Help yourself, why don’t you?

By | June 10, 2014

A few years ago I took photo of the Cow and Calf Rocks in Ilkley and uploaded it to Flickr. Yesterday I was walking through town and there was the photograph in a shop window with the caption “shop local”.   I walked on down the road and blow me, there is was again, the same picture with the caption “shop local” it’s all over.  The image is clearly being used in a commercial context without regard for copyright.

Now I must stress that this has nothing to do with the local shops or the local business community, I have established that.  I am investigating how prevalent it is that photography on websites like Flickr is increasingly used as a free resource for even big agencies.  It is quite common, it seems, for a design company to download pictures and use them in mock-ups, and worse in the final designs without permission.   Even a mock-up or “comp” is a commercial use and, and by my estimation a breach of copyright.

You can also imagine that this illegal use of copyright material may also have an impact on the people and places shown in the images.  It is not only right that the taker of the photo grants permission but that, where people are shown, respect is shown for the subjects as well.

I’m quite tenacious about these things as someone is about to find out, but on the positive side it has prompted me to think carefully about aspects of privacy and safeguarding in photography and brand promotion.  This thinking and experience will come in useful I am sure.