July 4th and stolen photography

Long Beach, NY taken by Alyson Goodman. All rights reserved.A Happy Independence Day to all who celebrate. May your day be filled with sun (unless you are on Long Island like me), sand, beer, burgers and fireworks!

I had all intention of just making this a quick Fourth of July post, until I came across an image on Facebook this morning, the above image to be exact. I took this photo 3 years ago, before Hurricane Sandy came and destroyed the Long Beach boardwalk. The flags were out for a September 11th ceremony from the day before. It is crazy how sometimes you can look at a photo and remember everything about when the photo was taken. The City of Long Beach, which I am a resident of posted this graphic to celebrate the day:

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I noticed the photo and thought, hey that looks familiar and then decided to do some sleuthing, because when you originally wanted to be a lawyer before switching your major in college to art, you can’t give up that investigation love that is still in you. By going through the file info the raw data gave it all away, down to the exact second that I made the save on all my edits. I cropped it to around the same way they cropped it and it matches up. The four dots on the bottom left give it away as well as the piece sticking out of the garbage can along the bottom.

As a graphic designer I’ve always had the thought of stolen creations in the back of my mind. Unless you actually pay to copyright everything, you are really stuck if someone passes off your stuff as their own. I’ve had it years back when I was running a different website, any creation you have is basically up for grabs now thanks to search engines and you are going to have stuff stolen. I’ve seen my images repined on Pinterest and sometimes they link back to this site or my Flickr account and other times they don’t. You can contact Pinterest, you can lodge complaints, but unfortunately it is really your word against no one if you don’t have the copyright license. I wrote a post on here a few years back about my love/hate relationship with We Heart It where I wrote that I understand that things are going to get taken, its the nature of the world we live in now, but just give credit. We spend time making creations, taking photos and editing them, that asking for a little credit line in my opinion isn’t asking that much.

So where do I go from here? Do I never post a photo on Flickr again and hurt myself by not putting my stuff out there? My Flickr options from the beginning have been set to not allow people to download my images, but for the web you can easily steal their biggest web sized image and work with it. I’ve had photos stolen off of Instagram and passed off as someone else’s, but that hasn’t stopped me from posting or locking my account. The good thing with Instagram is that photo is so tiny at 72 dpi that it really can’t be used anywhere else. And if you think you have a leg to stand on and try to fight Instagram, I’ll let you know that you do not, I’ve tried and the only thing I can do is block the person who stole my images. I looked into an email to write to the City of Long Beach just to inquire, but of course they don’t have any way of contacting them except with a phone number. If they want to take my photo and use it for a graphic, it is okay, but just say photo taken by or image from. I’d prefer a nicer looking job done graphic-wise, but the is just the graphic designer in me. I’ve seen the city give credit before on Facebook for photographers, if you do it once, than you have to do it for all.

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