Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Photos Posted in Public Are Not Necessarily Free to Use, Obviously

Max Dubler, PetaPixel:

I don’t put huge watermarks in the middle of my photos or charge individual skaters to use them on social media because skaters are mostly broke teenagers, watermarks ruin the picture and don’t stop people from stealing your photos, and I make an okay living from freelance work and my steady gigs. The second-hand stoke is enough of a reward for me. I do charge for-profit companies a fee to use my photos because they are making money off my work. This is a pretty straightforward distinction.

A few days ago an established, successful small longboard brand downloaded one of my pictures from an event in Canada and posted it to their Instagram account.

In the previously-linked article about Instagram-friendly restaurants, Casey Newton of the Verge writes:

Nearly everyone in photos posted from The Riddler looks as if they are having the time of their life. It’s hard to imagine a better advertising campaign; indeed, most of the photos on The Riddler’s own Instagram account were first posted by customers.

I frequently see big-name musicians, personalities, and businesses taking users’ photos and republishing them, often with little more than a username-mentioning credit, as though Instagram were the world’s largest royalty-free stock photo library. I’m sure there are plenty of people who are cool with this — which is why the Creative Commons license and other “copyleft” schemes exist — but permission still needs to be granted first. Businesses love when their customers do their marketing for them; that doesn’t mean that anything those customers do or say with the business in mind is automatically the property of that business.