Of Copyrights and gracious sharing


Hi guys. How unconnected can I be to be posting something as unromantic as ‘Copyrights’ on February the 14th. Valentines day for crying out loud!! Well, what can I say, read this at work and then take your lady or man out in the evening. I do not see the connection to my unromantic post.

Most of you know that I have had a few issues in the past with people using my images without crediting me, without my permission and even taking it as far as using my images as their own. This has been an issue that has really wasted my time too, thought I should post about our online behaviors in this century. Take the example of this chap who took my photo, posted it on his blog as his(even added his own logo in it) and then submitted it to a competition by Standard newspaper via their KTN Kenya facebook page (no point giving you links as that works in their favor).

*a screen shot showing the image as seen on the facebook page(as you can see, the image is supposedly by Vincent Achuka)*

*the same image but with mine as I posted it to show you the minor adjustment to hue done here*

So that paints the picture, but this is not the point of the post. The point is to pick our brains why we seem to be structured to do anything but buy the stuff we need. I mean it is understandable if I don’t even put a notification of proper use of my images on the blog(which I do by the way), oh wait, even if I did not have that, would it make it right to use the photos unlawfully? I think not.

I think it stems from our desire to want everything at the cheapest possible price…mostly free. Only difference is NOTHING is ever free. If you don’t pay for it, it is just because someone else has paid for it already so you can have it for “FREE”. We are used to downloading movies for “FREE”, music for “FREE” and when we attend the concert for the artist whose music we have “borrowed”, we want a complimentary ticket. How now?

This may seem like a rant, but really I just want us to all be sensitive about our online behaviors before they land us in actual trouble.

1. If you post it, with no credit to the actual photographer, I assume it is yours.

2. If you make it seem to be yours when it isn’t, you might as well have stolen a tv from someones house that they rarely visit(that’s criminal dude).

3. The least you can do when you get “FREE” stuff is let people know where you got it from so they get it themselves. The point of giving this stuff is to benefit in numbers knowing where to find you.

4. When people give you free stuff, it doesn’t hurt them to say thanks. :)

 Is there a solution for photographers? Should we emblazon our logos all over our art just so that it can be seen everywhere(as opposed to the actual art being seen)? Is that the equivalent of having 10 locks on my door in the house? Would it work? I think it may, but then am I pushing my logo or am I pushing my art? I am of the school of thought that if someone really wants to steal your work, they shall but stealing my work shall not make them better, neither shall it make me a worse photographer. Also, no one can get rich over stolen photography(especially stolen online) so we can consider that petty crime.

*how I usually watermark my images*

*same image with my fool proof 10 locks on it to prevent/discourage theft*

So it begs the question of whether its worth it to spend time & resources protecting myself against petty crime. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.

My suggestion though, it is very simple to credit our work so others can know who did it. Very simple, extremely simple. Have a wonderful valentines day.

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17 thoughts on “Of Copyrights and gracious sharing

  1. From what I have been able to determine in the short time I have been following your blog, you have been incredibly generous with your work. ie Wallpaper suggestions and availability etc. I don’t understand why anyone would steal your photos without acknowledgement as to authorship. You’d probably give permission to them anyhow if they asked..

  2. Credits. While you’re right that people do the wrong thing by stealing your work it’s up to the rest of us to shame them into the right thing. They often think they won’t get caught or no one will tell you. But they do, Goal is to make your work so recognizable as a Mutua piece that these thieves can’t dare steal it.

  3. Pole sana Mutua. Big logo it is! There are many people like that out there. You do great stuff and protect it.
    Though some people don’t realize that they are doing the wrong thing…it’s not in their realm to think in that way.
    Love your stuff! …and yes its a lesson learnt for those who didn’t know that credit should be given to the right person.

    Happy Valentines dear.

  4. What that Vincent and other thieves out there did is wrong, no doubt. But take heart in on thing, even if they stole it they would never be able to reproduce it. Their glory is only in the one time stolen photo. Suppose Vincent is given a contract to photograph the city, i really doubt if he could hack such photos. Mutua, you’ve made a good name for yourself. I’m proud to have crossed a path with you. Then an idea so that the logo is not croppped you could consider using a grid like those on photobucket, have a look at this example http://goo.gl/Qj4r8

  5. Your work already has a ‘mark’ even without your logo. It stands out in its own unique way. So maybe you might want to consider stolen and ‘remixed’ work as a ‘cover version’ of your work. For as long as you have work worth stealing, it shall be stolen. It probably already is on peoples walls (printed and framed), proposals, websites, magazines etc etc.
    *I wish people would start stealing my work :)* I don’t even have a a notification of proper use of my images :) – Maybe I should – then they will steal it :)
    Endelea na kazi poa roho juu!!

  6. Shame!!! total shame….and sad too. That good and unique talent has to be embroiled in the mediocrity of having to stamp a big logo to protect it from lazy bums seeking fame through cheap shots….and for those who receive and use this information without verifying the source….SHAME ON YOU!!!! for helping and encouraging the perpetrators!!!
    Mutua, take heart, you have a following that knows your work…and appreciates it.

  7. That was a really shady move there by Vincent! I think that you have a point about how we pay no mind to what it cost someone for us to supposedly get something ‘free’. Then, we also just have a really bad culture of entitlement.
    To give credit where it is due is to mean that you are humble enough to admit that someone else is better than you – and that we do not want to do. We want to be seen as better than we are and we find no problem letting a compliment that is not due to you slip instead of passing it along. After all, it makes you look better in people eyes.
    before I preach a sermon, my 2 cents worth…

  8. I love your work Mutua, i remember i uploaded this same picture on a ‘Nairobi’ facebook page, BUT, i took the time to acknowledge: “courtesy of Mutua Matheka” that guy should have known better than steal your work. it is like stealing the Monalisa and posing it as your work. If there is a generous guy its you man, so i urge art thieves to desist from taking your work and posing as theirs!

  9. The small positive spin in this situation is that he recognizes that your work is awesome.
    But I still wonder how he even expected to win a competition with shoplifted photos.
    This is just being dim-witted and selfish.
    He should apologize profusely, and promise never to be a creative parasite again!

  10. Keep doing what you do…don’t let this stop your creativity and passion for your art…as for the thief nothing good will ever come out of your action…as for copyright laws if you use other peoples intellectual property without any financial gain you should and have to credit the author…..if used for monetary gain you should also credit the author and wright a big fat cheque….Mr Mutua if its in your reach to persure the charlatan then do so as for the fans and art lovers out there help solve the problem and speak out…

  11. Very sorry about that !!

    I know people who don’t waste time, they just send an invoice to the person (when use for commercial uses)… expect a prompt action once invoice received :)

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