Stealing Online Photos

“That’s my photo.”
Photo: Nonqaba waka Msimang.

That is a cry from most photographers when they see how their work has been re-engineered or packaged into a montage to sell a product, a website or a concept.
The © copyright symbol is well understood internationally, but seemingly it doesn’t apply to photographic work, where a photographer goes to Banff, Canada and captures on film, a unique moment or nature in transition.

The only way he can protect that copyright is to keep the image in his camera and not post it on his blog or share it on any other platform.  That defeats the purpose of taking pictures doesn’t it?
Photoshop is a photographer’s virus that devours the right to ownership.  The advent of the internet has increased plagiarism, whereby writers steal a paragraph here or a whole article there and pretend they wrote it.  It is plagiarism when the few are caught.  Not with photographers.  It is open season.  If it is online, it is free popcorn.

Opening my computer depresses me because Microsoft welcomes me with images taken by unidentified photographers.  Photograph is even a misnomer because it might be four unrelated photos, blended into one family thanks to photoshop.  It might be the top of Mount Fuji in Japan, the Canadian Rockies, a rock formation in some part of the world and a river with blue waters.
Who took the pic?  That is an important question that should be answered and accredited, because it is part of capitalism’s brick and mortar.  You develop a concept.  The marketplace accepts it. You get paid for it.  It applies to drugs.  Someone or a pharmaceutical company develops a drug and gets a patent for it.

The patent expires and anybody can manufacture it under a different name.  You know it because the pharmacy/drug store asks you if you want the original or generic drug.  Not with photographers.  The internet has emasculated them.  They have no rights whatsoever.
Not every photo will generate income for the photographer, but it should be compulsory to identify photoshopped photos the same way we identify generic drugs.  PTS.  That should be the abbreviation Microsoft, Pinterest and other electronic giants use when they re-engineer photos.
Failure to do so is plain theft, like insider trading on the stock exchange.

By:  Nonqaba waka Msimang.


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