Saturday, March 28, 2009

Copyright? What copyright?

The web is a great thing.  I don't know how I'd get along without it.  But there are some serious downsides.

I make photographs because I really like to.  No, I love to.  I like to share some of what I do.  I mean, for me, that's the point... capture a frame for the sake of its visual appeal.  Not everyone is going to like it, but some will.  So I put some up on the web and provide links for viewing them, particularly to the subjects.

Imagine my surprise when I looked at the front page of the print publication for our local community radio station and found one of my photos staring back at me.  When I looked below the fold, there was another.  Nobody had asked me for permission, and yet here's my stuff showing up in print, without attribution.

Musicians (at least the ones I like) get up on stage because they love to do what they do, because they want to share what they do, and usually because they'd like some appreciation for what they do.  Appreciation in the form of applause (at least) and in the best of worlds, some money.  Not an outlandish amount usually, just some to help offset expenses.

I don't expect applause.  Though I have to admit that when one of my subjects came up to me a week ago and told me that those were the best pictures she'd ever had from a performance, it did feel really good.

I don't expect a lot of money.  Usually, I don't expect any, but some would be nice.  I've got a few thousand dollars invested in equipment, supplies and software... think of it as an analogue to a few guitars and an amp or two.  They're necessary tools, and they're not free to me.

I do expect respect.  And sometimes it comes.  But sometimes it doesn't.

I got an e-mail from a performer who happened to be included in one of my sessions.  No compliments or anything, just "send me everything you took at high resolution".  Naw... I don't think so.  Even if he understood what he was asking for he wasn't going to get it.  I gave him express permission to use web-resolution images of the files that I chose for MySpace or Facebook use only, and I didn't charge him.  It was a better deal than he deserved, but he probably still thinks I'm being a jerk because I warned him that he really didn't want me to find that he'd used anything in print without permission.

I'm regularly astonished at what some people believe they're entitled to.  But it does make those occasions when real appreciation is shown even more memorable.

No comments: