the ugly inside orkut
EDIT: Okay you guys, please if you’ve downloaded a picture off my blog to use as your computer background, save to your phone, or just accidentally right clicked a few times… understand that those things are vastly different than using my kids’ faces as your fake profile (I think we can all agree the Orkut thing is more than a little creepy). I’m feeling like a nasty photo nazi after the sweet messages I’ve received today from friends “confessing” to using pictures off my blog.
I don’t want to retract anything I wrote below, but I do want to clarify that my beef is with the Orkut traffic ONLY. Individuals in Brazil, referred to my blog from the Orkut site, raise a red flag. That’s what I watch for. And posting a note here is the only way to get a message to them. That, or let them go on thinking I’m not aware of what’s happening. So, that said, thanks for walking on eggshells for me today, but know it’s totally unnecessary. I’m not hunting you down, I promise! In fact, I wouldn’t have even known if you hadn’t told me.
ps. no more shocking posts for a while! I’m hanging up my scary hat.
I feel the need to explain about my post Tuesday night. You know, the one where I sounded like a raving lunatic. Or like the seagulls from Finding Nemo—"Mine, mine, mine. The pictures are MINE!”
Oh, you say, that post.
So back in April a fellow photographer brought to my attention that photographs were being stolen off my blog and used on the social networking site called Orkut. I think the Orkut site is like Google’s version of Facebook or Myspace, except it is far less popular in the United States. But it is very well known in almost every photography circle out there, because so many of us have had our pictures stolen and used on this site. Apparently it is “cool” for kids (mostly tweeny girls) in other countries (specifically Brazil) to create fake profiles on Orkut. There they upload stolen pictures of gorgeous American children and pretend they are their own. Like “look, ‘my’ kid is cuter than yours” or some similar nonsense.
When I learned about this months ago I took steps to prevent further theft on my blog. You may have noticed that the current pictures cannot be right-click copied and also have a watermark in the lower right corner. But this doesn’t solve the problem with the past photos. And for eight months I’ve dealt with daily traffic from Brazilian Orkut pirates. I like to think they give up after realizing it’s not as easy as they thought it would be. Most hit my blog once and move on. Others, like the one Tuesday night, are more persistent. They literally spend hours scrolling through my archives clicking and clicking on pictures until they find some that are downloadable.
Ridiculous and confounding.
I’ve held off on airing this dirty laundry on my blog for months, but Tuesday night was the straw that broke this protective mother’s back. I’ve had it up to here. And I won’t tolerate it any longer.
The only way for me to be sure my pictures are safe, is to make them less appealing to download. A lot of photographers employ a larger watermark like this:
But covering the faces is probably more effective:
Because I think it defeats the purpose of my blog to only post pictures with enormous/obnoxious watermarks, I will opt to NOT post ANY pictures at all, if that’s what it takes. Additionally, I’m prepared to delete every. single. post. out of my archives if the Brazilian Orkut traffic here doesn’t cease immediately.
Am I being too extreme? Maybe
Does the download and use of these photographs harm my children? Probably not.
Does it still royally piss me off? Absolutely.
Stealing is stealing is stealing. It’s wrong no matter which way you slice it.
There is sooo much chatter about this issue among the photography community. We’ve been accused of blowing it out of proportion because, as one guy put it, “If you put your pictures on the internet, you are asking to have them stolen.” Um, excuse me, but that’s like saying “If you drive your car to Walmart, you’re asking to have a wreck.” I have NEVER asked for my pictures to be stolen. And I should not have to close down my blog simply because Google is too lazy to police their community.
Google needs to shut this down. Yesterday. There are thousands upon thousands of fake profiles on this site utilizing stolen photos, and something must be done. In the meantime I have this to say to the girls in Brazil:
While I should maybe be flattered that you apparently envy my children and my life enough to waste hours of your own, I am NOT flattered. I’m mad. And you’ve picked the wrong photographer to rub noses with. Get out of my life and get your own.