Blogger, the DMCA and me…

The DMCA is the rather grandly titled Digital Millennium Copyright Act and it appears that the people at Google, who run the blogging site Blogger have acted on a notice that I issued them at the end of last month to take down some of my images that were being used on a blog without my permission.

I recently wrote about this unauthorised image use. Such a shame because the commentary was good and the images well chosen to illustrate my work. It seems I’ll never know whether the writer was choosing to ignore my small request or somehow it never came to his attention. It beats me how someone writing an intelligent blog can choose not to include an email address so that they can be communicated with.

Unauthorised image use, artist’s moral rights & it’s nice to ask…

Before Christmas I discovered a blog post about my more personal images which included five of my photos that had been copied from my sites and used without my permission. This blog article is quite a good post – as a short critique it understands what I’m about is was placed alongside articles on Francesca Woodman & Juergen Teller so exalted company – but really I would like to have been asked about using the images before publication!

There was no contact email address, so I made a firm and polite comment. “From your comments you obviously appreciate what is behind my work. Like most photographers however I really would like to be asked first! To use them I am asking what I would ask of anyone – that you amend the heading & label to credit Scott H. the name I use as an artist, like on my site, rather than my full name – the reasons are complicated but good.”

So why don’t I want my full name used?

Put my name into Google and you’ll find there are not many of me about. Right now the blog article comes up on the first page of Google and anyone searching for me by name (in particular a client wishing to reuse my services) could easily click through and see rather more than they expected to see! There have been two such searches and contacts in the last two days – no clicks on the blog as far as I know but it’s only a matter of time. Many of my older clients come from conservative backgrounds and that will cost me work. And for photographers, work is really hard to come by.

So that’s why I’m Scott H. here. And because I know about how Google works I know that this article I write here which includes my full name is not going to come up prominently. And my blogger could even leave my name in the body of that blog too but (SEO lesson..) it is the use of the name in the title and links that causes Google to index it highly.

I don’t want to hide, I’m proud of the integrity of my images and am open about them with online and real life friends, but just as I don’t run naked down the street in front of the neighbours I don’t want to do the equivalent on the first page of Google.

But the real issue here is one of principle. Asking first. To use my images in any way people should have a licence or specific permission to use that image. To ask respects  an  artist’s moral rights and copyright rights. I’m not asking for money in return for the use, I’m asking for the removal of a few letters from the title and tags!

While taking away my wish for partial anonymity, the blogger chooses to be anonymous to the extent that I can’t even send an email. All I can do is write a post on the blog. In the absence of any contact, a week ago I issued a DMCA take down notice to Google which the blogger hopefully will read with my comment (which perhaps he or she’s not seen) and make the amendment that allows the publication to continue.

Here’s a reminder of what I say on various copyright posts on this blog…

“All these images are copyright. None of these photos may be reproduced and/or used in any form without my permission. This includes blogging!

But please don’t let this stop you asking nicely – if your blog treats other peoples intellectual property with respect and is non-commercial (no ads!) then I’m likely to say yes. On Tumblr you are welcome to ‘like’ or repost with the usual credit (to Scott H. / Allablur) and link.

Thank you for your understanding.”