What is the difference between a bicycle and a picture?

So what is the difference between a bicycle left outside a house and a picture on a webpage? This has been worrying me some time. I work for a company that provides images for books, newspapers,magazines, company reports, TV stills, adverts etc etc in fact anyone who wants pictures of our specialist areas comes to us, negotiates a Licence fee for the use of that image in a particular way. We take some of the money for overheads ands admin(including my salary) and a sizeble chunk goes to the creator of that image, the photographer. The copyright of the image belongs to the photographer and we just market the temporary, limited use of it to our clients in exchange for the licence fee.
Now if I leave my bike outside my house and an unkind person removes it I can involve the police who can pursue the “borrower”, charge them and there is a possibilty that the bicycle thief will be convicted. Even if the bike is returned I suspect that they could still be charged. We all know the thief shouldn’t have removed my bike and of course we never even consider committing such a crime.

So, I repeat, what is the difference between a bicycle and an image on a website. That image belongs to the photographer. His livelihood, his mortgage, the food in the mouths of his children all depend on him having some return for his work. So why do we all consider it fine to “borrow” images from wherever we find them and put them on our blogs?

I know why we do it. Every morning as soon as my eyes open, I log onto the computer while the kettle is still boiling and can’t wait to see what my No. 1 blogger has written about. Not only does she write, she provides me with all sorts of interesting info and images. Sometimes she writes about things she has made and delights us with her very able images of these crafts. Sometimes she goes for a walk with her camera and shares what she has seen. She also informs us about the happenings in her area and ably illustrates what she writes with well-researched pictures. And everyone I know grabs an image of the bookcover when they write about a recent read that they have enjoyed.

We are slowly being educated to understand that we must pay licence fees for software. We know that we shouldn’t download music without paying for it, because just as photographers need to live, so do musicians and song-writers.

So why is it OK for us to “borrow” pictures? Or is it?

[Note: This is not a personal attack on any particular blogger just the ramblings of another intermittent blogger who tries to steer clear of using the images of others but isn’t always successful]

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4 Responses to “What is the difference between a bicycle and a picture?”

  1. dovegreyreader Says:

    Food for thought indeed craftyperson and one I do think about before I post an image because I know YOU are looking:-)
    What’s the difference between scanning a book cover yourself and ‘borrowing’ one off Amazon? I’m not sure.I can’t believe any publishers will object to the free publicity for a start.
    For my own pictures which I use 90% of the time I have set up a Creative Commons License though I’m not sure how effective that is. It just means it’s nice to be asked before people use things.But I have no real problem with people blagging them to be honest,I don’t make a living from it and of course I may feel differently if I did.I suspect a lot of other people feel the same, if you put it out there it’s going to be “borrowed” that’s the nature of the thing.

  2. Joy Says:

    Hi R – is that you(just in case you want to remain anonymous). Thanks so much for posting to my blog – i had all but given up on it recently. I am really honored and actually was wondering about how you were recently.

    I love this blog – your musings make me think…..

    I must visit the UK freeform group soon – been lax with that too.

    I will add you to my blogs which i visit regularly.
    bye for now.

  3. booklogged Says:

    Gosh, I’m definitely guilty of doing this, but I didn’t realize it was wrong. I thought, like dovegreyreader, that it was provided free, word-of-mouth advertising for the book. Wouldn’t an author, publisher, illustrator be thrilled with that? I don’t cut music CDs or record from borrowed tapes. But I’m not sure I understand what is wrong with posting a books picture on a blog. Tell me more than your post did because I truly don’t understand this. Thanks.

  4. raspberryhttp://www.raspberry.co.uk Says:

    I’m totally with you on this! My husband runs his own design agency, and we of course use stock photography all the time, however, the number of times we have clients who say, could you not pay for an image, just use it for a hile until we find something better!
    So annoying, and so now, we say no, you pay, supply your own, or pay for something to be photographed.
    It is all to easy, and people seem to think it is not stealing!!!!


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