Feb 1, 2011 by Sushi Bird
This is the Big Mean Copyright Post. (Which actually isn’t mean and actually is more about Creative Commons.)
Binka wrote a great post (in Norwegian) a while ago about using other people’s pictures on the internet (is it free promotion or theft?), and I have been brewing on a post about this topic on my own for a little while now. I wrote a long comment to her with my thoughts about this, and even though I do not want this blog to turn into a blog with long and lengthy text entries (I will leave that up to the people who can actually write), here are my thoughts about copyright and pictures on the internet:
When I first checked in on the internet 10 – 15 years ago things were very different than what they are today. A lot of people were stealing my pictures left and right, making fake myspace-profiles (pretending they were me), using my images as background images on livejournal and xanga (and claiming that they took the images themselves), people who made photo manipulations from my pictures on deviantart, etc. There is nothing quite like finding your very own fake myspace profile stating that you are, in fact, a Russian heterosexual woman aged 33 named Olga who likes to dance and also like young guys with big sixpacks on myspace. Gee. I got really angry and asked them to remove my pictures whenever I saw my pictures used without permission.
But – just a couple of years later, something new happened on the internet. Instead of stealing my pictures and claiming them as their own, more people wanted to post my pictures on their websites, but link back to me to give me credit. This made me confused – maybe the people who took my images weren’t all lying, stealing bastards after all?
And then tumblr arrived in the internet world. I started to not give a damn. My pictures were not really mine to control anymore. But people reposted them because they liked them. I started to think «God damn – If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!». So I made a tumblr-account as well. I found out that I really enjoyed making collections of pretty little treasures I found on the internet – it was like a beautiful scrapbook, without all the messy glue and glitter all over the floor.
And I guess my final thought is – I think I am mostly happy that other people like what I do enough to want to repost it. (This does of course not mean that I think it should be ok when people blatantly steal pictures, when people don’t credit, when people take pictures I explicitly do not want them to take, when people pretend to be me, or when people claim that they took my pictures themselves to get kudos for something they didn’t do.) I wish that people who take pictures and draw would be a little more grateful that other people find our pictures nice enough to show them attention. Isn’t that the reason why we post our pictures on the internet? If we didn’t want to show them off, we could have kept them on our computers.
So, this is my little call out to the internet, hoping that people who take pictures, draw or illustrate will loosen up a little, and maybe open up for some sort of re-use of their pictures instead of slapping on a hardcore © symbol on all of their pictures by default, without giving it any thought.
You can read more about the various CC-licenses on creativecommons.org