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Thursday, 25 September 2014


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I still remember whilst skimming through a local guidebook in a bookshop, I came across a photograph that seemed strangely familiar. On closer examination there were quite a few others that were quite familiar too.

The author it seems had spent quite a lot of time right clicking on various pages in my Blog.

I sent the obligatory Email to the publishers, who apologised , in a roundabout way told me they never paid for photography and relied on “donated photographs” to illustrate their books. They then laid the blame on the author who had told them that he had taken the photographs.

The author was an ex Vice Mayor of a nearby city.

What do you do? Start a legal action over a modest sum of money that I should have been paid? The time wasted alone would not make it worthwhile.

Unfortunately, I think if you post pictures on the web, you just have to live with the fact that they will get used without payment. But then I do not make a living with photography.

Well, as the author himself said, the Internet has won, and in combination with digital photography, photography is as ubiquitous and valuable as a grain of rice. I still dream of the days when I earned decent money from stock and magazine publishing. Now you'll have to pay to be published (At least if you count in the cost of running a professional photography business).

I know a professional portrait photographer who's stuck with ten year old equipment. He lost his print business because most people make the prints for themselves. They buy one print, then scan it at home and make copies for friends and relatives. The average local camera club members have ten times the equipment he can afford, and they are starting to steal his business too by doing portraits for free, or very little money. Many of them don't make bad portraits either. At the same time people are changing and portraits aren't as higly regared as they used to be in a time where there are more selfies being published in a day than there are images in the Getty stock collection.

As for myself, I saw the writing on the wall ten years ago and pursued a career in finance to afford the photography lifestyle. Ironically I don't have time to photograph anymore, but at least I have TOP to read with my morning coffee.

This is a damned shame. I know you don't appreciate insect photos, but Alex Wild is one of--if not the--best working today. He's been an inspiration (and occasional frustration) to my own work.


This seemed relevant to the theme of this post:

Excellent piece from a real master of insect photography. Anyone interested in the genre should also look up Igor Siwanowicz. I can't say I ever looked twice at a bug photo until I saw his.

I can't get a handle on what changes in copyright law the author thinks would help. Make it easier and cheaper to litigate? Stiffer punishments for infringers?

It's not at all obvious to me that there's anything that will actually make the situation better.

Sad story. ( I found the article even though the link just linked back to TOP.)

Mr Wild's article explains pretty much why I make photographs for pleasure only.

And, I'll recall one personal incident. Several years ago, before I retired from my last career in civil service, we had a summer intern in our office who did filing and made phone calls for us. He was a freshman in college if I remember correctly. One day he was filing in my office and saw the photographs on my wall and commented about how he liked photography. I asked about his own photography and he said that he actually wasn't a photographer, he just liked images and liked using them for presentations. He said he works for his church, putting together slide presentations. He said this was good part time work as he had done several statewide slide show presentations in various churches and church affiliated conventions. He said he got all his photos from Flickr and other photo hosting sites. He downloaded music from sites on the web to accompany the slides as well.

I didn't say anything. I realized this is the dominant attitude today concerning everything on the internet. Nothing has value because it's free for the taking.

Which is why most of my images are not on the internet! I wonder how many internet businesses would fail if they did not have access to free art for the taking. Thanks for posting it though the link did not click through. But searching the title on google did find it.

The author of the piece, Alex Wild, is one of the finest insect photographers in the world. It's not a genre that appeals to everyone, but if you have an interest in macro photography or the smaller forms of wildlife, his work is well worth a look. In addition to his photographic skills, he's a Ph.D. entomologist. A significant part of the value of his work is the accurate identification of the species photographed and explanations of the behaviors. If you have any interest in this, and perhaps even if not, check out his website, myrmecos.net or his gallery at alexanderwild.com

The Ars Technica URL is mis-formed, the browser thinks it's part of your site.

Link is broken, Mike:


The link appears damaged. Ie. it doesn't work on my ipad.

The link in the article is broken. The correct link is: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/09/one-mans-endless-hopeless-struggle-to-protect-his-copyrighted-images/

This is very depressing to me. Another example of the continuing devaluation of photography. Mr Wild has been one of my favorite insect photographers and certainly one of the world's best. I don't really think copyright law changes will make any difference. People will continue to rip artists off and often believe they have every right to do so. I wish him all the best at his new academic position.

"I can't get a handle on what changes in copyright law the author thinks would help. Make it easier and cheaper to litigate? Stiffer punishments for infringers?"

In my opinion, the appropriate change is clear. Make copyright infringement a criminal offense. Jail time as punishment. And ensure that it's prosecuted, not ignored, with mandatory minimum sentences. A much better use of the "criminal justice system's" resources than that stupid "war on drugs."

I don't have any images on the Internet either.

So... show the lowest resolution images on the web as is practical without providing realistically "useable" for much else beyond a phone screen (and possibly put up a registration/verification service to the higher resolution images) and/OR sell very high quality prints (remember those?) from your portfolio. You know.. sort of like TOP.


Mike, while I am beating myself up big time over this same issue there is a photographer who started when I did, about 8 years ago, now employs 12 people, has approximately 5 million Google + followers, is I understand one of the highest earning photographers and has achieved this success via the internet. His business model includes offering full res photos for free to non business users under creative commons licencing. This I understand results in substantial commercial requests for licensing. His processing and HDR are often grossly over the top, but the undiscerning eye of the masses seem to love it. In this Youtube link, from 9 minutes on, you can see him making the commercial case for big and free. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_jhzUZQdNY&feature=g-upl

Great to see you in your new home, all the very best.


Copyright law was never intended for you and me. The only user that law makers had in mind were corporations.

Sadly, for our lawmakers, the idea that an individual might create anything of relevance seems to be too absurd. Idividuals are (potentially infringing) consumers, corporations are seen as the creators of everything, wo deserve all attention and care.

As we speak, you can go to eBay anf by a 5x7 ptint of one of my photographs. Unfortunately, I have no idea who the seller is, and have never spoken to him nor given consent. Worse, he's only asking $4 for the print, which I find highly insulting.

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