I’ve been using StumbleUpon off and on, which is a nifty way to find random things with some advance indication that they might be worth looking at. I’m a fan of internet randomness, and I like artwork, so art is one of the categories I follow.
I’ve been somewhat disturbed to stumble over a number of cases where bloggers appear to be aggregating images from various sources and reproducing them more or less “in full” without even so much as attributing the original artist[s]. In many of these cases, the image filenames are altered as well, completely obscuring the source of the image.
At risk of harping on a topic that has been covered a billion times elsewhere, this is:
1) Disrespectful to the original artist. If you like an image enough to want to show it to people, at least have the decency to make an attribution. Not doing so is rude and unfair at best, and at worst, intellectually dishonest as you are implying that you created the image.
2) Most likely in violation of copyright, unless the artist deliberately placed the work in the public domain. If you use an image without being certain that the use is covered by fair use/fair dealing/the copyright regulations of your jurisdiction, you may be exposing yourself to legal liability for that misuse.
3) Irritating to people like me, who may appreciate a particular artist’s work and wish to find other creations by that artist.
Whenever I see these on social sites (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.), it always places me in a quandary. On the one hand, I like the works and I want to “like” or “+1” or “thumbs-up” the content. However, when the aggregator fails to acknowledge the source, I find myself wanting to “dislike” the page itself. In some cases, it’s probably ignorance of the rules of using other people’s content on your site, but I suspect in a lot of these cases, the intent is to drive traffic to generate ad revenue, and the people running these sites don’t really give a damn. Either way, it’s irresponsible to promote these sites, no matter how interesting the content is, if the promotion will benefit someone without giving the actual creator the time of day.
The site that was the final straw (http://beenidrew.com/20-most-beautiful-expressive-photography/ — I’m pasting it here, unlinked, solely in case someone is searching for some of the artists) was an aggregation of photographs by various artists and primarily seems to have ripped photographs from DeviantArt. I took the time to use TinEye to reverse-search a few of the ones that caught my eye. And no, I didn’t thumbs-up the aggregation page. If you’ve seen that page before and are wondering about the artists, here are a few previews of the images, properly linked back to the full-sized images at the artists’ DeviantArt pages.
And if you want to share images or any other form of artwork with people, please make sure that the work can be tracked back to the original artist, both for the artist’s sake and for everyone else on the internet who might want to see more of that artist’s work!
(Edit: For a more fun, comic version of what I’m getting at, see “See Something, Cite Something” at Rosscott, Inc. Granted, they don’t really address the aggregated version of this, so I suppose my updated take would be “See Something Uncited? Source First, Then Share!” Or at least acknowledge that the source is unknown and ask for someone to help you fill it in. Don’t be that guy! 🙂 )