14 Days to Go : © Is there anything else you want to add?

I have just completed an in depth annual survey for the nice EPUK people. (photo organisation)

One of the main topics this year was copyright.

After just ordering some seemingly amazing walkie talkies for South Africa so that we can communicate car to car <> now is a good time to put across my views on copyright.

For those unaware, should your three year old child draw a bit of scribble on a piece of paper with a crayon, the law currently protects your offspring’s work. It’s called COPYRIGHT – look it up on wiki or something.

In a culture where everyone wants to be on Big Brother and become famous, people like to contribute to such organisations like the BBC with pictures when it is snowing or a news event happens outside their house for no money at all. Facebook bragging and travelling on the ego trip that they have had THIER image published on the BBC website is utterly wrong.

It’s NOT about the poor photographer being ‘done’ by someone with a snap happy camera – I say well done for a nice snap.

It’s wrong because the public are blissfully unaware of their rights and the value of their work.

We do not live in a communist state, therefore there is a price for everything.

What would the parents of their son say if their son’s scribble be the subject of an ad campaign worth £17,000? How would they feel then?

How would you feel if when you submitted your images to a travel holiday picture competition that in the terms and conditions the organisers get to use your image for FREE and save thousands of pounds on their picture buying budget? – YES, that picture of a wooden boat in Menorca, Spain could have paid for your next three holidays.

I have many friends in the music business. Music is more of a living breathing being than a picture though.

If I was a musician I would not mind my songs being copied as it opens people up to your work and you simply charge more for concerts and gigs. Lilly Allen is a prime example, an unknown whose work spread through the internet.

Some rock bands open encourage the recording of concerts to help spread the word. I openly admit to downloading unheard tracks or listening to new releases via Spotify but nine times out of ten it results in me not only paying for the original but often more unheard music.

Take my taste in music – well not my taste but more my requirements result in me wanting the original. The track REAL LIFE by Simple Minds has an amazing bass that you simply do not hear on the average Hi-Fi. Crank it up using an ace amplifier and some sub-woofer speakers and the song takes a different direction. As with William Orbit – again sub-bass loops creating a different feel to his work. Music is a picture, you need to hear the top notes as well as the bottom – just like you have to see the top and the bottom to see a complete and full picture

Badly recorded tracks result in the listener not being able to enjoy the full benefits of the artists work. However, they STILL in my opinion encourage the listener to get into their music and attend concerts etc.

Therefore people may think it is OK to steal and rob music, and therefore think it is OK to steal pictures.

Going back to my point, the public still do not appreciate, understand let alone to complying with the copyright act.

Unfortunately with the advent of digital photography the ‘skill’ and ‘trade’ of processing and printing is over and now anyone with a digital camera can compete with the professional.

15 years ago a customer would pay for the skill of the photographer to get a picture to them fast and it would be often personally printed. Members of the general public had to send their snaps off to Truprint and wait a week.

As a consequence the attitude of ‘its only a picture’ seems to be the reply when people get told off for stealing internet images.

There needs to be a radical change in people’s attitudes.

In an age where Polish bus drivers feel threatened with English people wearing English football shirts, you have to call a fat person “heavy set” and when I grew up the playground was full of Joey Deacon remarks, in our society it seems that we have had to learn to accept one another and respect each other more.

However, there is still a complete lack of respect for the value of artwork and a generation who although probably understand the rights and wrongs of robbing from a supermarket have no concern for copying images and republishing them on another website without any acknowledgement, any approval or indeed any payment.

At least when an image was taken from a magazine, you can argue that a photographer had a token payment from the publisher.

Nowadays a photographer who showcases his own work can be the subject of thieving scumbag leaving the poor artist out of pocket.

Although photography is a form of communication, a way of sharing and exposing truths and understanding, in the cold light of day, why should a bloody woman in the USA still be able to house 4 of my pictures of David Beckham on a website?

I was the one who paid to go to Hawaii to go and do a feature on him out of my own money, I am the freelance whose agency tries to sell images to earn a living and I am the one out of pocket. I fail to see why she should still be able to publish and reproducing my work.

Does she go to the supermarket and take what she wants to eat and drink without paying? I doubt it.

People are unaware of image rights – some important clients pay lots of money to ensure they have the exclusive rights to a picture. Our politicians are even worse – during the recent election, SOME AD CAMPAIGNS BROKE THE LAW – but it is not a significant matter to national security, no one died and at the end of the day its just a few people who don’t get paid.

Why do I pay for my car? Because I pay for the material and for the labour, technology and design to make it
Why do I pay for pasta at a supermarket? Because someone make that pasta and the shop ‘sells’ it

So why do people think it is simply OK to steal a picture of David Beckham for their ‘own use’ – a crazy argument which any judge would laugh off if I were to use it as a defence …”Im sorry your honour, but the lawn mower that I took from the mans garden, I was only going to use it to mow my own lawn, it wasn’t as though I was going to start up a lawn moving business and profit from it.”

Thanks to websites like Tineye images are more easily trackable amongst other ways which are best kept secret from the public knowing about!

I have friends who are mechanics – I pay them for their work.
I have friends who make t-shirts – I pay them for their work.
I have friends who design database systems – I pay them for their work.

You get your car stolen – insurance pays up
You get beaten up in a night club – you get compensation

A photographer getting compensation from work being stolen? Yer, Whatever!

Why then is it still ‘culturally’ OK to steal images from websites?

The copyright act needs tightening up, let alone making more relaxed. I’m not into politics much, but Im glad our new government are looking to help us poor photographers and victims of crime.

We have to lock up our work so that the 95% of visitors to our website who are not professional picture buyers do not have the opportunity to get to our work. The words “Look but dont touch” do not ring true in cyberspace.

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