Today is December 25th, and in the Christian calendar it is Christmas Day. Since I was born into a Christian family—I really had no say in the matter—may I wish you all a Merry Christmas; or, a most happy and peaceful day in whatever language, religion or belief you might practice.
It is not only a time to reflect upon the past, but also to ponder what the future might bring. With that in mind, I offer my three wishes for 2014.
Wish No. 1: That the public, and more specifically the users of social media who re-post photographs without authorization of the owner, make the time and interest to realize that photographs posted to the internet are most likely not in the public domain. Before you right-click-copy-paste, slow down to consider if your actions might very well be causing harm to another. Is your action going to be a party to cyber-bullying? Does the person in the photo really want their likeness broadcast to the world? Is that pretty landscape picture potentially taking the bread and butter off a photographer’s table? The law states that in all but a very few cases, a public domain photograph is one where the legal owner of the picture has authorized its distribution IN WRITING or more than 50 years has elapsed since the death of the author/photographer. In other words, the vast majority of all photographs on the internet ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN. So please, think if you harming another before posting.
Respect to others is my first wish.
Wish No. 2: That computer manufacturers, software developers and Internet service providers come together with a common conscience driven by social ethics as opposed to shareholder profits. You really can have both, and I would encourage these folks to be proactive and not wait for government regulation. I recognize that it will be impossible to curtail all illegal posting of materials on the internet; however, much more can be done to control this matter through a very simple process. Instead of relying on the DMCA to cover your ass, why not develop a script that prompts the individual user when the “Right Click–Copy” command is accessed with a flag that says something along the lines of “Are you authorized to copy this work?” This can then be followed up when the “Right Click–Paste” command is enabled with a prompt that says “Are you the legal owner of this work? Do you have licensed authorization from the legal owner to publish this work? This work may be protected by penalty under international copyright laws.” These actions will never stop intentional plagiarism or copyright infringement; however, it may very well be the start of an educational program.
Respect to others is my second wish.
Wish No. 3: The camera is a powerful tool of communication. It can not only record history but also influence the future. This can be no closer to the truth than those freelance war photographers who are compelled to put themselves in harm’s way to get the picture that has more power than the thousand words that sometimes accompany their appearance in newspapers and magazines. There have been hundreds of war photographers killed over the years, and 2013 is no exception. My final wish is that all people on this planet work more diligently to put war photographers out of work. In the words from one of the greatest leaders in history, the late Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedoms of others.”
Respect to others is my third wish.