21 July 2010

The Artist's Paradox

"The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt." - Bono

Well...So, what do you think? You haven't even noticed the new changes have you? Now I feel like the girl who gets her hair done and her man doesn't even notice! Fine, I'll just point it out then...

If you will cast your eyes to the top, just below the header, you'll now notice I've added a menu bar where you can view additional pages to the blog. Some were along the right column and some are new. But now you can click on the menu options and get a bit more detail ABOUT ME, ABOUT THIS BLOG, well...you can read. So I invite you to peruse the menu bar and check out the newness of Photo Anthems Blog. I liked it. You'll also notice I've added a slide show on the right. Its the best I could do. I wanted to add on that featured a particular gallery of images, but Blogger doesn't seem to allow that, at least as far as I can tell. These are pretty much all the images that have been posted on my blog, but they also include the comic strips and any other pics that I've posted that are not personally owned by me.

What is the Artist's Paradox? I know I'm not the only one dealing with this dilemma, but it does frustrate me to no end that we live in an age of tech geniuses where just about anything is possible, yet artists can't get protection for their work. I'm talking reasonable protection, that is. I know there are ways to circumvent anything. Its a war of upsmanship. (I don't think that's a word, but it expresses my point). Much like the viral wars, as any new security feature is invented, somebody creates a virus or hack to breech it. Then the tech powers that be, have to plug the hole. And it creates a never ending cycle. That's been the nature of war since Cain. I'm sure Seth then came up with the idea for a helmet.

Model, Melissa

The only absolute answer most people will reply with (usually non-artists) is, "Well, if you don't want your stuff stolen, DON'T put in in the world wide web!" True, but that's like telling us abstinence is the only thing that's 100% guaranteed to prevent unwanted pregnancies or STDs. It might be correct, but do we really want to stop having sex? No, we do assume a certain level of risk, but we at least have the option of reasonable protection in a condom. Its not 100%. They do fail at times but that failure rate is reasonable and its mainly due to user error. Not only that, we don't pay the equivalent of a car payment for a condom and they are not only for the upper echelon of the social classes. Bentleys...yes. Condoms...no. I don't have 12 Bentleys in a garage, but I've got 12 condoms in a box...wait, maybe less. (Crass, I know).

"Old Hacienda", Model Samantha

All I'm saying is that I wish somebody'd satisfy the artist's need...dare I say, compulsion to share and display their art with reasonable protections against theft. I know there's somebody that can get your stuff whatever you do, but damn I don't want to make it easy for the masses. If you break into my house, you've got to do some damage and you risk discovery very easily. People on the web are way too anonymous. Where is all this coming from? Well, I've always felt this way. Many of the popular online galleries we use don't have adequate protection. Model Mayhem doesn't. They moderate sites for decency which protects their interests, but have no security features to protect our's. Model Brigade, however does, only they are not as popular. One Model Place also does. Deviant Art does not and its very popular world wide. I've recently found a profile that spits obvious theft like an old diesel engine spits oil. Yes, there is the "style" of images that are not the same throughout the gallery. But there are other clues as well. For those grade of images, you'd think the creator would have a watermark on them. He'd have a website or another reference linking back to more of his work. There would be contact information to solicit more work. Meta data for the camera used, date the pick was taken, focal length, etc. might be displayed. This profile was completely blank. No ID. No About Me. Nothing except for commentary of other people saying, "Love your work". I did a quick TINEYE.com search on one of the images and despite the title profile identifying him as a US student, I found the author of the work to be in the Ukraine. A few more searches came up with more European and Russian authors. Deviant Art only deleted the one image when they should have deleted the profile. I found this same instance a year or so back only the profile user was selling the images he stole. This passive style of "protection" should be more proactive in my humble opinion.

"Sun Bath", Model Samantha

What can we do? Keep exposing ourselves to risk? That doesn't make good business since, though. Maybe that's where the adage "Starving Artists" originated from. I often hear about talented artists who never make it because of lack of business savvy. On the other hand, how many times have you seen a guy making millions and you KNOW your work is better. Chances are, he or she was a better marketer and promoter of themselves. People make money on less talented work every day. So what do we do, my friends? Is there a better way? I may have to look into this further, but I also have to take a look at the man in the mirror and I ask the same of you. Who among you has a boot-leg movie from the guy who approached you in the Wal-Mart parking lot? How about a fake Rolex, software, perfume, or a Gucci bag? Who has unlocked an iPhone or is big on movie/music sharing? It would seem like its part of our nature to circumvent the rules even if we justify them as Us Against Big Business, or Sticking It to the Man! I'll let you draw that line. In the meantime, I want to protect my stuff.


unbearable lightness said...

Wow, "sunbath" is beautiful!

Great post, T. The Internet has opened Pandora's box for theft of artistic property. I understand your concerns. As a writer, I have to be concerned as well. I own copyright to everything I write, just as you do to photographs, and after permission for one use, copyright reverts to the artist in both cases. Someone we know is shopping work I asked to be removed (and it was) from a newly-named site. Artists I interviewed are being asked, in a roundabout and manipulative way, to sanction re-publication. One of these artists was ethical and apprised me of the situation.

The nonsense never ends. What can we do? Wish I knew, T. Once you unleash your work online, it's anyone's treasure I guess. Sucks.

Karl said...

Very interesting. We also have to look into the issues of appropriation and re-purposing of our art.

I have a message to all the entrepreneurial computer geniuses out there. Make a system/app/thingamajig to protect images that can be universally applied across websites and/or controlled by the image creator and you will be very wealthy.

I wrote a short post today about a photo-usage law suit. Scary stuff abounds. http://sensual575.blogspot.com/2010/07/who-is-right-get-your-documentation-in.html

Photo note. Your images for today's post are rocking my world. You have fine work, but these images are really working for me. Out of the four, "Hacienda" and "Sun Bath" are pushing edges and boundaries that need to be pushed. WOW!!!

Photo Anthems.com said...

I gotta believe there is a way, UL. Mother necessity will at some point in time intervene. I think its going to be up to each industry to protect it's own much like the music folks are concerned with music and movies with movies. At times they can merge fronts but their interests still lie independently of one another.

Karl, I am sure they already have the technology to do it. Its just expensive as hell, but companies are there who sell those services, like Digimarc, who offers the ability to put invisible watermarks in the images, but they also allow you to track them for a premium. There needs to be a way for this thing to be automatic and at a reduced cost...like condoms!

I can tell you I'll be looking into it. And I am glad you like my work. I've been debating over whether or not I am pushing too far and getting away from my original art. But I think this is okay!

Reaper-X said...

It's stuff like that, that kind of makes me cling to the watermark. Especially when you do not have the means to protect your work. I also find it strange that dA does not appear to be hard pressed to protect artists very much, considering more and more artists are starting to get serious and passionate about their work. I'd like to imagine that at some point they will, or are already, but it still has me quite worried at times.

Until then... I'll be clinging to the watermark...and searching for better watermarking software.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Thanks again for the comment. I appreciate it!