On Photo Crediting: Let’s get the platforms involved

Believe it or not, Art Sponge has been around since 2009. That year coincides closely with when I started spending a significant amount of time everyday browsing through Flickr photostreams, blogs much like this one, and image bookmarking sites such as yayeveryday! (in its previous form that is) or . Later on I set my Tumblr dashboard to endless scrolling and that’s where I’ve lost a large part of my days since.

Along with this habit came the awareness of how much stuff gets lost in this vast web of ours. Yet with time I started also realizing there is a discrepancy between images that aren’t credited back to their author simply because of they’re floating on a sharing platform such as Tumblr (that’s no excuse– but there is a difference between clicking ‘reblog’ and actually creating a whole new post), or pictures that are sitting on a website’s front page or a fully formatted blog post.

I recently came across a great write up by photographer Amy Stein (note to self: feature Amy Stein’s photography here asap) who took a great approach to the problem. Her view is that artists cannot avoid having their photos or artworks being shared all over the net, given how the web has become based on social sharing now. Therefore they’ve got to let it happen, and with the help of others in the artist community those who ‘forget’ to link back should be reached out to and asked to attribute the work.

“Let’s create a kind of attribution Neighborhood Watch where we confront site owners, editors and publishers that post images without crediting the artist and kindly ask them to get with the program.” Amy Stein

Personally, I think is a delightful idea– and although it’s never been given such a charismatic label, this kind of movement happens all the time in sporadic outbursts around the web. Most recently I came across a post from personal blogger Yoojin Chung who was having exactly this problem, with the help of her followers who sent emails to the offender she got the website owner to attribute her photograph. There are loads of other example of this sort.

So, what’s my point? Obviously Amy has done a pretty great job at explaining the problem before me. Well my point returns to this idea of there being two kinds of uncredited images: the ones floating around the platforms, and the ones posted on websites. Most often, the former is a result of the latter. For example, a tumblr-user reposts an uncredited image found on a blog and it just keeps being reposted until nobody has any idea where it originated from.

Resolving this might need more than a Neighborhood Watch which can only be effective if the movement is carried out by significant numbers– reaching out to the platforms themselves seems also very important to me.

From my knowledge, I’ve rarely seen much of an emphasis put on crediting the origin of images on the formatting back-end of platforms such as Tumblr, Blogger or even WordPress.

What I mean by emphasis is there should be something that intervenes in the writer’s process of inserting an image that triggers a search for a link to the image author.

Or at least a caption raising awareness around this issue. Or something. Honestly I’m just throwing a suggestion, but I’m sure many people out there have better ideas on how the great people behind blogging platforms could implement a solution to the problem of unattributed images.

What is your take on this issue? Got any suggestions? Fire away!

in the mean time, spreading the word on such websites as LINKwithlove is also great. And if you’re having trouble figuring out what to do with an image you’re about to post, Erin Loechner from Design For Mankind has pia bijkerk created an amazing poster to help out:

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