A Photographer’s Perspective on SOPA

Posted on January 20, 2012


Hi Everyone –

Credit: Mad In Crafts
Word around the web today is that the SOPA bill has been pulled due to the outcry across the internet this week.  Though I have yet to confirm this rumor, I have a feeling that SOPA, PIPA, and bills like it have only began to rear their heads in our government.  As a photographer, I have mixed feelings about this bill.  I am 100% against it.  However as a person who posts their work on the internet, it has made me take a step back and look at why a bill like this could be supported by some industries, including my own.
Don’t  know what SOPA is? Visit the Wall Street Journal for comprehensive overview of the bill.

I have heard too many stories from friends, fellow colleagues, and strangers across the web – all photographers – who have come across their own copyrighted work uncredited on some stranger’s website. Bottom line:  Unless a person has permission to share or use an image and/or credit has been given, then it’s basically stealing.  Now we can all admit that it’s easy to go to Google Images and yank a photo off the web with a simple right click.  I’ve done it.  Heck, I did it in this post.  But you must give credit where credit is due and sometimes, credit and money is due.  A lot of hard work, time, and money have gone into these creative endeavors.  

Now, while I think that some day there should be stricter laws surrounding copyrighted materials, I do not think that the solution in the SOPA bill is the answer.  How do you find the balance between protecting your work and protecting your constitutional rights?  I don’t have the answer to that.  I have simply made it more difficult for people to steal my work.  I use watermarks, low resolution photos, and disable right clicking on my website.  With that said, people can crop photos to remove watermarks and may not need high resolution photos for their own site.  And who knows, maybe you can screen shot my work and print it with a color printer.  Any way you look at it, the only safe way to protect your photos is to not put them online at all – but then how do you get your work out  there?  It’s a battle.  For great tips on protecting your photos online, visit NatureFocused.com’s article.
So that’s my opinion on the matter. SOPA is out of line and I can say that because we have free speech and the ability to voice our opinions online.  Does it bring an issue dear to my heart to the surface? Absolutely.  So, fellow bloggers, photographers, and artists, how will we contend with this?  I will end my post today with an article written by musicians, artists, and creative types in Hollywood who echo my sentiments on Goodreads.com.
Let me know your thoughts and Happy Blogging and Photographing!

%A.L. Kohlmann