Plagiarism: Curse of the Artist


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIThere is a lot of photo plagiarism going on in social media forums. Photographers really need to understand the risks and, perhaps,  if they display their work, accept that this is the nouveau way. Or should they? People will steal your work and use it to bask in a new found glory; a showing off of a supposedly new talent, which they never really had.  They might even making money from your work. They follow in the footstep of the music pirates… everyone seems to be doing it, so maybe it must be right. It is not! Simply put, it is the theft or filching of one’s intellectual property, and most often an infringement of the author’s copyright.

According to the plagiarism dot org web site the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary the term “plagiarize” means:

to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own; to use (another’s production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft; to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

While perhaps flattering to the photographer, only in a way, just too many people seem to be content to share or purloin the work of others. They often do so in their own name, by simply failing to credit original authors. They are part of an unfortunate sect who, clearly, are unable create their own content and who can only fail to bring new and original material to the social media platforms. They would if they could, but social media almost dictates that these poor people must post something to at least become acknowledged or ‘expert’ and, hence, well known, if not popular. They are doing this on the backs of credible authors and originators. Social media never intended that this be done on the wicked altar of plagiarism and theft.

Photography is never the simple click of a shutter button… there is so much more to it. Your average photographers will have invested heavily in learning their craft and in acquiring their equipment. They will have expended time and money to get on location for the shoot, and then taken frame after frame until they get it right. A good photographer will admit to a ratio of one brilliant image in possibly a thousand… hitting the photographic sweet spot just once in as many minutes, if not hours of dedicated photography.

Yet some hapless soles, devoid of creativity and capacity to originate, will spend just seconds copying your work and passing it on as their own. Some will destroy a perfectly good image with crudely styled motivational messages, often plagiarized too, and then offer the work as their own, shamelessly oblivious of their destructive prowess. No reference is made to the original author, the source of the material stolen, nor any consideration given to copyright. Some go so far as to rub out obvious copyright notices.

Digital photography has led to an explosion of graphic material on the internet. This is healthy. It allows the photographer to share his or her work and the viewer or beholder to marvel, enjoy and make recollections which are pleasing to the heart. Most photographers see the power of the internet to allow exposure of their work, and often this leads to commercial considerations. This is all very honorable, until somebody decides to claim the image as his or her own for gratuitous purposes or profit.

Photographers understand the ethics when handling the work of others. It is simple. Credit the original artist if you can, and almost certainly credit the source of the material. To not do so infers you are passing the work on as your own, that is, stealing.  There is just too much ignorance being demonstrated by offenders.  Almost without exception stealing is a crime across the globe and ignorance is no defense. Surely, it is time the social media networks came to understand this and take action against offenders who pursue this filthy crime. The are all providing the platform.  Plagiarists should also learn to understand.

You can help… there is a petition to be signed and you could join a social media group in support of this campaign.

Visit Andrew’s Simply Wild Photography photo blog… you will not regret doing so!

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