Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sharing art on the web: a bit of warning

You think because in all the art & photography places on the web I know there are "share" buttons next to the artwork you are welcome to press them? Think again.


It is natural to human beings to share their experience - that's how our civilisation happened. In old days you might show your favourite book to your friends, now you share stuff on line. That's often how people find out about artists new to them. As an artist I'm always very happy when this occur to my work. To my surprise I realised that not all artists are like this. You may think if somebody has a nickname LadySomething and does nice pictures there is a nice polite person on the other end. It may not be the truth. After pressing that highly visible "share" button you may end up threatened and offended by something who actually things that sharing is "using" and even "stealing" their artwork. And you thought you did GOOD to the artist, help them spread the message, etc. If you hate conflicts as I do you may even loss your sleep for a couple of nights if you get "i report you!!!" "DO NOT USE any other my work there!" " i didnt asked your help!" "This has not been done with my permission and there is no credit for the image posted on the site (Although I will allow that the image is linked to the original) Doing this has removed the watermark of the image from the image and is in direct violation of my copyright. Please ensure that this image is removed from this site with immediate effect"  "It is normal to ask for permission which is sometimes granted to reproduce images but this is only allowed with proper acreditation and watermarking." "i'm feed up with user who "share my works with the world" without asking me and my permission and uses my works below his/her name and sometimes earn money/points/credits/admission with them!!! so they stole! pitiable!!!" (and  a nice "Please, viste my gallery Thanks :)"  - after that!) 


I do feel pity for artists of this kind as it may be very difficult to live with such an attitude that everybody is trying to steal from them. People mostly just LIKE somebodies artwork and it's a nice reason to be happy and get on with you life rather than be angry, chase innocent people across the Internet, threaten and wrongly accuse them. This won't help with sales either.

On one occasion I contacted a site administration with that question: "Is there any single rule on whether people are allowed to share images (with links to the originals) on social media e.g. Tumblr, Facebook or Pinterest? I know lots of people do this and I know that a small number of artists is getting very angry about this but I can't find anything about the situation in FAQ."

The reply was as follows: "Our artists retain 100% of the copyrights for their images. If you would like to use any images, other than purchasing a printed product for personal enjoyment, you will have to contact the artist directly for their permission, as we do not have the right to give permission for the artists using our service. You will find their public contact information on their user page but please note, the artist decides what information is available to the public, and we are unable to give out any personal information."

How it is possible to have a "share" button next to each artwork if  "you will have to contact the artist directly for their permission"? I realise that it is a common problem with many artists sites but as an artist and a consumer I would like to have an absolute clarity on that. Why not give that "share" button only to artists who want they work to be shared and prevent other images to be shared at all? Otherwise people will end up doing something they think they ARE ENCOURAGED TO DO and then have angry artists chasing after them. I hope it all will be sorted out somehow because at the moment there is a big lie in the air and this is disgusting.

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