In March, I saw a cool photo on flickr. I liked it. I output a print of it. Pretty, I said. Maybe I can collage on this someday...
In September, I am sitting at my desk working on the final pages of my collage story book. The flickr pic rises to the surface of my massive pile of ephemera and I like it. I put it down on the table and made a collage on top of it. Yay! The last page is done!
I am excited to have finished my book at last! I post the image to flickr. In order to show how the work I do evolves, I go thru the effort to look thru flickr and find the image that I used...and I post a link to it on flickr.
I get a comment from the photographer.
"i will be honest with you.
im glad that the photo moved you and inspired you, i also appreciate the credit in the page. however you should have asked for my permission before you used my picture. this photo is licensed "all rights reserved" and i love it very much.
you really should look if the photo is licensed for free using or not. i only allow several pictures to be "creative common" (that meens - free to use) and those are for the use of other artists. i also love contributing for other artists, and i have done it in the past.
it also looks quite strange that your license for this collage is "all rights reserved". because it's not. some of it are my rights.
im sorry to say, but this is my art, and this photo is quite significant for me, it is mine to keep and to share, and i didn't share it. if i was to see the collage one day in a gallery, i would be very pissed.
i was ofended in the begining, but now im okay.
i allow you to use it, just for this time and cause, because i see you use it for a good cause, and that creation and art matters to you.
however, i do not grant you permission to use this photo for commercial needs. that meens you can't sell the photo or art with the photo in any way, or exhibit it outside of flickr.
i can only advise you - next time be conciderate of the artists you want to use their materials. it meens much, because an artist gives birth to his creation, and to the artist, the art piece is significant as a child sometimes.
i wish you wisdom."
(I am removing the names of people so that I don't upset anyone. This post is for principles only)
My blood pressure rises. My hands start shaking. I have to settle down in order to even think about this. I hastily typed this reply:
"I am really kind of puzzled over your response, let me be honest.
I do collage art and I am Never going to worry about the ownership of an image. I am transforming, and changing the view of everything I see in my work. I found the image intriguing. I output it. I used it. No one "owns" a view, regardless of what they may think.
I didn't have to announce to the world that it came from you. I certainly don't do that for the other thousands of images I use!!! That would be insane and quite frankly unproductive for a collage artist. I was trying to show how the creation process grows, from one "visual image" to another....
I am hereby trashing the art. Throwing out the page. Removing it from my flickr. I will now find something else that intrigues me, this time from my own repertoire, which by the way I used for the other 150 pages in this book. You, are gone.Your image, keep it.
As for rights? I don't look at the rights when I post my images. It goes up on default.
Sorry. this was a bummer."
Now I am posting this here, so I can elaborate, explore and figure out my dilemma!
I did delete the image and I won't use it in the book, I mean it is tainted for me at this point, certainly not a pleasurable ending to a book I have spent 4 years on. I don't want to open my book every single time and get annoyed at the last page.
I admit I have a problem with copyright. I don't think like everyone else. I am not into "possessions." I would never blatantly verbatim copy anything from anyone and claim it as mine. We ALL know that is wrong. But I DO blatantly observe, gather, and cull images from everywhere and anywhere in order to create my own artwork. If I couldn't, how could I collage? I would be forced to use plain papers with no image, and doesn't this limit creativity just a tad???? I paint with papers. Period.
I don't know really how to cope this this issue. I am hoping for insight, feedback...something to help me with this concept of ownership, cuz i just got slapped!!
As for the last page of the book, well now..there isn't one. I have to go back to the drawing board, and re-create. My work is so DADA, I know I can't make another page just like that one, but I will create one similar...with another image of unknown origin, and I will find it just as satisfactory as the last one. No harm done.
Or is there?
Do I have to worry about every single snippet I use, for fear someone may be greedy and decide they "own" it? There are literally hundreds of thousands of snips in this book, certainly that would be impossible!!! What about things like vintage wallpaper..? Do I have to go research and find the manufacturer...ask permission to use it?? What about my precious book?? Will a publisher turn me down immediately on the grounds that it will be a shaky project with ownership issues?
Why can't I just be a painter!!!??? They have it easy!!