Ever since I began blogging (July of 2005) I’ve used photos in my blog entries. Now I will be the first to admit that in my early blogging days I used a lot of photos I had no business using. I didn’t credit where I got them most of the time and I almost never asked permission. Social media hadn’t quite exploded the way it has now and a lot of us were feeling our way around without a clue about how we should or shouldn’t do things. But once I got that clue, I incorporated it into my blog. I don’t use photos unless the photographer notes folks can use the photos, I’ve asked for permission to do so or unless I know they are public domain and I yell at those online (including an alarming number of folks who are professionals and work at places like NESN.com) and go out of my way to promote stories that explain WHY taking someone’s photos without permission is wrong.
I’m very comfortable sitting up here on my high horse…how is the weather down there?
Wait a minute…not so fast, Donnelly.
It isn’t fun when the universe decides it has had quite enough of my attitude and kicks me in the teeth. I received a very pleasant email yesterday from a talented artist named Leslie Hawes, the crux of which was pretty much “I noticed you used my photo on your blog, could you please remove it?”
The donkey photo wasn’t hers; hers was a photo of a noisemaker. (Really a photo of a drawing of a noisemaker that is so good I had no idea it was a drawing.) But this is all way more information than you need.
I felt awful. I mean it’s bad enough to be a hypocrite but to be called out so nicely…well; I really did feel like a jackass. So I responded with my apologies for being a jerk and an assurance that I’d certainly take down the photo. In the seven years I’ve been doing this, I’ve been asked three times to remove a photo. The first time was from a representative of Kerry Brett when I used a photo she had taken of Josh Beckett. It was a very popular photo online long before I used it and when I responded that of course I would take it down the representative thanked me for being so cooperative, telling me she was getting resistance from other blog owners. The only other time before yesterday was from someone on Flickr who took exception to one of his photos being used for a vanity project I had put together with some friends over on Blogger. Let’s just say, even though we had credited him, he didn’t enjoy our LOLcatting adorable pictures of Kyle Snyder as much as we did. (And we took the photo down immediately.)
I mention those other instances because the reaction to my saying “Sure I’ll take it down” was the same then as it was with Ms. Hawes yesterday, one of surprise that the process was so simple. So now I’m reminded of how infuriating people can be when you deal with them through the Internet. In the “real” world no person would walk into an art gallery, stand in front of a painting and let people assume he (or she) was the artist but people do pretty much just that every day online. Okay, so let’s say you are annoying enough in real life to try and take credit for something someone else did (or, at the very least, let people assume the credit goes to you because you haven’t told them anything different), if the person whose work you pilfered called you on it to your face, you would stop. It seems that isn’t always the case online. Why would anyone do anything other than say “Oh, that photo is yours and I pilfered it? I’m sorry and I’ll take it down right away!”?
I happily took down Ms. Hawes’ photo and I replaced it with a link to her blog…but the entry is over two years old so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone today: Give her a link on a current entry (it’s really the least I can do) and take the opportunity to, once again, remind folks that asking for permission and giving credit for photos you use online is not only a simple thing to do but the right (and, frankly, legal) thing to do.
I’ll jump off my soapbox now.
One baseball-related item today: If Kevin Youkilis signs with the Yankees I’m going to need something I can smash into a million pieces with his autographed baseball bat.