Friday, March 11, 2011

The Stolen Scream

The Stolen Scream: A Story About Noam Galai from FStoppers on Vimeo.

Everyone who puts their work online must have, at some point, thought about what they would do if it was stolen. For example, my first reaction would be to send a nasty email, probably threatening litigation, followed by a nasty letter, also threatening litigation. Would it help? Probably not. But it would make me feel a lot better.

Having seen this, I'm curious what I would do in Mr. Galai's position. On the one hand, it is impressive that his image is being used as a rallying cry for all of these people - and for that I would be flattered. But would my tendency to be self-righteous and indignant alienate all those people as well? Maybe taking some time to step back and consider how the image is being used - and the value and purpose of art - would be a much more appropriate action.

But, for all those people making money off an image that isn't theirs - putting it on a T-shirt, the cover of a book, a poster, etc: Fuck you. You and people like you are the reason the internet isn't a more vibrant community of sharing and joy. You have killed the dream.

Realistically, every website that allows an artist to upload their images has some sort of way to protect them. Deviantart has awful, hideous watermarks; Flickr lets you disable downloads; Redbubble does both. I understand how an image could be stolen and used on another website under a different user, and that is pretty bad. But how does someone steal an image from the web with sufficient quality to print? If you're making a poster or a T-shirt, 400x600 pixels at 72 dpi is not going to cut it! I can't understand what the upside to putting a full-size image on the web is - it'll take forever to load, the potential for theft is great, and downsizing before uploading is so easy to do.

Every day, I read a different story about someone's work being stolen, either with or without credit, and used for something ridiculous. The solution is simple: People, stop stealing artwork!

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