Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's easy to lose control of your creation online

Originally published 3/10/11 on

Noam Galai is a photographer who took some pictures of himself back in 2006 and posted them on Flickr. A few months later a friend mentions seeing his face on a t-shirt. He doesn't really believe her, but a couple of months later he's in a store and sees the shirt. The whole story is chronicled in blog post and 10 minute video interview by fstoppers titled "The Stolen Scream." It's a fascinating story, and seeing how far his image has travelled is amazing - and only one user payed him for it.

There are a lot of lessons here. The best may be Noam's reaction to this theft of his IP. He could have watermarked his images (he still doesn't). He could be sending lawyers after all of the companies using his image without permission. He's not - although he does admit that companies using his work without asking does bother him. But he's not bitter. He seems more amused than anything.

Another lesson, one pointed out by Lee, the fstoppers blogger, is that if we're honest, most of us have no right to point fingers at the people using Noams image without even acknowledging it's his. Most of us have downloaded music, or accepted a burned CD from a friend.

The last lesson, the title of this post, is that once you put something online you surrender control of that information to the world at large. So if you don't want the world to see something, don't post it online.