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Submitted on
March 28


48,570 (84 today)
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I post stuff here, on fetlife, and on tumblr. Well, I used to - now I hardly do at all.

Not because of copyright. I understand that when you post something on the internet, you're posting it for everyone to look at, and it's going to get shared around. But the comped-up piece of shit you see above (minus my commentary) is all over the internet - it's far more widely distributed than my original version. Back when I used to read my messages here and on Fetlife, I had 12-20 messages per day about stuff like this. Mostly it was people trying to be helpful and telling me "HEY! Look over here, there's another person who smeared shit all over your art!"  And it used to take me an hour every morning to cut and paste URLs into DMCA requests to get this kind of crap taken down.

Welcome to the Internet - 1 by mjranum

But that's really only the tip of the emotional iceberg for me. About 1 in 10 times that I post a DMCA I'd get a message from the person who had posted it. So not only would my inbox be filled with woe from all the copyright violations, I'd get a breakdown approximately as follows:
10% You #*!@&^!ing @#*&!@! I hope your !&*!&^# falls off and you die of cancer!!!
30% By posting an image on the internet it's in the public domain (followed by 3 pages of complete wrongness about copyright)
30% You can't make me stop! Nyaa nyaa nyaa fuck you nyaa nyaa!
20% A lecture about how mean and rude I am
5% A genuine apology
5% Well, I like it anyway, so in spite of your having complained to me and explained why you don't like it, is it OK if I keep it up? (completely clueless in other words)

Understand, as I do, that that's a small percentage of a small percentage of all the people who share my images around. But with the size of the population on the internet, it's a large number in total. On a site like Fetlife, that equates to about 100 threatening or angry emails a year. Yeah, it really makes me feel appreciated.

I set that against the times when someone comes up to me at a conference and says "dude, I love your photography!" or I get an email from someone asking please please please for a high resolution version of the file because they want to make a big print of it and frame it for their sweetie. Or, the occasional emails where someone thanks me for my stock photography helping them get a cover gig for their first book cover. Those are great. I love those moments. But they sure as hell aren't as often as the angry, petulant, bratty, or downright snotty lectures I get from ignoramuses who want to hide behind their personal interpretation of copyright law (which, by the way, is universally wrong) or who are incapable of saying "I'm sorry."

Welcome to the Internet - 2 by mjranum

Let me tell you a true story: one of the better online friends I made on Deviantart is someone I got to know because they ripped off one of my artworks and photoshopped on it (brilliantly) to turn it into a photocomposite. I told them they couldn't do that, and they said they loved my stuff, and I suggested they use a different image - here - ... and we were off to the races. We've been swapping ideas and I've been shooting custom stock for them ever since; It's a positive and nurturing creative collaboration.

You see, I'm not some ogre. I want to get my art on just like you. But I am increasingly feeling backed into a corner. I got into doing the wet plates because a) it's cool  b) I get to work with nasty dangerous stuff  c) it looks awesome   d) you cannot duplicate a plate; it's a unique artwork. I started doing wet plates in order to protect myself emotionally and to protect my art. Oh, want to know how that turned out? Some cheese-brain was taking the scans I post of my wet plates and removing my art from them, so he could use the edges in his images because, yeah, they look cool!! He. Threw. My. Art. Away. Because. The. Only. Part. That. Was. Useable. Was. The. Edges. I almost offered him a wet plate so I could get his address and go talk to him about it face to face.

These are the emotional trade-offs I'm up against. I've finally had to confront the fact that if I want to keep posting stuff on the internet, I'm going to have to utterly concede to the faceless horde out there. I will have to either stop altogether or give it all away. Not just give it away technically, give it away emotionally. And that's the problem: if I don't care, it's not going to be any good.

Submission - 1 by mjranum

If I didn't give a shit how my photography looked, I wouldn't give a shit about someone photoshopping their bad high school poetry over top of it. I wouldn't argue with them. I'd just have to lie there and take it, and I know that eventually it's going to mean creative death for me. Perhaps where I am headed is toward making photos just for myself, and not sharing them with anyone. That's sort of where I am, already. I have boxes and boxes of wet plates on a shelf over at my studio. There, they sit. I have tens of thousands of digital images on my hard drive(s). There, they sit. I am frozen at the perfect apex between anger, disgust, and the desire to quit.
  • Mood: Torment
  • Listening to: My computer fan
  • Watching: my laptop
  • Playing: at being human
  • Eating: as little as possible
  • Drinking: tea
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Hadakajime Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014
I found your post very interesting, with the key point for myself being:
"And that's the problem: if I don't care, it's not going to be any good."

That is so compelling in describing the mechanics of everything about the situation - causes, reactions, psychology, etc. Everything all boils down to this. It's inextricable.

Posted to facebook for awareness
angelGraham Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hugs. So sorry you are dealing with this.
Mfenberg Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Professional Photographer
ugh..  I don't have it quite as bad as you because I try hard to be mostly oblivious to what happens to my stuff because when i RAGE!!! its bad for me.  Sigh..  but yeah... what you said.  
Akemisatya Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Professional Photographer
nooooooooo ugh
JustmeTD Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Kinda makes you wish you knew where he lives so you could go over and take the tires and wheels off his car, with him watching, because you like his wheels . And then have a tow truck come and haul the rest of the car away to be smashed. You got what you wanted , right! So just throw the rest away. 
  Showing off your/our work is the biggest part of the payoff .  Then to have it stolen and then find it again in the hands of some shmuck . 
Well, I join with you in being pissed . 
  Your work is awesome ! I know it is or folks wouldn't steal it . That sucks , but there it is. Hang in there, and good luck. My best to you and yours .
sekky Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was an emotional read and I'm sorry for the stress that follows when posting your work/sharing it with us. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the issues great artists face with creative theft and how demoralizing it can be but I didn't really have the picture painted as perfectly as your journal did. "He. Threw. My. Art. Away. Because. The. Only. Part. That. Was. Useable. Was. The. Edges." That part really got to me, that just sucks so bad... Gosh. I wish you the best luck in all your work, and don't let them suck the creativity out of you...
FallonRay Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am so sorry you deal with so much tripe and idiocy. I will simply say that I use your work on occasion for my own enjoyment and likely have not properly thanked you. So THANK YOU so so so much for all you have shared. You are a badass Ninja-level photographer and I have very much enjoyed having had the privilege of using and even simply browsing your great work. I will greatly miss what you do.
stonedInc Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I work in an ad-works company, the usual motto within the office and in the locality around here is- if the artist does not know that we've used it, then it's kewl.

It's kinda disturbing, I have mentioned more than once that we need to give something to these artists from whom we take these pictures, their time, work and thought process is unique and most have painstakingly achieved whatever they have- from a talent and creativity point -over a long period of time. So, let's not be disrespectful, do you know what I got in return as a response, "meh".

It is a fucked up world!
onlycomeoutatnight Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you, sir, for lending us all your stock images. Thank you for inspiring us with these tools for creation...especially since so many of us do not have access to models regularly, and because your stock images are SO damn good.

And THANK YOU even more for your art. It inspires. It motivates. It lightens the mood, or darkens it...and communicates ideas far beyond the reaches of paper or pen or internet alone. It is transformative. It conveys and deconstructs and re-imagines and twists...

I don't blame you at all for never sharing another piece of art after this repeated violation and the frustration...I get it, I really do. But if you decide to keep sending us your art, sending us messages and letting us into your creative world...I'd be personally thrilled. Please just know that it matters to us, to the ones NOT stealing from matters. Your art is a big deal. Thank you for sharing what you have already...anything you decide to share from here on out is also a big deal. Please...know I appreciate what you've done so much. Thank you.
And now I see your "no photomanipuations and no overlaying text" policy back from 2008… .  Law aside, respecting that would have been courteous at the very least.  The author of the poem above has deleted her post, so I can't see whether she at least acknowledged where she got the photo.
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