How Rampant Online Piracy Squashed One Insect Photographer


eugenedw's picture

Well, he gets this one thing right, anyway:

"For practical purposes, the Internet has become a copyright-free zone."

---This may or may not be a good thing, but it is what it is. Adapt or die.

A few other things in the article caught my eye:

"My most chronically infringed images, to the extent I can trace their history, are usually taken from the sites of high-profile clients, rather than my own."

---In other words, he has already sold these images. Why should he have some sort of fundamental right to sell the same image over and over and over? Perhaps he should accept that photos are actually just not worth all that much.

"But I can’t teach and photograph at the same time,..."
"You will never see their efforts online, though, because fear of infringement keeps many of them from uploading."

---And this is simply nonsense. As it happens, I am a member of a Facebook group for insect photography. Every single day, members there post absolutely breathtaking, professional-quality photos that they took themselves. Some of them are professional photographers, others are hugely accomplished amateurs. Either way, having a job does not prevent them from having time for their hobby, and the fact that anyone can download their work does not prevent them from freely posting it anyway.

In short, if some photographer decides not to share his work because he worries I might download it, that is too bad for him. I don't care, because there's plenty more, all over the web, the vast bulk of it not images "stolen" from professionals, but uploaded freely by the creators.

I happen to be an amateur artist, and I make much use of reference photos. In cases where I don't take my own, I get plenty from the web, without having to "steal" anyone's work - there are nowadays vast libraries of copyright-free reference photos available for artists, specifically created for this purpose by photographers who want to freely share their work.

Similarly, YouTube is overflowing with the work of musicians who voluntarily and freely share their work. And I have a suspicion that it is this bounty of generosity that is killing some (but by no means all) of the professionals out there.

Anyway, giving lessons in photography is a perfectly noble thing to do. It might not be as much fun as getting paid for your hobby, but then, who says we have an inherent right to make a living off our hobbies?

It is not clear what this photographer would want in the place of what we have now, but it seems to me that what he envisions is a veritably nightmarish world, in which everyone on the web lives in perpetual fear of accidentally "stealing" someone's picture, and then getting their pants sued off, and in which creators are constantly scouring the web, looking for thieves.

Who the hell can live like that? Not me anyway.

KenK's picture

I think that is why he took a paying gig rather than continue with that situation, which for someone who needs to earn a living is probably the best choice to make.