Does it matter? What has it got to do with the average blogger?
There is no ‘average’ blogger though is there?
I’ve read a couple of blogs recently discussing the use of copyright on photographs.
It’s not a new issue, it used to come up years ago on dogblogs when people added a brief © and their name, or their website, or just a few initials (as I do).
We all think our own dog/s is/are the most beautiful one/s in the world and would not want some sneaky toerag to lift our photos to add to a calendar or an advert. Chances of it happening are extremely slim, but there is more to it than that.
Me being Ms Ethics and Ms Principles, the reason I copyright photos is to make an extremely simple statement.
Not ‘I think my photos are brilliant, so please don’t steal them’ – because if someone wanted to do that, they could get rid of the text anyway. But because some people make money out of photography. It is their living. I do not make money out of my photos, but for every free photo that is taken and distributed, some professional photographer, somewhere, is not making money. Simple.
And, the discussions I have read recently about adding a copyright statement were on photoblogs.
People complain that it is intrusive and takes away from the photo. If you have a painting by a famous artist do you complain that the signature takes away from that work of art? OK, so it may not be slapped right across the middle of the painting, but signing one’s work off is hardly new.
Another apparently deemed it as advertising. I couldn’t get my head around that. How can you advertise on your own blog? That struck me as a particularly stupid point.
Copyright was one of those topics that we learned about at journalism college. Must have been the law component, but anyway, I paid attention to it because it was interesting. At the time, there was a neat divide. Staff photographers on newspapers did not own the copyright to their photos, the newspaper did. Anything taken privately was separate. And clearly self-employed photographers owned the copyright to their work.
While the law has changed since then, the basic principle is still the same, although self-employed photographers may now be asked to waive the rights to their photos by publishers hoping to cash in on later sales from a decent pic.
But if you are not a professional photographer, and someone uses your photo without your permission and without paying you, do you care? No, probably not. If you ever find out, you may even feel flattered. Hell, it cost you nothing to take, someone thinks it’s good enough to steal, so what’s your loss? How about if they are making money out of it? Still think the same way? Maybe, after all, not your job, so not important.
But for some of us, it is our job. Photography, writing, art. Those sort of useless jobs that everyone can do. Never mind that people have gone to college, trained for years, and passed exams in these areas.
In my case, (BI ie Before Internet) it was freelance journalists who got up my nose. Someone wanting to write the odd column every week, no training, no knowledge of law or newspapers, and a bit of pin money to eke out whatever else they received an income from.
There are plenty of good amateur writers and photographers out there. I’m not denying that for a minute. But there are also people trying to make a living out of their skill and expertise in those fields.
Adding copyright to your photos, or your blog pages isn’t pretentious. It’s reminding people that while everything on the internet may be freely accessible, it isn’t up for grabs. You don’t take anyone else’s work without a) asking and b) preferably paying for it.
Which raises the question of re-blogging, but brunch calls.
In the meantime, there is an excellent site called the UK Copyright Service which explains far more than I can, and I daren’t steal their work – obviously.
Luckily they provide a neat HTML link and point out that I don’t need permission to use it. I wasn’t aware permission was needed for links – but who knows??
Top 10 Copyright Myths page from UK Copyright Service.