Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ownership and Privacy

   Another potentially problematic issue facing this blog is the use of "found" images.  I've made many posts using photographs and other ephemera that I've purchased at estate sales, thrift stores and antique shops. Copyright belongs to the originator of a work, in the case of photographs it is:
I. 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation whichever is shorter (anonymous works, pseudonymous works, or works made for hire, published since 1978).

II. 95 years from publication for works published 1964–1977.

III. 28 years (if copyright not renewed) or 95 years from publication for works published 1923–1963. 

IV. Copyrights prior to 1923 have expired.  (source: wikipedia)
   To the best of my knowledge, none of the found images I've used had ever been previously published, they are not 'commercial photography'. I've got the originals, making any claim of ownership effectively moot. My "Back to School Fashions, 1971" images would fall under category II, if they had been published. Most of the other found images used here would fall under category III or IV. This is far from an academic question. The case of Vivian Maier is currently under threat of litigation; it is quite reasonable to assume that her work won't be shown again for many years. Perhaps no work of unknown ownership should ever be shown? The images on this blog are original, unless otherwise credited. Those works which aren't original are posted in good faith to be 'fair use', and will be taken down if shown otherwise. More on this topic at TOP.

   The other big question is one of privacy. I'm not a 'window peeper' (excepting commercial and other public buildings) my general guide to privacy is not to post anything I wouldn't want seen of my self or would cause embarrassment or discomfort to anyone else. That could be interpreted in many different ways; a reasonable objection and I will quickly pull any offending image. This is mentioned in the fine print on my 'Welcome' page, and has been in place since day one. A couple of examples of images I've had second thoughts about posting:

Butterfly Buddha, Seattle, 2014

   The above image is from a street fair, in a public place, with a recognizable person. Searchable, although buried in with numerous other Buddha-related images. I can imagine the subject having a negative reaction to the image, but that's her prerogative. I thought it captured the essence of the moment. If she wanted it taken down, I'd do it in a minute.

Lonely Avenue, Minneapolis, 2013

   This image, although the subject is not identifiable, might be considered objectionable by many. Again, I thought it captured the essence of the moment. I would need to have a very persuasive argument to take this image down. It is of an arguably different aesthetic (I hope) from the casual cell-phone pictures in the Reddit case (discussed in Monday's post), but schematically it is the same: a picture which includes a woman's backside.

   I don't have any answers to these conflicts. In light of other modern problems, what I post here is not of much importance. Some of the images posted here have made connections with people who knew or otherwise were related to the subjects. The response has been nearly uniformly favorable, I will continue to post what I see fit, although always remembering the power of a photograph to do harm. It would be a sad day if a misguided law squelched this type of expression.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

I don't see you as paparazzi. If all women (and men for that matter) were wearing burkas could they be photographed without any repercussions?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

It seems as there is no end to the controversies caused by buttocks.

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