Human nature… What a strange, confused and messy animal it can be. Consider image theft: not to illegally promote a product without the artist’s consent — which is bad enough — but to promote yourself. As a photographer. To promote your abilities. What kind of small, petty and deceitful person must you be to shamelessly display someone else’s work as your own?
These past few months have seen many such stories come to public attention but yesterday… It was my turn. I got an email from Markus Rack alerting me to Flickr user IM-David using some of my images in his Photostream. Sure enough there they were: two unedited portraits I was hired to shoot for Fujifilm’s XF 56mm lens. And why stop there? My two X-Photographer comrades Nathan Elson and Bert Stephani’s pictures were part of this guy’s portfolio as well; in for a penny, in for a pound.
Here’s a screenshot of David’s page:
Of course I sent him a direct message, even giving him the benefit of the doubt in case he was somehow confusing Flickr with Pinterest… No answer.
But the more troubling aspect of this incident is discovering the complete lack of tools we have at our disposal to deal with a situation like this. You can’t flag an image for anything other than age inappropriate content. Copyright issues require the post office and paperwork worthy of a 1955 bureaucrat. Given how easy it is for anyone to post anything as their own, it’s quite disturbing to see content creators have no easy way to even point out a possible infringement. These are public images that are part of a product campaign… But Yahoo would have us fill out paper forms in triplicate — in 2014. Bra. Vo.
UPDATE: Many thanks to reader Danny G. who directed me to the US version of the same copyright page. The good people at Yahoo Canada apparently don't yet have this thing called EMAIL. I've also been told they can only travel via horse and buggy.
If you’re on Flickr and feel like commenting on some of our stolen images in his stream be my guest. Maybe we can shame him into submission. But my guess is that he lacks the necessary conscience for this to have any effect.
Yup, human nature is a strange beast indeed.