Overuse of a word can lead to a desensitization of its meaning. ‘Theft,’ isn’t immune, but it still leaves a bitter aftertaste. As creatives, we are both creators and consumers of content, and ‘theft’ is always hanging over and around us, even guised in terms like ‘misappropriation.’ Imagery is as powerful a means of communication, as the word ever was, and is a pillar of communication. Image use has metastasized, arguably exponentially over the past decade, and that means there are more creators and places to draw images from, and more consumers looking for it. It seems as though this type of content has become a victim of its own success as it’s altogether too easy to ‘misappropriate’ without penalty, and eventually that could lead to a dilution of the quality pool.
The licensing tool IMGembed has recently released a white paper with some bold statements and figures. Amazingly, as bold as they are, they are not surprising. The big number that stands out is 85%. That’s the figure they say represents the amount of images online being used without permission. Of course, they then go on to suggest how their service with a way forward to limit that, and tip the scales in favor of ‘fairness.’
They do not offer any breakdown of how that figure was generated, but do list some other enormous figures to show how many images are uploaded daily to many platforms. It also goes on to explain some major reasons why there is this issue, listing among them citing copyright trolling, time constraints, market confusion as to where to get images from legally, and of course, the low risk of getting caught and charged.
The system they provide does seem elegant, simple, and a step forward and is part of a growing trend towards licensing sites implementing embed tools which also make sharing trackable in many cases, rather than direct downloads. Getty is the most obvious recent adopter and Flickr has also changed its embedding options.
First and foremost, that 85% stands out for me. Why? Because I think they’re lowballing. It’s hardly a secret that blog posts on tumblr, Facebook, regards on Instagram, etc go without permission or appropriation. The entire business model has to shift, and this is something I’ll likely be addressing at a later time. Just like the music industry a few years back, our industry is at a crux.
Regarding IMGembed, it seems like an elegant tool and I’m actually going to sign up for it to play around and see how it is. I think it has its problems, but it does give a use a good amount of control. The only immediate issue I see that’s glaring is embedding in the first place. Many sites aren’t up to scratch in that department, and don’t support image embedding easily. Many still require the original image to generate a thumbnail and pre-view, which this system won’t cure.
Via: Design Taxi