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...
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.
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).
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.
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.