This posting is to make a major ‘Mea Culpa’ both to my friend, Barbara Staggs, and to readers of my blog.
In my posting last week, I wrote a prose poem about Halloween for this month. I also posted a selection of digital artwork and photographs that, as I say on my blog site, “All images are (c) Diana Lyn Davidson. Any other uses, reproductions or distributions are specifically prohibited.”
Shortly after publishing the posting, Barbara contacted me and asked if one of the images I had posted was, in fact, her image. I was mortified at the possibility but deep in writing a school assignment so I promised her I would check and in the meantime, deleted the image from my blog site.
As soon as time permitted, I checked on the provenance of the image. I looked into the metadata and found that the image had been shot with a Canon camera (Barbara and I both use Canon camera) and the date that the photograph was made was during an approximate time when both of us had traveled to the Tetons. To my chagrin, however, the image did not contain a copyright. I copyright all my images except for cell phone images and the image had been captured with a ‘real’ camera. So, the image must not be mine. How did this happen?
It was important for me to explore this situation. Copyright is something that I feel strongly about. I have given talks on copyright to my camera club. I am concerned that artists in a variety of media are losing control over their creative works when they publish on the internet. And now, I was guilty of the very behavior that I have warned fellow photographers about. I had violated Barbara Stagg’s copyright.
So, I have throughly examined my blog publication workflow to see how this might have happened. I use Lightroom to catalogue all my images. I import directly from my camera to Lightroom and two steps that are automatically included in my import: 1. Create a backup copy to a separate drive and 2. Include my copyright on all images. Then on a quarterly basis, I send thumbnails of all the images collected that quarter to the U.S. Copyright Office to register my copyright. It is important to note that all artists own their copyright at the moment of creation—whether it is art, photography, music, writing. However, unless you have registered your copyright, you have no legal recourse if anyone violates your copyright. (Thank goodness for that–since Barbara does not register her copyright,even though I violated her copyright, she has no legal basis to sue me!)
Like everyone else, I also use my cell phone to capture A LOT of images! I automatically download those to Apple Photos, which is a wonderful app that allows some limited editing capabilities but very limited metadata. Specifically, it does not allow the incorporation of copyright into the image. I suspect that one could adapt the description or comment section of photo information to append a copyright but it is a clunky way to do so and would require tagging every photo individually. So, I don’t do that.
I also use Apple Photos as a repository for images that I have downloaded from the internet (oftentimes because I want to share the image, I want to remember it, or someone has shared it with me). I suspect that is how Barbara’s image ended up in my Photos app. She had shared the image with me over the internet and I copied it into my Photos app because I admired it.
When I did my blog posting, I was in a hurry and decided to use images available to me in my Photo app on my laptop rather than going to my desktop and using my Lightroom catalogue. And then I got very sloppy—the photo did not have a copyright but I assumed it was one of my cell phone photos. So, I published it. It was not until Barbara questioned the image that I went to my Apple Photos app and reviewed the image. (That is another part of the problem—Apple Photos does not automatically display EXIF data on the screen. You have to right click on the photo or go to the command banner and click a dialogue button to see photo information.)
The image was not a cell phone photo—it was tagged with a Canon camera origination—but it also did not have a copyright appended in the EXIF file. So, the image could not have been mine, based on my own work flow strategy. That coupled, of course, with Barbara telling me that it was her image 🙂
For me, the change I have made for future publications is a major one. From this point on, any photos that I take with my cell photo are downloaded to my Apple Photo app but in addition, I have set up an auto-upload of those photos to Lightroom mobile. I will still use Apple Photos as a collection app for my cell phone photos, photos that have been shared with me, photos that I download from the internet—but I will ONLY use photos from Lightroom or Lightroom mobile that are embedded with my copyright to publish on my blog site.
MEA CULPA! BUT LESSON LEARNED!
I’m so, so sorry Barbara.