Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Get Permission - A Tale of Two Photographs (Please Don't Steal!)

Yesterday I was flipping through a local newspaper, and right on the third page in an advertisement was a photograph of mine. I recognized it right away. The problem? I didn't give the advertiser or newspaper permission to use it.

Stolen! My photograph was taken and used for someone else's benefit without my consent, knowledge or any compensation. I wasn't even given attribution. The person who took it and used it is a thief.
Red Field, Green Field - Tehachapi, California
This is the photograph that was stolen.
Today I received an e-mail from Alien Skin asking if they could use one of my photographs for the banner on their YouTube channel. They asked for permission before ever using it. "I love the play on color in this one," said Jimmy Beech of the marketing and tutorial departments.

Alien Skin was not going to provide financial compensation, but they included links to this blog and my Flickr page and attributed the image to me. "I want to make sure that you, the photographer, gets all the credit," Beech said.
Gold Above The Valley - Stallion Springs, California
This is the photograph that was used by Alien Skin.
What's the difference between these two stories? Why am I upset that one person used my photograph and happy that the other one did? It's a matter of courtesy. It's a matter of the law and rights.

I can give away anything of mine that I'd like to wherever I wish. If I'm feeling generous perhaps I might give away something of value to a friend. But it is a completely different story if a stranger breaks into my home and takes something that I don't want them to have.

The odds are that this is not the first time a photograph of mine has been stolen. It has likely happened several times already. I just don't know about it. Stealing a photograph off of the internet is no different than going into a stranger's garage and taking their tools. It's theft. It's illegal. It's wrong.

On the other hand, it is amazing what simply asking will get you. You want to use a photograph of mine? Ask me. I might be feeling generous and I might say yes. Do it the right way, please.

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