As promised, here are the topics you asked me to discuss on Instagram. I'll be discussing each of these topics in videos on my page @rachaellynnreynolds as well as writing blog posts about the same content. Fill out the form below to subscribe to my blog, My Thoughts & Such.
Short answer: Totally. Yes. All of the time.
This is something very frustrating to me and many artists. Whenever this happens I immediately go into defense mode. Who does this person or company think they are? Do they understand what they are doing? How many people have this very image circulating their content? Are they profiting off of MY work? Let's break these things down real quick:
Any use of artwork without the written permission of an artist or proper credit given to the artist is stealing their work. There are hundreds of creatives who have written online about this happening to them. Anyone from a couple hundred followers to hundreds of thousands, all of us have it happen. This is our intellectual and creative property. Just as is is illegal to copy someone's written text without citation, it is illegal to pose creative work as your own.
The most common way that this happens to me specifically is on Instagram. People will screen shot my photo, repost it, and not give me credit. ALL. THE. TIME. There are a world of things that are wrong with this. I've had accounts who have 30k followers or more post my photos. They are literally profiting off of the advantage my property gives to their account.
What takes it a step farther is when organizations, whom I have worked with or not, use my photographs for their gain. If an artist has not given you or your organization WRITTEN PERMISSION to use their work, you are acting illegally. More often than not, individuals think because they have worked with an artist in the past, they automatically have free reign of their creative works. Correction: they do not. You MUST obtain permission and if asked by the artist, you MUST give credit to them when distributing their work in anyway. My personal policy when contacted about this is that my full name, my website or my Instagram must be sourced where consumers can visibly see it. This is my right as a creator.
Some of the measures I take to prevent the improper use of my work are NEVER uploading any images in high resolution, disabling right clicking on my website, using Copyright©️ notices when I am able, and staying on top of my images. I utilize reverse image search and my followers have actually sent me quite a few that I have been able to correct.
I work very hard to protect my craft. I have put hundreds of hours, maybe thousands, into my work, website and its store. I sell prints because it is something that interest was shown in and it has done so much better than I could have imagined. BUT I am still building a business, I am still building my reputation and career.
When I notice or someone kindly points out to me that someone has been trying to pass my work as their own, I typically reach out to ask for a correction first. This is tricky because you want to let this person know you are pissed, you are willing to take further action, but you also want to be kind. Well, at least I want to. Depending on the situation, the level of "benefit of the doubt" I am willing to give varies. If it's just some random middle aged man with 73 followers, who just thinks my photographs are cool, I am going to be a heck of a lot more sympathetic with that individual than say a "Insta influencer." Sometimes this first step does not work. I've been harassed, blocked, reported, you name it. It's like the individual is embarrassed they got caught so they just try to hide it. Honestly, people, you think I haven't fully screen shot everything, saved URLs, and documented proof it is mine before I reached out? Come on.
SO, if plan A does not work, I take all of the next steps to ensure proper credit is given or the post is removed. Instagram has great copyright and intellectual property policies. They make it very easy to get a post removed if you're not comfortable with it. I also file a DMCA with Google which prevents their postings from showing up when searched. In one case where my photographs were listed FOR SALE on another print shop, I have had to go through the 8 month process of copyright registering an image to send a document to an individual letting them know that lawyers were getting involved if it was not removed.
Some other ways people have prevented this from happening are by using watermarks. I find this pointless. First, to make it difficult to remove a watermark, you have to run it through the most interesting part of the photograph. And even when that is the case, it is still stupid easy to remove them in photoshop. I am not going to sacrifice the viewers ability to experience my work, for the .1% of thieves it would protect me against.
Here's the funniest thing about all of this: I never post high resolution photographs on the internet. I size every image down to 6x9. Any attempt at printing these photographs, they are going to come out like trash. When you buy a print off of my shop, the file used to print it could be blown up the size of a bill board. Let's talk about CRISP. In all honestly, HOW DARE YOU THIEVES JUST TRASH MY WORK IN SUCH A MANNER AND SHARE IT IN SUCH A TERRIBLE STATE. Embarrassing. Please don't even get me started on people putting disgusting filters on top of my work. That's just plain disrespectful.
What can you do to help? If you ever notice any artist's work being used without their credit, send the link and a screen shot directly to that artist. If you have any custom pieces, commissions, prints, anything purchased from an artist. Always, always, always tag that artist. This could range from an oil painting commissioned of your loved ones, to family portraits you had done, to earrings you bought from an artist. All of those pieces deserve to have credit.
This seemed like kind of a negative post but I think it is a good one to start off on. There are so many wonderful sides to being an artist, this is definitely one of the worst. Next week I'll share one of my favorite parts!
Keep it real, guys.
Welcome to my thoughts & such. According to Meyers-Briggs, I am a strong ENTP, with a 49% introvert rating (??). They say I am a debater. Which is incredibly true - however, most of those debates occur in my own head. I spend a great deal of my days thinking about creativity, existentialism, nature and how all of that ties together. I thought I would make a space to put some of those thoughts down.