After reading Jennifer Altman’s post about having her copyrighted images used by others on Polyvore and blogs without permission, and even without credit at times to her, I feel a heavy sense of sadness and fear. I have a deep respect for Jennifer’s work. I aspire to be as good as her someday. She is pissed off, hurt, and indignant (my words, not hers). I can understand why.
It’s got me thinking about my own actions, examining my own behavior, man in the mirror style. For a brief time I participated in the free for all on Polyvore, but have removed myself from it after realizing that artists’ work was being stolen, in a sense, because of the site. But a bigger issue in my mind is the mosaics I do of my Flickr favorites using fd’s Flickr toys. I guess I’d rested assured that since credit is give for each photo via link back to the original posting of the photo in the artists’ stream, it was all kosher. And maybe, legally, it is. But, is it ethical? By the sound of what Jennifer was saying, and by the comments left on her post by like minded and similarly offended artists, it’s not.
While I would certainly be very upset to have my work stolen and plagiarized by some unethical wannabe, I am actually pretty easy going about this kind of thing. If I am credited (with links back to my blog or Flickr stream), and if the person displaying my work doesn’t profit from it directly (i.e. isn’t selling it) I’m fine with my images being used in mosaics, on blogs, etc. I had assumed that nearly everyone who puts their work on the internet would generally feel the same way. I’m gathering that that is not the case.
I feel kind of sick inside, knowing that I may have contributed to feelings of betrayal amongst Jennifer and her like minded colleagues. I feel guilt, I’m good at that emotion, and unsure of myself. And I know that I will be watching my step a lot more carefully from now on, asking permission whenever another’s work is going to be effected. As much as I LOVE doing them, I guess mosaics are out. (I’d like to say that I can just ask each person in a given mosaic for permission to use their image, but I just don’t have that kind of time.)
Any thoughts my friends?