice.
I mean, they pirated my photo, which was clearly marked with my name as the photographer, my home town was listed and it is in the same town as the media outlet, my phone number is in the local telephone directory and they didn't bother to contact me and ask for permission, let alone offer some financial compensation? And they have to send it to their legal counsel? I mean if that isn't blatant theft, what is???
Deflection, deflection and little or no responsibility.....yikes!
I'm not sure where this will end up, as I haven't heard anything from their legal counsel. I'm sure they will be sending a cheque in the mail almost immediately. Yeah, right. Knowing in general terms how much lawyers charge for almost anything, it would probably be less expensive for the media outlet to just fess up, send me the $$ that they will be paying their legal counsel, save the legal counsel some time, and everyone will be happier.
To add insult to injury, the article did not even support something that I would be in favour of.
This is not the first time I have had this happen. A couple of years ago I noted one of my photos was being used by a well known hotel chain, advertizing in a well-known birding magazine (which some of you no doubt get). This is the photo that appeared in the birding magazine.
In addition to an eventual apology, I got some financial compensation for its use. I can see where a third party may have been responsible for making it available. So even though it was apparently no fault of the hotel chain, they did come through with an apology and some $$.
I do donate many photos to several charitable nature type organizations to use, for their advertising, for their natural heritage education and such. I am happy to do that, as the intention is to get the general public to be more aware of the natural world, and hopefully the natural world will have a better chance of survival. But if a commercial business needs a photo, then why should I donate my time and expertise and sizable investment in expensive camera gear to help their bottom line? They should pay up and be willing to do so.
If only we lived in a perfect world........
So consider this as a general reminder to all you bloggers and photographers who post anything whatsoever on the web......it may be getting a far greater audience than you intended, and someone may be using your efforts to pad their bottom line!!