Please indulge me while I ponder and vent. As a photographer and user of social media, I regularly receive images from well-meaning enthusiastic art fans from around the world. I look and marvel and grin and drool and covet. And then I wonder who made these wonderful images? With few exceptions, their work has been passed around the world with not so much as a nod to the artist. As a result of the internet we are the recipients of a wealth of incredible images. They are conceived and created by the most talented folks from all over the planet.
As consumers most people (mostly young ones) come from a culture in which anything that can be electronically glommed onto is fair game. Is it just me or has the world gone morally bankrupt? In many cases I don’t believe people even understand they have committed a crime. It is as if the masses, most of whom carry cameras onboard their cell phones, have come to some consensus that they are also photographers. If they are willing to share why shouldn’t everyone? This is indeed a moral dilemma of the ages. Surely we don’t want to suppress ideas, which is the very essence of the internet. But how do we as a civilized world society compensate our great visionaries and artists so that they can feed their families and pay their mortgages? What happens when they all say “screw it” and stop performing? I have had my work used without compensation in promotional social business media with copyright info removed. I’ve even filed a complaint through direct Facebook channels to no avail. There are people that have a vague notion what copyright actually means…. is it something like “copy writing”?
A few years ago photographers weren’t too worried about low res 72 dpi images because “real” advertising was done in print media, and only high resolution versions would work. Today much of our business is done on line. The value of low-res images is as commercially viable as high-res images. I don’t know the answer to the problem. I just know that it is huge and is effecting everyone of us trying to earn a living with our craft. Maybe our legal system is so consumed with other dilemmas that it’s easier to just put our collective heads in the sand until the social pendulum swings out of control. I would like to believe that there are creative legal minds out there smarter than me that can and will sort this problem out for all of our sakes.