(the rafts at night on the Swimming Cities of the Switchback Sea)

I don't typically use this blog for personal rants, but I'm going to break that rule. The wonderful world of the internet and flickr has given rise to a huge amount of readily available images. As online self-publishing grows, so does the need for content, such as snazy imagery. Most people have come to the understanding that if you are going to lift someone's image, and not ask permission, you provide a credit and a link to the creator. This avoids pissing off the person you are "borrowing" from by promoting them, and in most people's minds doesn't constitute stealing if you provide credit.

However, then there are apparent jerks like Jamie O'Shea who not only repeatedly use people's images without credit, but will actually go to the effort to capture a non-downloadable image and then crop out someone's watermark to remove the credit put there by the artist (in this case, mine). That's not just being careless or lazy, that's actually making a conscious effort to obscure the artist's identity from their work. That's stealing. Of course if people didn't steal images, who would need to put their name on their photo in the first place? One would think that as the previous editor of Juxtapoz he would have a bit more respect for artists. Especially if this person said something like, "Everything is artist driven. I work as a liaison and advocate for artists in corporate culture."

Between this sort of crap and the looming Orphan Works bill, I am really wondering about continuing to put so much of my work out in the public realm. Once someone grabs an unmarked image off of a website and posts it to their own without credit, and then someone grabs it off of that site and posts it to a forum somewhere, etc... it's too late. Toss in the loss of the original file name due to blog-hosting renaming procedure and the image quickly becomes an orphan. So even if an interested party did want to license the image (and not just automatically claim to have already made a "reasonably diligent search" before using it without permission) it really does become difficult at this point to track down the origin. And as a friend of mine put it to me while we were talking about making a living as an artist and selling prints: "Why would I buy one of your photographs when I can get them for free on your site?" Good question.

I have asked Mr. O'Shea several times (sorta nicely) that the image be removed from his site, no response. Comments left by friends have been moderated into limbo. So I offer this to the court of public opinion: Is it okay to remove a watermark from an image you grabbed without requesting permission and then use it on your website?


• Smog - Cold Blooded Old Times

A band's place in myspace.


  1. FUCK NO! fuck that guy.

  2. that's absolutely pathetic. not to mention scary.

  3. SO not okay.
    Althogh still not okay, at least most people will ask and give a photo credit... but cutting out your watermark and not giving credit? that is f-ing ridiculous and outright stealing.

  4. I've got the same problem with Jamie stealing my photos with no photo credit.

  5. It's really discouraging when that happens, but as things are right now i think the pros probably outweigh the cons on the internet.

    Unless people are actually reselling your prints and you're being maliciously attacked like that, I think you probably get more exposure as a photographer for being online.

    I don't even remember how I heard about your photography, but I must have liked your blog because I subscribed to it. That's you getting your name out there (even though I don't know your name except as "sucka pants"), and i could hypothetically tell other people about it, or send them links to photos i like, or something like that.

    It's something we're going to have to figure out in time since there's no real business model for it. If you decide to take down your internet stuff, I'll miss it.

    Anyway, fuck that guy. Good luck.

  6. It is unlawful. He is stealing your intellectual property. That said, the damages you suffered may not be worth raising it to a truly nasty level, but you could.

  7. Tod,

    I found your stuff through Homegrown Evolution and it makes me feel like I am there with the people in the images. I’m not an artist or even someone I would consider an art lover, just some cube monkey making a living, but you stuff is something I look forward to every few days. I hope you keep it up and keep adding to it. If you ever have a show on the west coast I’ll be there.

    If you shut it down I understand. People are, for the most part, predatory and lazy. It’s always some butt log with legs that co-opts something good for their own to the detriment of the masses.

    Good luck.

  8. Lame, dude. Not reading that asshole's blog anymore.

  9. completely agreed with all of the above, especially as a fan of your work. there is clearly no reason for him to be so aggressively opposed to giving credit where it is due (and, previously, watermarked).

    but to play devil's advocate: what does it say when you end such a post (or all posts) by offering a free mp3?

    different but similar..

  10. theartcollectors9/09/2008 8:44 PM

    questionable for sure. What's worse, is that he didnt just lift a photo from a fellow blogger who took a pic primarily for editorial purposes, but from an artist directly involved with Swimming Cities, whose photos are part of a larger body of artistic work. As someone who calls himself an artist advocate, i hope he comes around on this. On a side note, props on your Cinders show - it was great.

  11. in this recent post at ST, he chose to leave the watermark and a link for a photographer.

  12. I'm not saying I plan to shut down, just maybe reconsider how much of my work I put up. Maybe have to keep it selective and sparse, more like my other photo sites ofquiet.com and everydayilive.com.

    And to .said about the mp3s, I understand what you are saying. The difference in my mind is that I am not only crediting the musicians, but am promoting them by providing direct links to them on the page. I get way more emails thanking me for turning people on to bands they hadn't heard of than I get asking me to remove a track (2 of those total to date). Early on in their careers I posted music from friends of mine like Matt & Kim, CSS, Parts & Labor, The Death Set, O'Death, St. Vincent, Team Robespierre and others, and now you know who I am talking about. I'd like to think that blogs do help unknown musicians get more fans and more recognition. As long as you are only posting one track, you are promoting and not pirating.

  13. you're right, tod.

    fuck that thief. fuck him right in his mouth.

    PS. dont ever stop posting. dont ever stop sharing your shit. people will buy your photos because they're fantastic and thats that. print them huge and sell them accordingly. if people want to grab a jpeg for their desktop, you should remember that sharing is caring and so on and so forth. you are in this life of sharing the images, in one shape or another, for one reason or another. the more eyes, the better.

    just keep getting bigger and always hold the grudge in cold storage. dont think about it, dont talk about it, and if you ever have the chance to destroy him or ruin him or put him in a situation that makes his year a pig fuck... do it.

    that was a long p.s. huh?

  14. this is the first i've ever heard of his shitty blog. seems like a name-dropping douchebag. i'd guess he's got a small dick too. half of his content is re-postings of ny times articles!

    i think your most pirated photo of all time is the f-ck/kill one -- you need a sucka police force just for that photo.

    i'll stop by and see ya tonight sucka at the show!

  15. Well, here's one small, uh, consolation: if the current doomsaying about the imminent death of net neutrality is true, then at least it'll be a lot harder for people to poach other's work, orphaned or not.


    And yes, O'Shea is a shitstick.

  16. Pirate Jenny9/13/2008 4:15 PM

    I left a comment on that story, asking for the photos to be credited, and *poof*, the comment is gone.

    What a douche.

  17. hold steady for the future. it's gonna hurt, but the truth always lives in our hearts.

    while i read this post, my itunes party shuffle (random play) put on a SMOG song. coincidence? perhaps, but i love cold blooded old times.

    new orleans.

  18. Tod, i love your work, spirit and taste. and i find this bad online neighbor as despicable as anyone else with a sense of what's right. but you also complain about your business model from time to time seemingly without changing tack. playing martyr will only earn you consolation from your friends and fans. better to be out there taking pictures than defensive, policing your own work and cursing the diffracted landscape you operate within.

    yes, your business may not be an easy one, but the online tools you use well towards greater awareness could be used better for actually earning income. instead of waiting for one big payday, you're missing out on smaller ones that, once collected, could amount to something. i've written you before asking to buy a photograph of myself at a show (genghis tron). cash for your work. found easily among your photos, with confidence that it would be there. no, i'm not some old media magazine ready to pay larger sums, although hardly read by anyone that actually goes to show. you're ignoring smaller-paying customers behind you AT the show. instead of focusing on big-payday media buyers, have a look behind you. as a fan, i'm just saying i think it's worth considering a larger market...

  19. Hey hudson,

    I'll have to admit, I don't really understand some of what you are referring to in your comment. A "business model?" As far as I understand this is a blog to share and promote my work, but there's not any real business there. I would love to sell prints to fans and people who are a part of what I shoot, but it's not a realistic source of income (consistent or not).

    Sadly policing your own work has always been part of the job description of a photographer. Because it's not a "diffracted landscape" that's the problem, it's the disrespectful thieves. Should I have to sacrifice compensation for the work I do as the price for sharing my work online?

    The martyr stab was a bit low. Just because you are a victim on some level doesn't mean you become a martyr when you address it directly.

    And I remember you requesting to purchase a print from the Genghis Tron show. I wrote you back and never received a reply, I assumed you had lost interest. If you still want one, hit me up.

  20. Thanks, Tod. perhaps i should *not* comment on blogs after coming home from the bars. By business model and all the jumbled and unclear points, i just mean that it pays to broaden your market in whatever you do. in the face of clear challenges to make a living as a photographer, be as flexible and as creative as possible. take, for instance, the photo collective founded by henri cartier-bresson and friends. they may have taken the world's most iconic and important photographs, but their business + organization was inflexible and slow to react to the changing landscape. Point: be open and dont underestimate what may seem to be unrealistic sources of income. (unsure how i dug myself into all this)
    And of course, it's right to speak your mind about the piracy; my apologies for the martyr comment. i just want to see your success equal to the number of fans you have, which in my estimation would be huge. was eager to hear from you on the genghis pic but never did, so it must have been a technical fluke. i'll write again to purchase. woohoo, over and out!

  21. One solution is to do the 1-2% watermark over the whole image. It doesn't visually show, but you can demonstrate by downloading and thresholding it to show a distinct watermark.