Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stolen Pixels

I've changed the background image of my blog, using one of my images. I don't know why I just went with the template defaults... easy or lazy? But with all the discussion of piracy and SOPA and PIPA recently, I see (possibly) stolen images everywhere. I wonder if permission was granted to Google or if the template images were purchased from a stock agency or if they were just found and copied because they filled a design need.

I am surprised at the number of people who think that if something is online, it's free... or should be. And I'm even more surprised by the number of my photographer friends who are against any sort of reprisals for theft of intellectual property. Yet they would be in an uproar if they found one of their photographs being used without their permission. Why is a movie or a software program any different?

I am not for or against the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills. I haven't read them in full. Maybe they go too far, I don't know. But I am in favor of punishing those who steal and their indignance at being held to a higher standard is ludicrous to me. Am I a goody-two-shoes? I assure you I am not. But we must all agree to play fair; especially since, thanks to the internet, we are all neighbors.

Now, people have said to me "If you don't want it to be stolen, don't put it on the internet." Surely, we can do better than that. But this brings me to another question that I have asked myself and other photographers: If you couldn't show your photos to anyone... not online or in local galleries or at camera club meetings... would you still take them?


Monte Stevens said...

Way cool to have your own image on your blog.

Yes, at this time I would continue to shoot as I enjoy the creation of images. They help hold memories of places I've been and people I've met. I have no clue what SOPA and PIPA are or say. I'm actually pretty clueless to all the legal stuff about copyrights, image theft and stuff like that. A couple years ago there were a few images stolen from pbase, one of which was mine. Wasn't sure what I could do about it and didn't worry too much. However, I do have images I would like to have all the rights to.

Brent said...

There's a real problem with piracy. I think a lot of this has to do with the business policies and practices of content creators. The audience is hungry for their goods, and sometimes the authors (big business) make their wares very difficult to attain, consume. I think iTunes proved that if it's easy, convenient, and fairly-priced, consumers are all over it. Unfortunately, because of a lot of different factors, demand can far exceed the current distribution paradigm's ability to satiate consumer craving.

This is especially so for those outside of the US. The Internet makes the world seem very connected and small. But try, just try to see an American film in an Mumbai theater. There's no Netflix to rent or stream. Hulu doesn't work there. Some countries still don't have an iTunes store. There's differences in region codes of discs. There's copy protection on those discs so you can't consume the content on the device of your choice, etc. <<<And this is just the American film industry. Imagine the complications around audio, text, and other media from around the world.)

I don't support stealing. And there's a solution to curbing piracy: making content easy and convenient to consume. Until that day, even the most law-abiding citizen will feel tempted to get what they want regardless of potential penalty.

And SOPA/PIPA were poorly-written pieces of legislation that were too broad and too severe. There's a problem, but SOPA/PIPA is not the solution.