The comments left on Sonia Zjawinski’s NYT blog post run about 54-2 eviscerating Ms. Zjawinski for advising New York Times readers to steal photos from random Flickr users. Since yesterday when I read this article (and tweeted about it), there were about 23 comments, at this moment, the count is 58. Ms. Zjawinski has added a couple of paragraphs claiming that stealing photos from strangers is akin to watching Lost on your TiVo. Umm, not quite, not quite. What editor let such an inane article be published?
I sift through Flickr on a regular basis for images to use as visuals for my blog posts. As with most things related to the Web, it’s easy to get sidetracked with not-so-work-related search terms like, “kittens” and “vintage bicycles.” Through these bouts of procrastination, I’ve often found stunning photographs, so much so I’ve gotten in the habit of printing faves out and framing them. If a user offers the original resolution for download, don’t let that go to waste. Download, print, frame!
And if you’re wondering about copyright issues (after all, these aren’t my photos), the photos are being used by me for my own, private, noncommercial use. I’m not selling these things and not charging admission to my apartment, so I think I’m in the clear.
Of all the artwork I have in my studio apartment (there isn’t a bare wall in the house), my Flickr finds get the most attention. Best of all, they were practically free! I use a Kodak ESP7 AIO printer to ink my finds on various sizes of photo paper and frame them in inexpensive frames found at Urban Outfitters or Ikea. The only thing I pay for is ink, paper and frames — peanuts, in my opinion.
[Click to read Flickr as an Interior Decorating Tool – Gadgetwise Blog – NYTimes.com and comments]
yesterday evening, the following statement was appended:
UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: Added sentences acknowledging the controversy surrounding the use and reuse of other people’s content on the Internet; also indicated forthcoming post that will address these issues more directly.
I still don’t think Ms. Zjawinski understands copyright, or is able to read Flickr’s Terms of Service. Ironic, in that The New York Times vigorously defends itself from being copied, and is publicly irritated with Google over Google’s linking procedures. I guess different rules apply to the corporate citizen than the private citizen.
Each Flickr user can set their default privacy settings, not that these settings really deter the determined thief like Ms. Zjawinski:
When people are looking at the main display page for one of your photos or a video (e.g.), they will see a button labeled “all sizes” underneath the title. From there, they can download any of the different sizes available, including the original file, unless you choose to prevent it.
Preventing people from downloading something also means that a transparent image will be positioned over the image on the main photo page, which is intended to discourage* people from right-clicking to save, or dragging the image on to their desktop.
If people are unable to access a photo or video of yours — for example if you’ve marked it as private — they won’t be allowed to download the original either.
People with free accounts aren’t able to offer their original files for download.
[From Flickr: Allowing Downloads]
What clueless mongoloid idiots like Sonia Zjawinski don’t realize is that most photographers on Flickr would willingly share their images, if only asked. She should annotate all the images she stole from Flickr users with the name of the artist, title, and perhaps the URL. For me, nearly every time someone has asked to use my photo, I have agreed. Commercial usages: I ask for a fee of some sort, but non-commercial usages? Usually no problem. However, in my mind, printing out an image is akin to commercial usage. Here’s what my Flickr profile says:
You are welcome to use my photos/images on your website or blog post, but please give proper attribution. I’d prefer if you also left me a comment telling me where you are using my image.
If you want to use a photo of mine in your magazine, book, or other printed use, contact me: I have a high resolution Photoshop image on my computer. Rates negotiable.
I wrote a letter to Assistant Managing Editor Michelle McNally who oversees photography for The New York Times
Dear Ms. McNally,
As a long time subscriber to the New York Times, and a long time Flickr user, I am extremely disappointed in the apparent advocacy of photography theft suggested by Sonia Zjawinski. Is this really the policy The New York Times is suggesting to its readers? Ms. Zjawinski needs to be forced to attend an Intellectual Property workshop, perhaps one conducted by NYT in-house counsel. Or else fired.
A Flickr friend left this comment:
I’m also an attorney licensed to practice in three states, and can assure you that what you are advocating is not permissible under U.S. Copyright law. The photographer typically owns the copyright on any photograph she takes (provided it was taken after January 1, 1978), with certain limited exceptions. One thing to remember is a copyright is not a singular right, but rather a collection of rights regarding distribution, licensing and use.
The U.S. Copyright Office reminds you – “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”
Ask before you take. It’s not just polite, it’s the law.
[From Flickr as an Interior Decorating Tool – Gadgetwise Blog – NYTimes.com]
and there is also this response
That’s right, in a recent column, NY Times ‘writer’ Sonia Zjawinski advocates her readers steal your photos from flickr to fill up empty space on their walls
I highly encourage you all to comment on the article letting Sonia know what you think about her advice.
You could also ask the Time’s Assisting Managing Editor if this is the official policy of the paper or a practice she endorses.
get on it people!
and please…by all means, copy this image and as much of the text as you want for your own personal use.
update: the photo editor of the NYT responds –
Flickr Images and Copyright
Q. Do you endorse the view of Sonia Zjawinski that it is perfectly acceptable to steal copyrighted images from the Internet? Do you think it’s a good idea for The New York Times to seemingly endorse such views by publishing them? Or do you think it is as disgusting and outrageous as I do?
— Rod Irvine
A. I have received a number of queries about Ms. Zjawinski’s recent post on Gadgetwise, a New York Times blog about personal technology, in which she discussed downloading and printing Flickr images for use as home décor. Here is where The Times stands on the issues that have been raised about the post:
We are strong proponents of copyright protection. The New York Times does not endorse, nor is it our policy to engage in, the infringement of copyrighted work. We apologize for any suggestion to the contrary.