Steal my content, please!

I was just reading feeds before heading to the second day’s events at LeWeb3 conference in Paris. Along comes Susan Mernit’s blog, who quotes Lane Hartwell, who is pissed that people steal her photographs. She’s decided to take all of her Flickr photos out of the public eye.

Me? I’m wondering why she doesn’t move them all to SmugMug and put a watermark on them? SmugMug’s CEO showed me that feature, along with a feature that lets photographers sell their work in my recent tour/interview/demo video.

But, I’m not like Lane. I’ve spent more than $5,000 on equipment in my recent photographic career (and it is a career at this point, because I have sold a few photos in my life, including two that recently were printed in San Francisco magazine).

Me? I’m the opposite of Lane. I WANT YOU to steal my content. In fact, next year I’m going to do stuff to make all my content available via Creative Commons license so you can use it whereever and whenever, including my video shows. I’d like a credit, yes, but don’t demand it. I’d rather just add to the human experience and if that means that other people make money off of my work, so be it.

I’ve found that the more I give away my content, the more magical stuff happens to me anyway and if that means my photos or writings or videos get used in some way that I don’t really like, well, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Lane obviously is not.

Plus, today I have a little less competition from Lane, who was a great photographer but who’s work will be hard to discover now.

I guess she hasn’t learned the lesson that the New York Times recently learned: when you try to hold onto your content too tightly fewer people are able to find it.

Me? I’ve found that most people won’t steal content outright and, will, instead steal it with a link back to the original. iProng, for instance, asked me to use my photo. I said “sure” and didn’t ask for any compensation. They gladly gave me a credit in their cool interview with Facebook’s Joe Hewitt (he wrote the iPhone app, which is still my favorite iPhone application). So my photo gets widely seen, along with my name. How did iProng find me? A Flickr search, how else?

So, steal my content please!

185 thoughts on “Steal my content, please!

  1. @Jim Goldstein:

    “One thing would have been certain if the Richter Scales had approached Lane for permission is that one artist would have been paid.”

    That is definitely NOT certain… the Richter Scales most likely would have found one of many other photos who’s photographer didn’t have a stick up her ass…

  2. @Jim Goldstein:

    “One thing would have been certain if the Richter Scales had approached Lane for permission is that one artist would have been paid.”

    That is definitely NOT certain… the Richter Scales most likely would have found one of many other photos who’s photographer didn’t have a stick up her ass…

  3. Mr. Scoble,

    I just stole your content.

    And improved it.

    And improved its comments.

    Feel free to build upon my contribution.

    You’re welcome,

    Jonathon

  4. Mr. Scoble,

    I just stole your content.

    And improved it.

    And improved its comments.

    Feel free to build upon my contribution.

    You’re welcome,

    Jonathon

  5. So, it’s ok that I used your beautiful photo of that lobster roll for my holiday greeting cards? Rock on dude!
    I am waiting for the day you make one post that does not mention money or food.

    The idea that the word “art” is even uttered on your blog is hilarious. explain why my photo of Ronald Reagan is hanging in Silicon Valley’s Republican Headquarters… OMGZWTFBBQLOLicopter!!! you never fail to amaze and dazzle.

  6. So, it’s ok that I used your beautiful photo of that lobster roll for my holiday greeting cards? Rock on dude!
    I am waiting for the day you make one post that does not mention money or food.

    The idea that the word “art” is even uttered on your blog is hilarious. explain why my photo of Ronald Reagan is hanging in Silicon Valley’s Republican Headquarters… OMGZWTFBBQLOLicopter!!! you never fail to amaze and dazzle.

  7. I’m not sure about this. I’ve had my content on all of my blogs stolen time and again and nothing magical has happened to me. I did give up on trying to hunt every person down that takes my stuff without proper attribution–so I guess in a way I indirectly am allowing the stealing now. It’s just getting too vast to deal with.

    However, I agree with what others have been saying, people take posts from my blogs and make money off of them. I’m a mom with 4 little mouthes to feed and I find it obnoxious that something I put time and energy into is putting green in someone’s pocket and it’s not mine.

    I respect you a lot Robert, so I’ll cross my fingers that something magical happens to me soon.

  8. I’m not sure about this. I’ve had my content on all of my blogs stolen time and again and nothing magical has happened to me. I did give up on trying to hunt every person down that takes my stuff without proper attribution–so I guess in a way I indirectly am allowing the stealing now. It’s just getting too vast to deal with.

    However, I agree with what others have been saying, people take posts from my blogs and make money off of them. I’m a mom with 4 little mouthes to feed and I find it obnoxious that something I put time and energy into is putting green in someone’s pocket and it’s not mine.

    I respect you a lot Robert, so I’ll cross my fingers that something magical happens to me soon.

  9. acidmine: you’re so funny. So explain the check I got from San Francisco Magazine. Or, explain why my photo of Ronald Reagan is hanging in Silicon Valley’s Republican Headquarters.

  10. acidmine: you’re so funny. So explain the check I got from San Francisco Magazine. Or, explain why my photo of Ronald Reagan is hanging in Silicon Valley’s Republican Headquarters.

  11. Ryan, wait a second here. That’s not up to me, that’s up to Wiley (they own the copyright on that work, not me). But, let’s go over the facts, shall we? We put it up on the Web for free. So, you could read the entire book for free, if you wanted. Why, then, have we sold tens of thousands of copies and outsold all other corporate blogging books combined?

    Also, you might talk to Cory Doctorow. His books are free and, yet, his books are best sellers.

    Weird how this “stealing” thing works.

  12. Ryan, wait a second here. That’s not up to me, that’s up to Wiley (they own the copyright on that work, not me). But, let’s go over the facts, shall we? We put it up on the Web for free. So, you could read the entire book for free, if you wanted. Why, then, have we sold tens of thousands of copies and outsold all other corporate blogging books combined?

    Also, you might talk to Cory Doctorow. His books are free and, yet, his books are best sellers.

    Weird how this “stealing” thing works.

  13. Robert, I’m sure SF Mag will be happy to know they won’t have to pay for your photos in the future.

    I find the negative attitude towards this disturbing. Is it so strange that a content creator ask for their work to not be used without permission? If you want to give it away, fine. CC is good for that. But don’t dismiss someone because they choose to do something different for their own reasons.

  14. Robert, I’m sure SF Mag will be happy to know they won’t have to pay for your photos in the future.

    I find the negative attitude towards this disturbing. Is it so strange that a content creator ask for their work to not be used without permission? If you want to give it away, fine. CC is good for that. But don’t dismiss someone because they choose to do something different for their own reasons.

  15. Wow…you’ve spent more than $5,000 on equipment on your hobby, oh, I’m sorry, your “photographic career”, and through all the knowledge you’ve gained with that 5K purchase you think it’s just groovy to have anybody come by and steal your work! Sonny, do you have any idea how Goddamned stupid you sound?!! It’s completely boneheaded thinking like this that makes the day-to-day lives of REAL professional photographers so challenging. And just in case you were wondering, I don’t want your photos adding to “the human experience” if it makes it even the tiniest bit harder for me to convince a client to pay a fair usage fee for one of my images!

  16. Wow…you’ve spent more than $5,000 on equipment on your hobby, oh, I’m sorry, your “photographic career”, and through all the knowledge you’ve gained with that 5K purchase you think it’s just groovy to have anybody come by and steal your work! Sonny, do you have any idea how Goddamned stupid you sound?!! It’s completely boneheaded thinking like this that makes the day-to-day lives of REAL professional photographers so challenging. And just in case you were wondering, I don’t want your photos adding to “the human experience” if it makes it even the tiniest bit harder for me to convince a client to pay a fair usage fee for one of my images!

  17. Actually Robert. Now that you have mentioned “I WANT YOU to steal my content.” is it ok if I buy a copy of your book, scan it in, OCR it and make it available on Usenet and as a torrent via PirateBay.

    I mean, I just wanted to check before I do that, as I would hate to spend all the time it would involve only to have a lawsuit land on my desk. I mean, I will leave in the title page thats says you wrote it…

    Also is Shel ok with this?

    Unless you want to beat me to it and offer the book as a free downloadable PDF – ala Radiohead…

  18. Actually Robert. Now that you have mentioned “I WANT YOU to steal my content.” is it ok if I buy a copy of your book, scan it in, OCR it and make it available on Usenet and as a torrent via PirateBay.

    I mean, I just wanted to check before I do that, as I would hate to spend all the time it would involve only to have a lawsuit land on my desk. I mean, I will leave in the title page thats says you wrote it…

    Also is Shel ok with this?

    Unless you want to beat me to it and offer the book as a free downloadable PDF – ala Radiohead…

  19. There has been some speculation over how the image was found in the first place. A day or so ago, I typed “Owen Thomas” into Google Images and lo and behold, I got the aforementioned photograph.

    What’s interesting is that Lane (the photographer) is credited at the top and at the bottom of the article as the photographer (it says “Continue reading for more photos from the party by Lane Hartwell.” and “All photos by Lane Hartwell.”) and very her name is hyperlinked in both cases to her website. On the front page of her website at the bottom is a link to her email address. Her email is just as easy to find as the photograph.

    From viewing that picture, in just TWO mouse clicks I could be typing an email to ask permission to use that photograph in my upcoming music video parody…

    It’s theft AND it’s lazy too! Maybe the real bubble that’s bursting is people ability to give a damm about other peoples rights and feelings. Richter Scales are quite clearly in the wrong and no amount of “oh but it’s on the internet so it’s ok really” talk will change that fact.

    Finally, I really don’t want this to come across as a personal dig, but having actually looked at your photostream, I would posit that you sold a couple of photos in that situation more because you are Robert Scoble, than the fact that they are good photographs. You undervalue the weight of your name.

  20. There has been some speculation over how the image was found in the first place. A day or so ago, I typed “Owen Thomas” into Google Images and lo and behold, I got the aforementioned photograph.

    What’s interesting is that Lane (the photographer) is credited at the top and at the bottom of the article as the photographer (it says “Continue reading for more photos from the party by Lane Hartwell.” and “All photos by Lane Hartwell.”) and very her name is hyperlinked in both cases to her website. On the front page of her website at the bottom is a link to her email address. Her email is just as easy to find as the photograph.

    From viewing that picture, in just TWO mouse clicks I could be typing an email to ask permission to use that photograph in my upcoming music video parody…

    It’s theft AND it’s lazy too! Maybe the real bubble that’s bursting is people ability to give a damm about other peoples rights and feelings. Richter Scales are quite clearly in the wrong and no amount of “oh but it’s on the internet so it’s ok really” talk will change that fact.

    Finally, I really don’t want this to come across as a personal dig, but having actually looked at your photostream, I would posit that you sold a couple of photos in that situation more because you are Robert Scoble, than the fact that they are good photographs. You undervalue the weight of your name.

  21. Also, I just realized that your Flickr content is still ARR. You know, you are talking about making these changes next year but with a few clicks of a button, you can make it all CC right now.

    Also, you say:
    “I’ve found that the more I give away my content, the more magical stuff happens”

    Clearly the old adage (“Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.”) is meaningless to you. Do you really believe you are so wise? If so, I double dare you. No. I triple dog dare you to make all of your photographs give-a-away boobie prizes. I have given away content for free and it rarely, if ever brings more exposure. I’m not saying you are a bad photographer, but people expect things for free, maybe more now than ever.

    Finally, you say:

    “…today I have a little less competition from Lane, who was a great photographer but who’s work will be hard to discover now.”

    You must admit — some of what you say is a bit conceited. Will it really be harder to discover? Maintaining image control is vital to some customers. But then, maybe Jay Z was wrong about all that licensing stuff. How much money does he have now? Oh nevermind…

    Lane is a fantastic photographer who has clearly documented her abilities and has a proven track record. If this were a competition, and maybe it is, I wouldn’t get too far ahead of your new photography career with this spin. Owning a 5D does not make one a great, or even good, photographer all buy itself. And selling a few image trinkets here and there, while bad mouthing another fully professional photographer, is hardly putting yourself in some glowing spotlight. Rather, what you have seemed to achieve is an article that brings you to light in the mythical land of Internet famedom. Congratulations.

    Oh, and by the way, do tell me when you make your content free for the taking and when it brings you the riches. I’m waiting….

  22. Also, I just realized that your Flickr content is still ARR. You know, you are talking about making these changes next year but with a few clicks of a button, you can make it all CC right now.

    Also, you say:
    “I’ve found that the more I give away my content, the more magical stuff happens”

    Clearly the old adage (“Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.”) is meaningless to you. Do you really believe you are so wise? If so, I double dare you. No. I triple dog dare you to make all of your photographs give-a-away boobie prizes. I have given away content for free and it rarely, if ever brings more exposure. I’m not saying you are a bad photographer, but people expect things for free, maybe more now than ever.

    Finally, you say:

    “…today I have a little less competition from Lane, who was a great photographer but who’s work will be hard to discover now.”

    You must admit — some of what you say is a bit conceited. Will it really be harder to discover? Maintaining image control is vital to some customers. But then, maybe Jay Z was wrong about all that licensing stuff. How much money does he have now? Oh nevermind…

    Lane is a fantastic photographer who has clearly documented her abilities and has a proven track record. If this were a competition, and maybe it is, I wouldn’t get too far ahead of your new photography career with this spin. Owning a 5D does not make one a great, or even good, photographer all buy itself. And selling a few image trinkets here and there, while bad mouthing another fully professional photographer, is hardly putting yourself in some glowing spotlight. Rather, what you have seemed to achieve is an article that brings you to light in the mythical land of Internet famedom. Congratulations.

    Oh, and by the way, do tell me when you make your content free for the taking and when it brings you the riches. I’m waiting….

  23. Robert, when you say you want people to “steal my content,” you are just being a hypocrite…right? I mean, it clearly states on your right panel:

    “© Copyright 2007 Robert Scoble”

    You should really change that if you seriously believe the BS you have written.

    John

  24. Robert, when you say you want people to “steal my content,” you are just being a hypocrite…right? I mean, it clearly states on your right panel:

    “© Copyright 2007 Robert Scoble”

    You should really change that if you seriously believe the BS you have written.

    John

  25. Robert, you need to put your money where your mouth is and give your book away for free. Don’t think we don’t all see it up there in the corner with the Amazon pricetag. In fact, give everything away for free. I challenge you. I think you should have a big open house where you invite all your readers to take whatever they want from your home. Then we’ll move to your intellectual property (and I’m being very generous with that description) and you can give that away too. I have dibs on your Canon 5D…I know photography is your new career now since you sold a few photos, but I promise, magical things will happen if you give it to me.

  26. Robert, you need to put your money where your mouth is and give your book away for free. Don’t think we don’t all see it up there in the corner with the Amazon pricetag. In fact, give everything away for free. I challenge you. I think you should have a big open house where you invite all your readers to take whatever they want from your home. Then we’ll move to your intellectual property (and I’m being very generous with that description) and you can give that away too. I have dibs on your Canon 5D…I know photography is your new career now since you sold a few photos, but I promise, magical things will happen if you give it to me.

  27. Robert, when you say you’ll make your video shows available under the CC license, do you mean including all the PodTech work you’ve done, or only the post-PodTech video?

  28. Robert, when you say you’ll make your video shows available under the CC license, do you mean including all the PodTech work you’ve done, or only the post-PodTech video?

  29. i guess technology enables us to “steal me” but it also teaches a new generation of people how to appreciate people’s comments and other people’s intellectual property. With new technology comes the good and evil and i guess as long as we responsibly quote and cite the original content owner like an academic paper it should be ok. Technology will enables us to share information and learn more…

  30. i guess technology enables us to “steal me” but it also teaches a new generation of people how to appreciate people’s comments and other people’s intellectual property. With new technology comes the good and evil and i guess as long as we responsibly quote and cite the original content owner like an academic paper it should be ok. Technology will enables us to share information and learn more…

  31. The consistent theme seems to be that it’s ok if properly credit the artist . . . with some exceptions for really valuable.

    “Credit” in the google economy means links, plain and simple. A big improvement would be to make sure that everyone can 1) have visibility into where their content is copied and 2) for those less interested in direct monetization, ensure that link credit is given back or 3) for those whose income depends on direct monetization, offer a license for payment

    more thoughts on this topic here http://attributor.com/blog/?p=26

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