Sunrise / Sunset / Image Theft ???

I’m a bit quick off the mark with the blog posts at the moment, but I follow another blog with a link I thought was worth sharing.

It also begs a question, and I’d be interested in getting opinions.

The link is at the bottom of the page, but before you look, read on…..  This ‘artist’, has culled from Flickr thousands of sunrise, and sunset images – she’s also taken them from other sites, some still show partial watermarks.

She has cropped each image down to what looks like postcard size, so that they only show the sun rising, or setting.  These images have then been curated together to form massive murals of red and other colours, and to be honest, they look quite stunning.

My question is about using other peoples work to create your own – as I notice that her work is copyright to the artist….

Here’s the question……  Is it right that she has curated, and used all these images from Flickr, and other sources, to create a work of art of her own, and to make a profit from it?

I know (as I do use Flickr) that you can set a creative commons licence to images on there, which would allow both private and commercial use.  However, I also know that a lot of people who post on there, use the generic copyright, which does not allow use by anyone else.  Plus, I also see on some of this ladies work, the partial copyright signs that she is cropping.  Shutterstock, and Bigstock are just two of the agencies that I immediately recognise.

Have a read of the page, and please do tell me what you think.

http://www.penelopeumbrico.net/index.php/project/suns/

Here’s a quote from her website:-

Copyrighted Suns / Screengrabs questions the claim of ownership of an image of something that is essentially un-possess-able. I cropped the suns from images of sunsets on stock photography websites that had a ‘watermark’ running through them. I used the descriptive tags of each of the stock images as the titles of each of my cropped ‘watermarked’ suns. The words summarize the collective narratives we weave around it’s setting, and also indicate how much a fragment I am using from each image.

Is not a landscape, un-possess-able (as she puts it), or an image of the stars, or aurora, and does this mean she can use any image she wants – is the fact that the image is cropped make it acceptable to use it?  Does the fact that she adds tags to each of the stock images make it right?

I think not – there is something I find intrinsically uncomfortable with this type of art ‘theft’ – if indeed it is theft….

Your thoughts will be much appreciated.

 

Google vs Getty

The Google / Getty Stock Images Situation

photo

Over the last few weeks, I have closely followed the situation that currently exists between Google, and Getty Images.

It comes almost immediately after the problems with Instagram terms of service – which were re-issued to state that

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy.”

These terms have since been revised, Getty though has continued to broker a deal with Google that seems on the face of it to be totally unreasonable.  On the Google Drive Blog  they announced 5000 new images were to be made available free of charge to Google Drive users.  Create an image on Google Drive, and choose your image to illustrate it.  Whether for personal, or commercial use the images are free.

Where do these images come from?  Well, a lot seem to come from ‘i-stock’ , and others from the Getty/Flickr relationship.

This is a licence deal arranged with Google, through Getty images and iStock RF collections.  There was an initial pool of several thousand images licensed from Getty and iStock RF that are on the Getty platform.

What does this mean – well initially we have seen that some photographers whose images are sourced through Flickr to the Getty RF pool, have received around $12 per image, to have their images on the Google Drive search.  Images which have had the metadata stripped and can therefore not be traced back to the photographer.

So – initially, if you have photos on Flickr, which are currently in the Getty pool, you may find them turning up on Google Drive.. You will know if this has happened, as it will show in the October / November 2012 statements.  The main problem as I see it, is that you have images of people who have signed a model release stating that their image will not be used for certain purposes – but once out in the wild – they could end up anywhere – and the photographer can’t do anything about it.  The Getty contract is suitably vague, and even if you pull out of the programme, you can’t recover images already sold.

There has been another post on the iStock website

“We’ve heard you, and we’ve met with Google and are working with them to refine the implementation which we believe will address some of the concerns raised over the past several days–including copyright ownership.”

Maybe the agreement will be changed.  I’ll be watching to see how this one develops.

SEO – Part deux……

Although there are many sites out there, and people who are willing to sell you their SEO expertise, I’m now of the opinion that with some careful reading, and work on your site, you can improve your ratings immensely.

Keyword research is very important – it acts as a navigator for your site and blog, and allows you to see what items are actually being searched for.  I suggest you head over to Google’s Keyword Tool.   Search each keyword to check how many websites turned out on the search engine result page (SERP) – these are your major competitors.

There are sites that will generate keywords for you, but mostly these are not free…. a good one is Word Tracker – and they do offer a free trial.

As Google Webmaster Tools, crawl the Oaktree site – they are coming up with keywords – and I can now identify these and amend them within the site itself.  I’m slowly amending my keyword page titles, so that the bots can group pages into the correct categories. Search engines will put your keywords in BOLD in the listings, which is good, in that will attract extra attention from people who are searching.

Engines also pay a great deal of attention to inbound links to your site.  I see that Google is already finding a number of links from sites I didn’t realise were linking to mine.  The key here is not to have links from spam sites, or from other low ranking ones, but to have them from credible businesses where-ever possible  – emphasise quality over quantity when you are looking for these.

Lastly in this post, Robots.txt – I noticed this on the Google Webmaster pages. It tells search bots, what to search, and what not to search – it also helps prevent irrelevant items being linked to your own site, which is good.

Don’t forget that people search the web for information, and SEO is only the beginning … I’m moving onwards with this – but for the moment, it’s back to work, taking great images for next year.

Improving your SEO

A couple of weeks ago, I realised that my images were not showing up on Google searches as well as I would have expected.  I’d done a publicity shoot for a theatre, and though the client was pleased with the results, I wanted to publicise those images even more, and drive more traffic through to my website.  A frantic search revealed the odd one, but more from sources that were not mine !

Research through my site host (Zenfolio) showed me that a lot of the tools I needed were already available to me, and there was an excellent tutorial online, which I dutifully worked through.  My hit rate increased almost overnight, but there’s some distance to go yet.

Recently, I shot Keith Lemon in Blackpool, but images didn’t feature in the google search…. today, after 3 days work – it ranked number 1 on the first page….. the two images circled are mine…….

I’ve researched Google Webmaster tools, and Webmaster Bing – and though Oaktree has not yet been crawled by  Bing (they say it can take months sometimes for results to show), I’m hopeful that things will continue to improve.

On that basis, here’s what I’ve learned to improve traffic through the website

1. Add a blog – new content encourages more visits,  and Search Engine Traffic, especially if updated regularly.

2. Use Google Analytics – it’s free, and links in nicely to your site.  Sign up for Google Webmaster tools too.

3. Use lots of keywords – keyword every image on your site (something I’m still working on) and make your keywords relevant.

4. Use headers and footers where-ever you can.

5. Use Meta Tags – a great way to provide search engines with information about their sites. Meta tags can be used to provide information to all sorts of clients.

6. Make Backlinks to your site……..
Backlinks, also known as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, and inward links, are incoming links from outside to your site – if you use firefox, the following may be of interest.

NoDoFollow Add-on for Firefox
Download new NoDoFollow 1.5 plugin by Jayce from here
Install it and restart firefox.
If you want to check a blog is do-follow or no-follow, right click on any part of your webpage in firefox and click NoDoFollow. Do-Follow links turns BLUE and No-Follow turns RED.

Wikipedia has this to say about backlinks….
Search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website has as one of the most important factors for determining that website’s search engine ranking, popularity and importance. Google‘s description of their PageRank system, for instance, notes that Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. Knowledge of this form of search engine rankings has fueled a portion of the SEO industry commonly termed linkspam, where a company attempts to place as many inbound links as possible to their site regardless of the context of the originating site.

Websites often employ various search engine optimization techniques to increase the number of backlinks pointing to their website. Some methods are free for use by everyone whereas some methods like linkbaiting requires quite a bit of planning and marketing to work. Some websites stumble upon “linkbaiting” naturally; the sites that are the first with a tidbit of ‘breaking news’ about a celebrity are good examples of that. When “linkbait” happens, many websites will link to the ‘baiting’ website because there is information there that is of extreme interest to a large number of people.

I’ll be revisiting this again after more research – so you may wish to consider this a “Part 1”

Enjoy your SEO…. !!

Image Credits

From time to time, I’m asked for images, which are to be used for various purposes, such as a blog or calendar – typically these are not for profit, or charity organisations who want a nice image to use.  It usually is a short run of something, or an image for a website, which will be small – and then I’m offered a credit, or link back to my own gallery.  Sometimes I’ll do a trade for goods, or services – such as stationery, or being helped with my SEO (which I’m really bad at….)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes though, I’m asked for images that are to be used by people who will be making money in large quantities, and still want the image for free… usually I won’t have any truck with them.

Lately though, I’ve been asked on more than one occasion for images that I have taken commercially, for commercial use.

A good number of requests come via Flickr – running on the lines of “we think your images are wonderful, and we’d really like to use one on our blog/website/newsletter etc…. however we have a low/zero budget, but we will be prepared to credit you on our site/newsletter whatever…..  ”  Sometimes they even tell me what the print run will be with the image being used, but they still don’t have a budget for it.

Can someone please explain why it is, that these people do have a budget for production, publicity, advertising, printing etc.. but none to get the images in the first place.  So here’s the deal…. it actually costs money to get these pictures.  I have to buy the kit, learn how to use it, buy the computer, the software, the car (to get me to the locations), the fuel to put in it – and all the time it takes me to produce the image at the end… and for what?  A credit, that will simply ‘drive’ traffic through to my website…..

When was the last time you picked up a greetings card or calendar, and was curious enough about the author to look them up on Google, or wherever, and view the rest of their images…???  Some photographers might, but the general public…. I’m not so sure about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the deal is that every time an image is given away for a credit, the market for the legitimate photographer shrinks.  More and more companies are asking for images for free, because to an extent now, they know they can get away with it.  If they can’t get them off me for free, they’ll turn elsewhere… and everytime they get an image it reinforces their mentality.  Image credits don’t put bread on the table on a Friday night.

After all, when was the last time you got diesel for you car, and said, “Hey, I can’t pay you right now, I don’t have a budget for fuel,  but if anyone asks, I’ll tell them I got it from this great garage in Stockport,  just think of all the extra trade you’ll get”….  see what I mean…????

Canon 5D MK1 For Sale – Now Sold

I have a camera body for sale…. the original classic – Canon 5D – full frame.

12.8 MP full frame CMOS sensor
3 fps 60 JPEG image burst
9-point AF with 6 Assist AF points
2.5″ LCD
Picture Style image processing
DIGIC II
Records RAW/JPEG images
Digital Photo Professional software
Compact magnesium alloy body
Connectivity options

Excellent condition – I do look after my kit – always cleaned and serviced.

THIS ITEM IS NOW SOLD…. THANKS FOR ALL THE INTEREST SHOWN…………..

Please note it’s body only – with handbook, Canon strap, software, and battery.

What do you do when someone steals your content?

As the number of websites and blogs grow, so does the demand for content.  Images are especially vulnerable, and are taken on a regular basis from websites, galleries, and blogs. What can you do?

I wrote about this months ago, following theft of one of my images, only discovered by accident, after another person had formally requested use of it.  Only this week, I have discovered images being used in two other locations – one a small site administered by an individual – on behalf of a community association.  This ended well, with not only the offer of advertising on the site, but a fee was agreed and paid within 48 hours of the image being discovered.

The other was on a much larger corporate site – where the site owner happily admitted to taking the image, thinking that it was copyright to the local authority, therefore it didn’t matter that the image was stolen.  Even after I explained that the image was not being used by the Authority in question, the site owner prevaricated and stated that they had no budget for images, so they had to take them where they could.  At the moment, I am still waiting for either the image to be removed, or a fee to be paid.

This site is a great resource (and from where I got these free red and blue buttons) LORELLE ON WORDPRESS I can only emphasise that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ your content gets used, it’s a matter of ‘when’.  So have a read, and when you get content stolen, you’ll have a better idea of how to deal with it.

The question is – do you want your images or content help someone else earn money without your permission ?  Think about it ?

Google and Photovine

Even though there are loads of photo sharing sites on the internet, it looks like there is always space for one more. Google, it seems, has applied for the trade name ‘Photovine’. This seems to imply that it’s going to expand beyond what it already does with Picassa. The application for Photovine is for “communication services, transmission of visual images and data”.

Google seems to have bought ‘Photovine.com’ – so is it getting ready to add photo storage to it’s already massive range of products? We’ll have to wait and see.