Alot of my photos get ripped off. There are thousands of them all over the internet. I personally am a big believer in sort of letting the small stuff go you know. I’m about making art and as an artist the more people that see my work the better — you’ll hear this alot from me. I mean people *should* ask and if they do ask I say yes most of the time — unless it’s a commercial situation and then I’ll ask to get paid, but I’m a reasonable guy who likes to share.
But every so often someone steals your work and they just hit all the right hot spots for you. So I was bummed to find out the other day that one of my all rights reserved photographs (and I don’t have alot of these, almost all of my work is licensed Creative Commons non-commercial which still requires attribution though) was pilfered by Emerging Arts Professionals. Even lamer was their excuse posted above for why they posted my photo without permission, attribution or compensation as required by a license.
“Hi Mike & Thomas: If this photo belongs to one of you, I do apologize on behalf of EAP. We found it, unattributed, on this site. It’s also available in other places online, also without attribution.”
So let me get this straight. The excuse for why an Arts Professionals organization steals my image and thinks it is ok is because they found my image somewhere on the web? These are supposed to be Professionals working in the Arts industry and they think it’s ok to steal images?
Now you might ask why I care as I’ve got a pretty liberal attitude towards the use of my work. In this case though I care because my work is being pilfered to promote a talk given by three representatives of the SF MOMA — (Megan Brian, Education and Public Programs Coordinator SFMOMA, Melanie Hwang, Membership Manager SFMOMA, and Louise Yokoi, Development Associate, Individual Giving SFMOMA).
The very same SF MOMA that threw me out on my ass a few years back for the crime of photography. The same SF MOMA that had their Director of Visitor Relations and two security guards personally escort me out of the museum and boot me right out the door to the curb along with a nice lewd hand gesture towards me. This, when I was a paying and sustaining member in good standing at the Museum which allows photography.
The museum accused me of voyeurism at the time (I was shooting the interior architecture of the museum with a 14mm lens when I was booted, you can see my “voyeuristic” shot I took here). Since ejecting me from the museum, the museum has never once apologized. They’ve never once tried to reach out to me to express regret over the situation. They even had the balls after accusing me of voyeurism of running a specific show at their museum dedicated to of all things *voyeurism*! — you know the sorts of shots that they accused me of taking with my 14mm lens before kicking me out without even giving me a chance to show them my ultra wide angle photos or explain. SF MOMA’s press release for their voyeurism show comes complete with a photo of some woman’s ass by the way — but hey, I guess that’s “art,” unlike my crappy photography which is only good enough for using to promote talks by their executives.
Arts Professionals should know better than to steal photos without asking I think — and if they are going to steal a photo, it’s probably best that they don’t steal a photo promoting a talk by an organization that treated someone so rudely and horribly in the past.
Oh, and SFMOMA? You still owe me an apology for throwing me out of your museum without just cause. I won’t be holding my breath. Emerging Arts Professionals? Shoot me an email and I’ll tell you where you can send the check to pay for the image which I would have told you you couldn’t use to promote the SFMOMA had you bothered to ask.
And just because something’s on the web unattributed, doesn’t mean you can just take it if you feel like it. It takes about two seconds most of the time to use a reverse image search on Google to see who owns a photo. Arts Professionals like you guys really should keep up with the latest technology, especially when some of you work for an organization as “prestigious” as the SF MOMA.
Update: So when I and a few other people commented on the image on Emerging Arts Professional’s blog objecting to the infringement they deleted the comments. These were respectful comments rightfully objecting to the unauthorized use. How forward thinking for a so called “Art’s” organization to employ censorship in addition to infringement and bad customer service. What a fine organization.