Like a fool, earlier this summer I decided to start following up with for-profit companies and individuals who were using my photos for free, some of them for years at a time. (I have no idea why I didn’t do this during our amazingly rainy winter and spring, but, alas, I waited for the good weather to begin this project.) Although I had occasionally exchanged emails with some prior infringers, I hadn’t launched any sort of full-scale email campaign, which is what I’ve been up to (other than my Crater Lake workshop) over nearly the past month.
So, rather than going outside into the bright sunshine and enjoying my summer (or at least getting some much-needed yard work done), I’m scouring the Internet, drafting emails, and then replying (and replying and replying) to reply emails.
Although I’ve had a couple of reasonably pleasant experiences in dealing with infringers, for the most part it’s a little like going down the rabbit hole into a universe where culpability doesn’t exist, where copyright theft is committed by no-longer-with-us interns, rogue website builders, or just people who don’t want to take a few seconds to see if the image that they want to prominently place on their website’s home page may in fact actually be copyrighted. The same excuses keep cropping up over and over again until you know how the infringers will reply before they even reply. It’s disheartening, to say the least, and an activity not unlike reading the comments on news stories online: If your faith humanity has been shaken, you’re not going to re-solidify your faith here.
This accountability blitz started when, after reviewing some records, I realized that I haven’t licensed much imagery in the past year. Weird, I thought to myself, maybe no one really is interested in using my photos to promote their business anymore. Of course, a quick google search immediately proved that to not be the case. Instead, what people wanted was to use my photos without paying for them, a subtle but important distinction.
In the past, I’ve been criticized by members of the photography community for placing watermarks on my photos. As a result, I’ve spent way more time than I should’ve trying to find a balance between making sure that my copyright can be seen and trying not to make it obtrusive. It’s not easy. And believe me, I would rather not mark them at all, but with “I didn’t know it was copyrighted” being such a rampant excuse for theft, it seems more necessary than ever.
What’s most surprising, to me anyway, is the members of the creative community who have used my photo to promote their services. As someone who creates and uses my own music on my website, blog, and videos, I’ll never understand that.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes.
“Against the night”
I took this vertical panorama this spring, with my full-spectrum Canon 6D and a Rokinon 35 mm f/1.4 lens. This is a total of 6 shots, 3 focus-stacked and 3 for vertical height, each taken at ISO 6400 for 15 seconds. (My aperture was unrecorded, although it was probably either f/2 or f/2.8.) I panned upward using my Nodal Ninja 4, which I love. The photo was taken in southern Utah.