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Social Media, Image Theft & Naive Cock-Jockeys

To share or not to share. It’s not even a question. I share a lot of erotic pictures on social media. Both contemporary and vintage. And, yes, I’ve shared a hell of a lot of images that lack the photographer/model credit.

But I’m not going to change my ways because some simple-minded cock-jockey asserts every unattributed photograph is a direct act of theft. If they think that I’m a thief then they seriously misunderstand images on the World Wide Web. And the nature of social media in general.

As an amateur photographer I do understand the desire (even need) for attribution. Intellectual Property is a serious issue. However, people also need to understand how (particularly vintage) pictures wind up online in the first instance.

Step one usually entails an unpaid entity scanning and uploading a picture to social media. If that person fails to acknowledge the publication the picture was scanned from, the photographer who made the picture, or the subject matter… it is beyond my control to easily discover that information from the image.

Yes, the World Wide Web has a shitload of information about pictures. And, no, it’s not as easily available and transparent as a naive person would think. Add into that mix the misinformation – often images are incorrectly credited, for example – and the problem becomes how much effort is it worth to find a matchbox in a dust storm?

Google Reverse Image Search is a dubiously limited solution. Not the panacea espoused by some people. Yes, occasionally it reverse tracks the original image and the provided attribution is correct. But that’s IF Google Reverse Image Search locates the appropriate web page, because I’d punt that only about one of the last fifty reverse image searches I’ve made has returned a valid result. The vast majority of searches return no results; odd, considering all the images that I share were snatched off websites like tumblr blogs.

I’ve even failed to locate the web page where I’d only recently acquired an image. So, Google Reverse Image Search is not the great repository of image wisdom that some naive people seem to expect.

Let’s not even get started down the road of orphaned works, images out of copyright and that I am not a fucking library resource. Say that again out loud, if you must… “I am not a fucking library resource.” There, I hope it felt as good for you as it did for me in that moment.

I choose to share good photographs on social media. And I choose to do so within the reality of the real constraints of an Internet that is information agnostic. If I share your photographs without attribution it takes only a single email and the problem should be rectified… otherwise shut the fuck up. I’m not a thief. If they’re not your pictures I’m sharing then double shut the fuck up. Or send me the appropriate attribution.

I am, however, presenting a view of photography within a rather specific genre to the best of my ability for you to enjoy.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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