Spring Fling, Instagram Style?

As many local instagram feeds are now showing, it was a long winter with random days of heat, but we’re finally through it. Signs of spring are showing up in the DC area, and we’re now on the lookout for the cherry blossoms to burst forth along the Tidal Basin!

Even though the allergies make my face feel like it’s either melting or on fire, I love the arrival of Spring, as my instagram account shows…

A photo posted by Brian Gray (@urbanbohemian) on

Nice, right? Just a quick snap while walking around Cleveland Park one day when I was a bit early for brunch. Even though their pollen is one of the types that gives me grief, I can’t resist how photogenic cherry blossom trees are.

…and apparently neither can other people.

My photo on instagram, used without permission by Park Van Ness apartments

A day or so later, I saw I’d been mentioned in a comment on instagram and it led to the above photo, taken without permission and cropped down.

Blooms spotted in #rockcreekpark! We’re so happy spring is finally here! [camera emoji]: @urbanbohemian #spring #springtime #vannessdc

I don’t know about you, but I’d think a new apartment building with units going from $1000-7000 could maybe afford to pay someone to take professional instagram photos for them instead of just saving and cropping photos from other people. I see this and have had this happen to me by hashtag campers, realtors, hotels, and restaurants–especially restaurants and I’m sick of it.

And yet, I still don’t know what I want my reaction to be… this time. Politely asking them to remove it or give appropriate credit? (Yes, I have a preferred credit line, it’s very simple.)1 Reporting it to instagram as copyright infringement? Putting them on blast on their social media accounts?

I’ll likely just report it because I’m also tired of the reactions any of the other methods brings. Shock, anger, outrage, “everyone does it!”, “what’s the big deal?” and my favorite, “you should be glad for the exposure.” And that’s way more energy than I feel like devoting to it. Especially considering this isn’t a place I plan on doing business with in future.

And I’m glad we’re past the idea that everything on the internet is free, but this new method of “credit” that’s akin to taking someone’s art and hanging it under your name, but placing a small Post-it® Note under the frame with the original artist’s name on it is just as frustrating. It doesn’t send them traffic, doesn’t garner them work and it gives the impression that they gave you permission to do it!

But since none of the social networks are actually invested in protecting either their users or their users’ content, I’ll just keep on taking pics and reporting the copies. What else can ya do? :mrgreen:

1 brian alexander gray, urbanbohemian.com (or my username @urbanbohemian, depending on where it’s going)

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4 Responses

  1. dakrólak says:

    I’m of the decidedly burn their reputation to the ground put them on blast & make sure this is seen by as many people as possible. You know I’ve always been #TeamPetty that way. That once having done that doesn’t necessarily make for amends or any form of reparation, either to your social media standing or in people who follow you.

    However, and in this case it is a commercial entity, using without prior permission a photograph, a work of art, your intellectual property as if they had obtained it consenually. To what purpose, they aren’t typically using it in a way that results in a financial transaction (as a logo, or other business identifying entity) but given their follower count, it isn’t hard for me to imagine them displaying it in their establishment without notice or by mailing you one after it was hung.

    So yes let’s talk about ways to pushback against this, which is basically because there is no accepted standard, in an unregulated, but long overdue matruation of the social media & the rights of the artist. You can help me draft a manifesto & collect signatures. Do you have a cc tag anywhere? Guidelines in your bio? (not victim-blaming merely asking) Again I’m all for watermarking, but realize how unbelieveably difficult that is & why I don’t use IG

    • urb says:

      I reported it and IG removed the entry. Have heard nothing from the offending party and no more from IG. It was the simplest way–and by simplest, I mean I had to fill out a form, give IG identifying details and URLs proving I posted it first. So, still annoying.

      I’ve been looking for ways to automatically watermark IG images, and there really isn’t any way to do so outside of using a third party which defeats *my* purpose. I know a lot of people are “professional IG’ers” but I’m not. Still, after being paid for my work, I’m not OK with someone just taking it without permission.

      In the larger issue of theft on the internet, is there any more of a solution than to call people out when they do it? Not really. But the social media sites really don’t have your back.

  1. August 25, 2016

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