Reposting Images

Have been grappling with the question of whether it should be okay to inline an artist’s image in my weblog, when relevant to a post.

Whether I inline an image from someone else’s web site or host a copy of the image on my server, I am helping myself to your “stuff” – either your bandwidth or your intellectual property. Are you concerned about bandwidth? If you’re like most webmasters, you like traffic. Presumably, you put that content online because you wanted it to be viewed by as many people as possible. You (or your work) craves attention. If you didn’t want it widely viewed, you wouldn’t have put it online to begin with. I think that’s fair to say. So if your goal is to have your content seen, why should you care whether it gets seen via my server or yours, my bandwidth or yours? The important thing is that it’s credited to the appropriate author/artist, right?

This is tricky stuff, because the whole notion of copyright is predicated on the right to copy – to keep a modicum of control in the hands of the artist. How can the artist maintain control of something that is not hosted on his/her own server?

On the other hand, can one hope to maintain control of something on the internet at all? I think the answer is probably… no. And yet I am not yet willing to let go of the notion that the artist is entitled to control his/her own work, even after s/he’s put it out there for public consumption. In the end, I think it’s ultimately harmless if I copy your image, host it on my site, and serve it up in my own pages, as long as I give you appropriate credit. The trouble with that is that you are depending on me to give you credit – the artist is at the mercy of other webmasters. And what if I don’t give you credit? Can you control that? Nope. But you can hope for a world where respect counts for something. On that note, I have decided it’s probably okay to repost copyrighted works in my weblog without seeking permission, but with credit. I know that’s not what copyright law says. It’s what I think is morally acceptable.

Music: Rachels :: Third Self-Portrait Series

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