I must offer a mea culpa this morning. Like any human being I made a mistake, one of perhaps minor overall consequence, but one of direct relevance to the office I hold.
Over the weekend I spotted a very entertaining photo/commentary on Facebook depicting â€œwhat photojournalists doâ€. If you havenâ€™t seen it Iâ€™m sure you will. It easily captures to no small degree the experience of many of us in the field of visual journalism. I â€œsharedâ€ it on my presidential Facebook fan page, because isnâ€™t that what we all do when we see something we like on the web?
The problem, as pointed-out to me this morning, is that the photographer who created this humorous image is not the owner of the copyright for the four images used. She even admits in comments accompanying that she plucked them off Google and does not know how to credit them. Therein lies the rub.
I am not copyright holder to any of the images, but I am President of a national association that fights tooth and nail on the issues of copyright protections for visual journalists. I should not be holding-up a blatant act of copyright infringement in any positive light, no matter how funny I might find the commentary to be?
These four-photo commentaries are flooding the web as we speak. Every occupation from politician, accountant, and athlete to photojournalist is the subject. They are going viral. The one in question here has had 400 â€œsharesâ€ so far on Facebook. The version for â€œjournalistâ€ has nearly 1,200 â€œsharesâ€ and over 1,800 â€œlikesâ€.
Photographers are losing money every day over having their images pirated on the internet. The NPPA is part of a coalition of organizations working with the U.S. Copyright office on these issues. As a group we need to learn the underlying issues and keep them in the forefront of our minds. If this means calling-out a colleague who has, perhaps innocently, violated copyright law and contributed to the overall societal disrespect for our intellectual property rights, then we must do that.
My apologies in advance if anyone is embarrassed by my comments here. I am embarrassed by my own actions and hope to use this as a teachable moment for us all.