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 youíre wondering about copyright issues (after all, these arenít my photos), the photos are being used by me for my own, private, noncommercial use. Iím not selling these things and not charging admission to my apartment, so I think Iím in the clear.

Obviously, photographers and others may feel quite differently about this, but itís a thorny issue: If printing out an image on Flickr isnít 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? (Iíll 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 isnít 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 ó 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 itís like Iím taking a bird and opening my window and letting it go. Off she goes. Her song to be enjoyed by the entire world ó certainly no longer mine.

It’s a liberating thing.

Thanks for the heads up, Roger!