Greetings, pilgrims.

So, an associate of mine asked me if I could cover a gig for her last month in London for this project she was working on. Due to our close working relationship, who am I to say no?  The brief was for me to take pictures of her during her interviews with the director of the movie, Gautham Menon, and double Oscar winner A R Rahman scoring the music as part of the audio launch at BAFTA, of  new Tamil movie ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya‘, out this year.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, I managed to get some shots of the whole event.  Of course, my associate needed to put the images up asap, so rather than wait for me to input all relevant file info,  copyright, watermark and the like, said images are already up doing the rounds on fan sites.

Let’s  be realistic: you can’t really police every image circulating on the internet, unless certain search engines (I’ve got my eye on you, Google!) come up with a software in doing so.   Now, I have no objection at all with some of my images being used, and it’s always nice if people to seek permission out of  simple courtesy.   That said, I guess some people missed that memo.  Take Behind Woods, a website that showcases Indian Film. Some of the images I took from the event ended up on their site via my associate’s ‘over-enthusiasm’.

Here’s the image I took:

and here’s the nicked image:

Here’s another shot doing the rounds, but it’s now part of the press pack:

What’s insulting is that the Behind Woods team had the audacity to put their watermark on the pictures rather than even acknowledge where the picture was sourced from.  ***SLAP** You hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of photographers and creatives being slapped around the face by such people using the web as if  the internet is an online buffet with an All You Can Eat!’ stall ! Now, correct me if I’m wrong: but if you watermark an image, aren’t you implying that you took the image thus owning the copyright?

There seems to be a common misconception by many users of the internet that because an image is on the web, it’s free to use.  Let me spell it out for you: No, it’s not.  It’s called copyright infringement.   Why is it that the main culprits also seem to be ‘journalists’? How would you guys like it if we plagiarised all your copy and passed it off as our own? (not that we’d need to: a picture says a thousand words, so keep your text!!)  Here’s a true story: I know a guy that used to work on a picture desk for a publishing company.  He bought an image from Getty for one time usage. Of course, said image somehow found its way on to one of the journalist’s hard-drive who in turn decided to put the picture on the web without my buddy knowing what was going on.  Well, Gettyimages knew (They always know; they have this embedded software to track rogue images. For more info, read this), and suffice to say their legal team made contact with a $20,000 bill for extended period of usage of image without permission or license.  Thankfully, my buddy’s company only had to pay off $7,000, but still!!  Here’s an article in The Guardian newspaper about similar incidents.

I swear, Google has a lot to answer for!!

Here’s a quote to sign off: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he keepth the law, happy is he.’ Proverbs 29.18

Rant over, pilgrims!

3 thoughts on “How to nick an image and pass it off as your own…

  1. It’s totally justified to air your views on this. I also used to take pix of gigs for a website and they are still used often. Because the way the internet is set up and works it is inevitable that this happens but credit is due where credits due! Even if something is reused a small footnote should be there to inform who took the picture with a thanks or copyright note. To re-watermark it is like taking a piece of music and selling it off as your own.

    The Proverbs quote is wonderful!

    Here’s to a great 2010

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