Monday, July 20, 2015

Photo Sharers Beware

Thanks to +Barbara Radisavljevic for sharing this link:

Today I found that a new Google + follower, who shall be nameless, is posting lots of stunning nature photos from all over the world. I have no way of knowing whether this person is a photographer for National Geographic or just shamelessly ganks other people's photos. I'm not adding this person to any "Circles" because the latter seems more probable.

At one time the default setting for Google + allowed any user to view all the photos a Googler had ever used or even linked to, and share, copy, and repost them, without warning...and, as I said when complaining to Google +, none of the photos anybody would want to copy from my collection was even mine to copy! This web site contains some amateurish, low-resolution images snapped with a cheap cell phone, useful mainly for identifying my cats, and some good pictures, mostly legally downloaded from Morguefile, some e-mailed by e-friends, and some taken for this site by real-world friends. My Google + "Photos" page, however, also displays all the pretty pictures (even a few ugly ad images) at all the sites I've ever plussed or cited. Have mercy...there's no way I could even tell people whom to e-mail for permission to reuse some of those pictures. And that category includes some of the best ones, too.

Recently +Allen West Republic , who (or which--I suspect the Allen West Republic includes other people as well as Congressman West) hadn't been doing much on Google +, started filling my "Circles" with cute, snarky graphics. I tried linking to the graphics so readers could see them in their original setting. That didn't work. There was no way to share them other than just ganking them, with thanks and a link. If I'm wrong in guessing that the images were meant to be copied and shared, and +Allen West Republic so indicates, I'll pull'em down. 

I think everybody who reads this web site understands that there's a big difference between making "personal use" of a picture someone else has created and posted on the Internet (e-mailing it, printing a copy to hang on your wall, using it as cell phone wallpaper) and making "use for profit" of the same picture (posting it on Bubblews, Tsu, Persona Paper, even a sponsored or ad-enhanced Blogspot). One is sharing a bit of pleasure, insight, amusement, whatever; the other is trying to collect payment for someone else's work. 

Although Bubblews seems to have been a dishonest site created by dishonorable men, and deserves to be punished for all the plagiarism some Bubblers did, my impression is that Tsu is...messy, a memory hog, and not attractive enough to enough of my e-friends to make me want to spend a lot of time there, but legitimate. The site encourages people to repost by "liking" the pictures their e-friends post. That's ethical, because the system pays the original poster for posting the original image that other people "like." But nobody has a right to foul up the system by posting images that they didn't draw or sculpt or at least photograph, themselves, and trying to get paid for those. Way to ruin Tsu for those who use it, plagiarist scum!

Anyway, Googlers, please double-check to make sure that you're not inadvertently offering all the images at every web page you've ever recommended for plagiarists to steal. I don't know to what extent just changing the settings on your Google + page will discourage this scam, but every little bit helps. 

I don't know what can be done on behalf of Tsu.