Creative Credit

Welcome back to the Creative Life Adventure.

This post is basically a rant, and doesn’t apply to the majority of readers, so my apologies up front.

While browsing Twitter recently, I saw a retweet from a writer who included a photograph with her post. Since I’m involved with both writing and photography, I’m always interested in how others combine these two creative pursuits. Imagine my disappointment when the photograph was credited to “Pinterest.” Ouch.

It always surprises me when creatives steal work from other creatives without giving appropriate credit. Clearly, “Pinterest” is not a photographer. I can imagine the author’s argument, an argument used by many copyright infringers: She found an uncredited photograph on Pinterest, therefore it was fair game.

That’s equivalent to saying it’s all right to keep that pile of stolen money you found after a bank robber left it in the street.

Hookah bar in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida
Sure, go ahead and steal it, everyone else has.

Years ago, I lived in Tampa, Florida, and published a photo blog about the experience. I made the mistake of not including a copyright notice on my photographs. These were not exactly magazine-quality photographs, but at the time I was one of the few people actively photo-blogging about the city of Tampa. It wasn’t long before my photographs started showing up in Google Images, Bing, and on other blogs. When the other bloggers acknowledged the work as mine, it wasn’t a big deal. But many simply presented my photos without comment, as if the work was theirs. A photo of a Hookah bar in the historic Tampa neighborhood of Ybor City was especially popular. I eventually deactivated the blog because I got tired of people stealing my photos.

Then there was the time when someone posted an entire series of my photographs on Facebook with the implication he was the photographer. One reason I share photographs on sharing site 500px is that they offer their own watermark option. Of course, there are ways around this, but it discourages the average thoughtless “borrower.”

Photo of Biosphere in Montreal displaying 500px watermark
Screenshot from my 500px page showing the 500px watermark

I’ve never understood what satisfaction someone gets from stealing another person’s work. Apparently, plenty of folks out there disagree with me. So, this is my plea, from one creative person to another. Just because an image, or article, or video, appears on Pinterest or Google or anyplace else doesn’t mean it’s yours to use free (easier said than done, I understand, as even I am guilty of this). Please don’t use another person’s work without proper permission and credit. Better yet, go out and create your own work. You don’t want someone to take credit for your creations, so others deserve the same ethical standard in return.

And while I have nothing against Pinterest, please don’t credit it with creating anything more than a blank wall.

Here endeth the rant.

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