APE, has a post up about fair use and blogging. His blog has been an excellent resource for photographers to learn about their rights and usage laws. I think most Photo Editors, like Rob, are very supportive of photographers rights, despite the crazy ideas of the corporations they work for. But in terms of usage rights, commercial photography is a completely different world. When you come from a background where images are created as a commercial transaction from their inception, they are inherently a type of product, and those creating them are completely justified to be concerned about where they are re-used. As an artist, I am often more concerned with getting my work seen, then being paid for it, just look at my bank account! To me the blog world exists outside of the commercial usage bylaws. No one I know, really makes their living from their blog, nor do they make a cent of the images they feature on their blogs. Even if they have ads banners, they are still not directly profiting form the image usage.
The internet has dramatically transformed how we experience imagery. Any image that is 100 dpi or less, is a really like a photocopy. It exists only on a screen, and it is almost a place holder for the actual image. I think there is room in our culture to both retain the value of the fine-art print, the photo book, and the printed magazine, while still enjoying the unfettered accessibility of google image search. As this is a developing world, I applaud Rob for bringing up this very important issue and he is mostly right on, but perhaps he is a bit overzealous:
The absolute best practice for using photography that doesn’t belong to you is to ask for permission first.
Oh, you thought there was more? Email or call the photographer and ask for permission. It’s that simple.
I think here later in his post he gets closer to a realistic and acceptable guideline:
Always include the photographers name and links to both the image(s) you are writing about and their portfolio in your story or in the caption to the image.
In a way, the blogs, and online resources only wet our appetites to see more. But this does not mean that we should use images without any structure, as long as bloggers are responsible and credit the photographer by name, and include a link to their website or gallery, I think the benefit far outweighs any copyright issue. The only time copyright becomes an issue is if an image is in an online magazine or formal exhibition. I would never feel comfortable including an artist on Women in Photography for instance without their permission and involvement. However on Ground Glass, I would find it strange to email PL di Corcia to ask to feature his images. But any more than a link to their site and a name credit and I would probably not have time to write my blog posts. What is most important is the name and a way to find the photographer. I can easily post my blog stats that show huge boosts in my traffic when other blogs, like Conscientious, I heart Photograph, and APE have mentioned me with a link. So thank you Rob for bringing this up, it is an important, but I also do not want to see an over limiting of the blogosphere. There should be a happy medium. As long as I do not see one of my images being used to sell something with a logo attached, I am happy to see it out there in cyberspace. Yes there are risks, however I have experienced the incredible benefits from being featured on blogs.