w00t! The New York Times Finally Advocates Stealing Intellectual Property

Sonia Zjawinski has an interesting article out over at the NY Times’ Gadgetwise blog entitled “Flickr as an Interior Decorating Tool,” where she basically advocates stealing other people’s photographs off of Flickr.

From Zjawinski:

“And if you’re wondering about copyright issues (after all, these aren’t my photos), the photos are being used by me for my own, private, noncommercial use. I’m not selling these things and not charging admission to my apartment, so I think I’m in the clear.

Obviously, photographers and others may feel quite differently about this, but it’s a thorny issue: If printing out an image on Flickr isn’t ok, what about Wi-Fi picture frames that stream images from Flickr and display them in your living room? What about Tivoing an episode of Lost and watching it later with friends? (I’ll be following up this post with another post, chock full of answers from legal experts, in the coming days.)

Of all the artwork I have in my studio apartment (there isn’t a bare wall in the house), my Flickr finds get the most attention. Best of all, they were practically free! I use a Kodak ESP7 AIO printer to ink my finds on various sizes of photo paper and frame them in inexpensive frames found at Urban Outfitters or Ikea. The only thing I pay for is ink, paper and frames — peanuts, in my opinion.”

Heh heh. It’s nice to see the NY Times *finally* come out advocating a moral position that intellectual property theft is alright as long as you don’t get caught. Zajawinski gets beat up pretty hard in the comments section of her post from a bunch of photographers who think she is stealing their work. Typical cry babies.

Do I personally have a problem with what Zajawinski’s advocating here? No way. I think it’s great. And I guarantee you that most of the photographers crying about “image theft,” in the comments section of the post have all illegally copied music themselves. That’s the hypocrisy with too many photographers these days. I used to have a friend who was constantly pulling down tracks off of Hype Machine and saving them for their own use (and resending them to me) and then bitching all the time about people stealing images. It’s like it’s ok to rip off music, but God forbid someone dare download my precious photograph that I took of a seal last month — even though in both cases the material is being used purely for personal use.

I’m sure I’ll take a lot of heat for sticking up for Zajawinski here. But I say if you want to rip off Thomas Hawk images and print them out for yourself go for it. I put high res photos up on Flickr and feel free to help yourself, just click on the magnifying glass above any of my images and you can get a large high res version. I hope it makes your new kitchen or den a more interesting place.

And to the photographers who are bitching about this sort of personal use. If you don’t like it, take this little bit of advice. Don’t put your photos on the internet. Nobody is forcing you to put your images up on the internet. Maybe the best thing for you to do is to keep them only to yourself. Make prints and lock them in a little safe in your house where only you have the key. Late at night you can pull down the shades so that nobody can see in and take them out and look at them all you want, privately, securely. It’s a beautiful thing.

As for the photographers who don’t like this that *still* put your photos up on the internet, well, my advice to you is to simply get over what the NY Times is advocating here. Seriously. Life is too short. Stressing about internet thieves stealing your work will get you nothing. It will bring you no joy in the end. It only leads to bitterness. Learn to let it go. Forget about it and go take more pictures. Trust me on this one. In the end you’ll be dead and it won’t matter one iota who printed out one of your photos to hang above their kitchen sink.

I’ve said this before and I’ll reprint it here again. I look at my photography like this. When I make an image it belongs to me. It belongs to me while I take the photo. It belongs to me while it sits in my camera. It belongs to me while I process it on my Mac. It belongs to me while I let it sit in an archive folder waiting to be uploaded to the internet. Then I upload it to the internet and it’s like I’m taking a bird and opening my window and letting it go. Off she goes. Her song to be enjoyed by the entire world — certainly no longer mine.

It’s a liberating thing.

Thanks for the heads up, Roger!

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  1. William Beem says:


    It’s great that you share your images with no regard for how they may be used. It’s your prerogative. Others may feel differently. That’s their prerogative.

  2. “Heh heh. It’s nice to see the NY Times *finally* come out advocating a moral position that intellectual property theft is alright as long as you don’t get caught.”

    So, is it alright to steal cars if you don’t get caught? Newspapers? Money from the tip jar at the coffee shop? If not, the argument is (I hope!) not that stealing is OK. The argument can be reduced to “stealing is OK if you don’t get caught?” Might want to think the ramifications of that through just a bit, no?

    “… I guarantee you that most of the photographers crying about “image theft,” in the comments section of the post have all illegally copied music themselves.”

    Guarantee? That may be your perception, but other than your hope and belief that this is true – perhaps tinged by a bit of hopeful self-justification – you don’t have much to go on there, do you?

    I’m a photographer who does not illegally copy music.


  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    William, this is true.

    Dan, you are in a minority. Let me ask you this though. Have you ever TiVo’d a baseball game without the express written consent of major league baseball?

  4. Anonymous says:

    now, if she is doing this to replace the need to actually buy prints its lame, but just for slideshows or something is more likely.

    some day the 24×36 HD LCD will be 150 bucks, but its a lot of power, and very expensive nowadays. itll be like 10 years before this is any real threat.

    Just dont upload anything bigger then 1000 pixels on flickr, problem solved.

  5. Paul says:

    I just think that I should point out that the vast majority of Flickr photos have a creative commons license (including mine, which is the attribution, noncommercial share-alike version personally), meaning that as long as its for personal use, its perfectly legal for anyone to take, print and enjoy those photos, with no need to ask permission.

    Granted, I’m sure that some people put up an all rights reserved license on their stream, but then why the hell are those photos even on the net, let alone Flickr, who’s entire point is to share photographs?

    As for people “stealing” images from Flickr, the only thefts that I’m aware of is when major corporations take images that are clearly labelled noncommercial and use them commercially without permission and without attribution. That’s theft and a violation of copyright (often done by corporations who are most protective of their own copyrights, BTW). Someone printing CC-licensed images to put on their walls at home is so not.

    If you don’t want people to see your photos, don’t use Flickr, Picassa or any other photo sharing site, where the default license is creative commons. Use a commercial site or your own site where your photos are locked away in flash, so no one can get their grubby hands on them.

  6. […] w00t! The New York Times Finally Advocates Stealing Intellectual PropertyJune 26, 2009 […]

  7. when the license of a picture is “all rights reserved” no one can use it, not even for display , forget personal use.

    if the license however is different then you have some scope of using any picture.

    and this is the law, not some artists obsession with self creations. The license is there for a reason.

  8. I think it’s very interesting point in here. I’m not going to bash Zjawinski, I was thinking bout printing few pictures and hanging them in my apartment myself, thou I haven’t done it (I printed my own pictures). On the other hand, I would love to sell few prints through my RedBubble account so I’m not going to post high res pics on flicr so anyone can print them (my connection is too slow anyway, I would die before my pics have uploaded ;P )

  9. Scott Bourne says:

    Thomas — When you use photography as a single source of income for supporting your family – then you have the right in my opinion to give this sort of advice if you’re willing to let your kids suffer for your position. But to those of us who depend on photography as a way to earn a living will suffer because of your glee. When I learned of your stance on Copyrights I immediately pulled all of my images off Zoomer and have been vocal about, and will be vocal about why. I do suggest taking your images off sites that support Copyright infringers in their ability to steal photographer’s work.

    So if anyone needs to “get over” something it’s you. You need to get over the fact that I sue – regularly – and successfully – people who infringe my work. I also have decided to start teaching other photographers how to sue – and as forcefully as I have defended you in your War On Photography stance I will rebuke you for you position that suborns Copyright infringement.

    And by the way, I ALWAYS license the music I use for my photo slideshows or public performances and since we know each other, I’ll gladly show you copies of those licenses any time you want to see them.

  10. Matt Needham says:

    So it’s okay as long as a lot of other folks are doing it, and the chances of getting caught are slim? You should make sure you teach that lesson to your kids. 😉

  11. Thomas Hawk says:

    But to those of us who depend on photography as a way to earn a living will suffer because of your glee.

    Scott, I don’t think so. I don’t think in fact someone printing out a photo from Flickr derives an artist out of any money. I would be willing to bet that 99.9% of the people that would print a photo for free on Flickr would not in fact buy that same photo from the artist. People who pick up free songs on the net or free photos on the net are not the kind of people who would pay. There is simply no loss in income and if there is it is infinitesimal.

    So if anyone needs to “get over” something it’s you. You need to get over the fact that I sue – regularly – and successfully – people who infringe my work.

    There’s a big difference between suing someone who uses your work in a verifiable commercial way and someone who is using it for personal use. Let me ask you this question. Have you ever sued someone who printed out a photo of yours to hang in their home? I bet you never have. Although the threat is admirable, the likelihood of someone being sued by you or anyone for downloading a photo (or song) for personal use is again infinitesimal.

    Personally I respect your opinion and think it’s valid, although polar opposite of mine. I think the world’s a great big place full of varied differences of opinions and that’s what makes life unique.

    Oh, and while you’re boycotting me, you might also want to consider boycotting the New York Times. After all it’s their article in the first place. Oh and your Pal Leo Laporte has also republished a quote of mine included in this very article his Tumblr blog so you might want to boycott him as well. http://leo.tumblr.com/post/77486952/i-look-at-my-photography-like-this-when-i-make-an#disqus_thread I’m sure I could find more people for you to boycott.

    As for me, I’m not going to take my link to TWIP down off of my blog simply because I disagree with you on copyright policy. That would be intolerant and silly in my opinion and I think tolerance in the world of ideas is a beautiful thing.

    One more question for you Scott, have you ever Tivo’d or VCR’d a television show. Do you know that the TV Execs have referred to this as stealing their content as well.

  12. […] [From w00t! The New York Times Finally Advocates Stealing Intellectual Property | Thomas Hawk Digital Conn…] […]

  13. Bakari says:

    Though I’d be honored if someone thought enough of my work to steal it, I think we all must agree that in a money economy everyone is trying to get paid, esp. now that dollar has no real value except for what we make each other believe it has. But anyway, I think I agree with Thomas. When you put photos on Flickr, a public Internet forum, then you’re essentially saying that your work is available for download. That’s why I don’t post much of my client wedding photography work there, because that’s what I use to make money.

    Now recently an Internet site called Schmap started asking to post a couple of my photos in their online travel site. I was honored to be asked, but after reading some comments from other photographers concerning Schmap , I felt that if this company is making money using the photos of other people, then it needs to find a way to compensate photographers for the photos they are using to make their money. I just think that’s only fair. Both of the photos they used of mine so far cost me money (travel expenses) to take them. So when I allow them free use, I’m saying that my work has no value. And that essentially can’t be in a money economy. That’s the evil of the dollar, like it or not.

  14. Bakari says:

    Plus, what does it mean for a society when everything that is produced and consumed is tied to an economic exchange? How long can a society really survive and thrive on that type of relationship? Check out Kembrew McLeod’s related book, “Freedom of Expression (R): Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity “

  15. Scott Moore says:

    A point that I think being missed here is the cavalier way that TH has about using someone’s photo from the internet. I certainly agree that if you have Creative Commons marked then go for it (for non-commercial use). But, if I put online a photo and establish it as a Copyrighted photo, I don’t give a damn what your attitude toward online content is, its illegal… not something “to get over”. The internet is just the same as a magazine, tv, or radio (in a sense)… its a platform for sharing content/information/etc. Because the internet makes this easier doesn’t mean it makes it legal.

    I have a friend who works for a liquor company and has admitted to taking photos from Flickr to be used in their companies literature and marketing material. Her attitude is just as cavalier about downloading images as yours TH (which is a bit surprising honestly). I have debated this issue several times, but she sees nothing wrong with this. Oh, and she has stated that everyone in her industry, she knows, does this all the time… I’m just hoping to catch one of my shots being used, because I’m going to hopefully become a rich man 🙂 (Maybe Mr. Scott Bourne will be getting an email from me LOL).

    I don’t use photography as my sole income, but it has become a very nice side income. I have even made many sells because of my work posted on Flickr. If it was so common place for people to use work online like is being somewhat suggested in the NY times article, I would have been out hundreds of dollars, if not more.

    Of course now, I limit my image size, place a small border and logo on my images… just in case… for me Flickr is a way of sharing my work to friends, but also a way of marketing my work to prospective buyers and clients.

  16. Thomas Hawk says:

    Scott have you ever recorded a TV show on a VCR or TiVo’d a broadcast for your own personal use in your own home?

  17. Times have sorta hung Sonia out to dry with this comment.

    So Thomas are you still supporting a position that was an accident of poor journalism?
    Because the Times is not.

  18. Thomas Hawk says:

    Ralph, yes I am. Let me ask you these two questions Ralph. I’d ask the same question to anyone above critical of people downloading a photo from the internet for personal use.

    1. Have you ever downloaded a song without paying for it from the internet?

    2. Have you ever used a VCR or a TiVo to record a broadcast television program for personal use without permission from the copyright owner?

  19. Akbar says:

    Trying to put the complainers on the defensive by asking if they have ever downloaded music without paying for it or recorded something with a VCR or Tivo is merely another means of avoiding the real issue. And even if every flickr photographer had documented instances of having either illegally downloaded music or having recorded a television program, that doesn’t justify the theft of images. Federal copyright law may afford little protection, but certainly there are moral rights at stake here which should be recognized.

  20. I love the apple too oranges arguments. If want to go that route it is easy enough. I have never violated the copyright and rebroadcast a TV program. The Sony case already has already been done. I do have music TV shows and Movies. I have iTunes. I have not owned a VCR, dvd recorder or a Tivo in years I am on the go to much. I still have an analog TV. I will also say Napster set the case law. I have never believed in the glass houses argument that much that you are trying to use.

    Since you want to go the apple too oranges route lets try this one.
    Have you ever driven over the speed limit? Have you ever received a traffic ticket for speeding? If sou we should get rid of those laws because everyone speeds or has the potential to speed.If there was no laws regarding speeding no one would be cited. Why do we have traffic laws? To protect the rights and safety of the drivers. Yes some of the speeding laws may seem redundant but overall they are system that is in place to protect the drivers.

    Autos are built so they can speed, but it the people who choose to speed. Whether by accident or intentional people break the speed limit but they also risk fines. If they are caught speeding they have to pay a fine. There laws in place to protect the rights and safety of all drivers.

    Copyright works the same way. It is a system that protects individuals rights much like traffic laws. Copyright is the same thing it is a set of laws that are in place to protect freedoms and rights of the end user and the producers. Yes, people can choose to ignore those laws, but there are fines and penalties in place for that. Just like speeding you can get caught and you will have to pay a fine. But copyright works in the same to keep the economic traffic flow of ideas moving.

    As much as people like to make the claim that internet has rewritten the rules the courts in many countries including the USA have sided against the argument. That does not mean laws should not be tailored more to match the technology, just as they have done for any medium. You are right now on the losing side of case law.

    Here is the basic mistake your arguments are making. Your argument is that Freedom as is only a right. My argument is Freedom is a right and a responsibility. Just because you can do something does not make it correct. We live in a system of checks and balances. Freedom only works if we respect others rights.

    You can choose to speed, you can choose to steal. The internet did rewrite the responsibilities of freedom as much as people like to pretend. Like I said your apples to oranges argument does not work. So I hope you have a lot better of an argument than that or I will be disappointed.

    Also please don’t try and use everyone else is doing it so it must be okay. What I find humorous is you are basing your contentions on a poorly written piece of journalism that was factually incorrect, that the Times is not supporting. So you are down two strikes.

  21. Thomas Hawk says:

    Ralph, you make my point well. You haven’t owned a VCR, TiVo, or DVD recorder in years. And you are trying to enforce lifestyle choices based on a tired old analog world. The fact of the matter is that the world is changing with or without you. When the defacto standard becomes out of line with the law, it’s not time for the standard to change, it’s time for the law to change.

    Since you bring up traffic laws — for a long time the speed limit in CA was 55 mph. A lot more people sped when it was 55 mph than do now that it’s been bumped up on most freeways to 65 mph.

    Was the person driving 56 miles per hour back when the speed limit was 55 violating some sort of moral imperative? I don’t think so. Any more than the fact that a person downloading a song or image for personal use is violating a moral imperative. Your confusing legality with morality when in fact they are two totally different things.

    Any society can obviously pass immoral laws — slavery, not allowing women to vote, etc. I personally refuse to give even one iota of moral value to laws simply for the fact of them being laws. While many, many laws are in fact based in good and valid morality, I need more than law alone as an argument.

    I speed regularly. Sometimes though I don’t speed too. But if it feels right on a dull and dreary slow Friday morning to drive 80 down I5 instead of 70, I’ll do it and won’t lose a minute of sleep over it.

    The fact that everyone else is also speeding isn’t why I think it’s ok to drive 80. I think it’s ok to drive 80 because it feels right to me and I’ve yet to see any rational evidence why I shouldn’t and absent rational evidence I’m not inclined to obey a law simply because it’s a law. Question authority Ralph.

    Personally I don’t believe the copyright laws as they exist today are moral at all. I think that they are largely the product of the Walt Disney Company and other large corporate interests lobbying law makers to protect their corporate and economic interest. I have no problem violating copyright law.

    Let me put this another way. I first bought Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks on vinyl. I bought it again on cassette. I bought it again on CD. If I want to download a track off the internet of Blood on the Tracks for free now I’ll do just that. And I won’t feel any moral pangs over the loss of income over that action to Bob Dylan or CBS. You know what though. I also *buy* CDs from bands directly. Both on the internet and at concerts whee I also support them economically. It’s nice to know that when I do that most of the money actually goes to them. But things aren’t black and white simply because the law is.

    Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Shephard Fairey, all violate/violated copyright law when they make/made their works of art. I applaud them. They make the world a more beautiful place.

    On Saturday I shot the old Washington Packing Cannery here in San Francisco. You know what, it’s illegal for kids to spray paint graffiti in there. They do it anyways. I applaud them as well. They are making amazing art.

    Basing life decisions on what the laws are is not the way I (or really most people choose to live their lives). And since you bring up the consequences. Yeah, I’m perfectly willing to live with the consequences of my actions. I’ll gladly pay the speeding ticket. But cops are on freeways and not in people’s homes and I doubt you are ever going to see any suits brought against people for downloading a photo from the internet and printing it out.

  22. I have heard of a reach but copyright = slavery and inequality that is a little ridiculous. Again we are back to apples and oranges. You might as well throw in Apartheid and Jim Crow. Strangely enough the copyright laws do protect art. The courts have sided with artists and like Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. Where Shephard Fairey had issues was not the editorial use of his art work but the commercial application of his work because it was derivative.

    Morality is great with facts in support it. Your statements are based on emotion. You argue that Copyright is a tool of Disney. I would argue that copyright protects you from Disney. Corbis (owned by Microsoft) tried at on point to argue changing a pixel of an image changed the content of the image making it a new image. This concept failed because of copyright laws.

    Copyright Time and Time again has protected the little guy against the Corporate Goliath. History has been working against you on this. It is great to say in a sweeping statement that copyright is like slavery but the facts do not support it. It is at best a silly comparison. In fact such statements can be argued lessen the great sacrifices of people that have fought those issues. That is so very disheartening to trivialize such great sacrifices.

    If you think you are on the side of the angels on this one you may want to look at the orphan act. It was the corporations that had lined up strike down copyright laws. Corbis and Getty wanted to strike down copyright laws. So in essence you are arguing on the side of Bill Gates (He might qualify as a fallen angel). I love irony. 😉

    I still find it funny that you are using the Times as a reference, when they were factually wrong and have stated as much. Again that ship not only left port but sank. Look I have no love of corporations, but assertions are wrong. All laws are a doubled edged sword which why we jury trials to bring in a human temperance to the laws. Remember I was a full time photojournalist not exactly conservative in nature.

    What is funny I keep waiting and hoping you would bring something substantial. Instead, all I have seen is broad generalities no facts, and trying to put people on the defensive if they use a VCR or TiVo which is legal. The big issue so far was the times screwed up. That is a fact.

    You are arguing from the heart, I do respect it. But my personal advice here is check the facts. I will say that there are several points you could have brought up that I was surprised you didn’t. Lets be blunt, there are not going to be any Jacked Boot storm troopers kicking in doors over illegally printed photos. The core of the issue here was bad advice which the author and the Times have backpedaled on.

    My basic view of this is like this. It is like speeding, someone who speeds a lot will get pulled over and fined. But would you want to try and drive the highways without traffic laws?

  23. I absolutely love your photos. Can they be purchased or used for printing? Since we work on large format printing, we get a lot of consumers who want to purchase large art work to hang up in their home. How would we go about having an agreement to print your work. We’re located in Madison Wisconsin.

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  25. Thomas Hawk says:

    Ralph, it’s not like speeding at all. Thousands of people are fined for speeding every year. NOBODY is fined or sued or prosecuted in any way shape or form for printing out a photo from flickr at their house and hanging it in their kitchen. Apples and oranges.

    The fact that it is illegal is immaterial. It’s a victimless crime that cannot be patrolled or enforced. There are no consequences to speak of for anyone choosing to print out photos from flickr.

    The only thing that remains is a moral argument. And personally I see no moral imperative when it comes to protecting intellectual property from personal use.

  26. I use the Mogrify and Flickr Lightroom plugins to put a big watermark across the middle of the image as it is uploaded to Flickr. People can still see what I am up to, but it tends to discourage them printing and hanging the images.

  27. “Copyright Time and Time again has protected the little guy against the Corporate Goliath”

    This is a joke right?

    From the music business to software development through pharmaceutical R&D. Copyright is a powerful tool of “the Corporate Goliath”. The examples are legion: Disney, Pfizer, EMI, Microsoft (re: GPL) (and also patenting, the other arm of so-called Intellectual Property).

    Artists are creators just like scientists, or engineers. Why do artists receive such excessive protection from society? Because they create individually, whereas engineers create in groups? Scientists are just as innovative and artistic as artists, yet they receive no copyright and protection from society. Patents only last 20 years and are dominated by corporations, Copyright 50-70 (longer in some countries).

  28. Andrew Copyright is not the same as patent law. They are two different beasts. I know a lot of people get patents, trademarks and copyright confused but they are all very different.

    A copyright is collection of 5 exclusive rights. These are:
    (1) the right to reproduce the work
    (2) The right to prepare derivative works
    (3) the right distribution
    (4) The right to preform the work
    (5) The right to display the work

    These are some of the things that can be copyrighted
    • literary works
    * Musical works including any accompanying words
    • dramatic works, including any accompanying music
    • Pictorial, graphic & sculptural works
    • Motion Picture and other audiovisual works
    • Sound recordings
    • architectural works.

    It is funny Disney was mentioned because they lost a copyright case because of the fair use portion of the copyright law. In this case parody Walt Disney v. Air Pirates which a publication of two Magazines called “Air Pirates Funnies”, in which characters resembling Mickey, Minnie and Donald were depicted as active members of the drug ingesting counter culture. Courts upheld that it was a parody and also protected by the First Amendment.

    From personal experience I went head to head with NBC because they violated an agreement on how an image that I had shot. It was a portrait of a national college athlete that had died of a heart issue. Because I held the copyright we came to a settlement in my favor.

    In 1991 ASMP filed a brief in which courts up held the copyright of individual independent contractors was protected against publishing houses.

    Here is the basic problem. Most people do not know copyright laws and what they don’t know they fear. Most people do not know the case law or history of the court cases so they make assumptions. Or they only hear sound bites from the Record company cases or napster and again make assumptions.

    Historically copyright has protected individuals from the corporations. Why do you think so many corporations wanted the Orphan act. If copyright was more like the patient laws then the corporations would have the control you fear. History and the case laws do not support your position here.

    A great example of not understanding copyright is Andrew’s and Thomas’s statements. These broad statements that just do not match the facts.

    One the big issues did you knowingly violate copyright, did you receive revenues. These are written into the copyright laws. I know most people will want to bring the huge fines because of the record companies, but that was not just an issue of owning illegal music but knowing distributing it.

    One my favorite books that I picked up when I went through a semester of media law (required course when I majored in photojournalism) is “The Law (In Plain English) for Photographers” by Leonard D. Duboff

    This book give the best explanation I have seen for copyright and other legal issues for photographers.

  29. Thomas Hawk says:

    Ralph, I very much understand copyright law. I understand that it’s against the law for someone to download an all rights reserved photo from Flickr and print it out and hang it in their home. That this violates copyright law. It’s just that the law is immaterial in terms of my own personal code and I suspect the code of millions of other Americans as well. It’s against the law to jaywalk. Have you ever jaywalked?

    It’s against the law to download music illegally and yet millions of Americans have. In fact I suspect more have than haven’t.

    I understand that it is in fact technically and actually against the law to download a photo from the internet.

    You and others keep talking about suing and lawsuits and verifiable commercial use of photos like your example with NBC etc. These are very different things and far easier to take action on than someone printing a photo for personal use. Let me ask you this Ralph. Have you ever sued someone for printing out a photo and hanging it in their home? Can you site a single case ever where someone was sued for that?

    Your code says it’s wrong to print out photos for personal use, in part because of the illegality of it. Mine says it’s ok. The law alone isn’t going to get me to a moral position that it’s wrong and I’ll continue advocating that people live by their own code regardless of what any law says.

  30. Scott J. says:

    TH, I think you’ve made yourself pretty clear on the subject of your own personal ethics, even in the face of a conflicting license term attached to materials, such as the photos posted to Flickr.

    While I agree that photographers truly interested in discouraging improper use of their works should be taking measures, such as watermarking and posting only low-res photos, that doesn’t change the fact that people should exercise the personal responsibility of adhering to the intentions of the property owner.

    The NYT blogger (why on earth do professional newspapers have blogs?) crossed a line when she advocated ignoring copyright restrictions simply because it suited her. A vast majority of the uproar would have been avoided if she had practiced some journalistic prowess by cautioning people to pay attention to the licensing issues surrounding photos posted on Flickr. It could have been a teachable moment instead of just thumbing her nose at responsibility.

    It doesn’t matter if “everyone’s doing it” or that it may be impractical for anyone to prosecute an individual for such an infraction. It’s still wrong to ignore a copyright placed on a creative work.

    Of course, all of this could be rendered moot if Flickr were to just make it easy for Flickr visitors to pay Flickr photographers a reasonable price for prints. I’ll bet many photographers would love to earn a few bucks from the casual purchasers out there. Wasn’t Zoommr (sp) supposed to enable that capability on its site? Whatever happened to that?

    Perhaps the copyright and ownership and licensing issues aren’t so easy to overcome after all.

  31. Thomas Hawk says:

    It’s still wrong to ignore a copyright placed on a creative work.

    Scott, according to you and the law. I feel differently, as do obviously millions of Americans who illegally download music and photos on a daily basis.

  32. Jason says:

    Nice on Thomas. I feel a little relieved, I once printed a photo of yours from flickr without your permission (I did ask in the comments, but to no reply). *phew*

    You’ve even put it into perspective when I think about my own work. I do feel for those who want to make their main income from their photography. But Ralph doesn’t do himself any favours by suggesting that copyright isn’t like copyright -photos or music it’s still a very similar situation.

    BWT thanks for the print 😉

  33. Jason says:

    oh! And Creative Commons _should_ be a solution to this.

  34. Scott,

    Could I ask if you approve of people viewing any images you post on the internet within the web browser? Assuming you approve of this, would you let someone set up a computer in their home specifically for showing one of your images? Day in, day out, all that computer does is have a browser window showing one of your images. Would this be acceptable?

    How is letting someone view one of your images on their web browser ANY different to them printing it out and sticking it on their wall? That you’ve made your images available online for viewing means you are offering up your photographs to the world to see.

    Incidentally, you do realise that the instant someone views one of your images online, they have immediately made a copy of that image on their computer, don’t you? Is that breaking copyright rules? Copyright is no longer as clear cut as it used to be and simply if you do not want people making illegal copies of your images, for personal or otherwise reasons, do not put them online.

  35. Oh, I occasionally make some money out of my photographs but I make all my images on Flickr available at full resolution for non-commercial use. The way I see it is if someone is going to “steal” my photos to print out and hang on their wall, I’d rather they get a good copy of the image so my work looks as best it can!

  36. QT Luong says:

    I am a full time photographer. My family is supported solely through photographic sales and licensing. Personally, I authorize explicitly that kind of use (see my terms of use for photos). I do not think it hurts the business. However, I don’t provide hi-res images for free download.

    On the other hand, I would think that if a photographer explicitly forbade it, the courteous thing to do is to abide by his wishes, regardless of whether you think copyright is bogus or not.

  37. […] is bring to your attention the thoughts of Thomas Hawk which he nicely outlined in his post titled w00t! The New York Times Finally Advocates Stealing Intellectual Property. I think Hawk’s opinion on the situation outlines the basics of the situation and what the […]