Sunday 31 July 2016

click! click! click!

Now that it costs 'nothing' to take and print a photograph, the servers of the world are groaning under the electronic load of storing all these pixellated images. 10% of the world's electricity consumption is needed to support this cultural trend. If you upload one of your snaps direct from the camera [4MB average] this single image is taking up the equivalent of 300 Blobs stored as Word files. This in itself is a shockin' bit of bloatware because those 300 are only 1,000,000 bytes [1MB] of text, the rest being overhead about format, font and grammar-checking. Clearly some pictures are better than others. I do my best to crank down Blob-illustrations to less than 4kb: enough to give the gist without being super quality: I don't want my readers in Andaman to be frustrated in download time. Here [R] is one by Andrew Caldwell "Royal Spoonbill sits atop of a branch basking in the glow of the nearly full moon in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand." which is shortlisted  for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year award, all of which are on display at Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Centre. And on the Grauniad.  Chekkitout - gorgeous. Mr Caldwell or Insight or The Guardian or Greenwich may take it into their heads to sue me for breach of copyright even though my only purpose here is to give them all a bit of free publicity.

When I go off to Google Images to look for a suitable image to leaven the dull dull dull verbiage of my Blobs, a very high proportion have a ghostly watermark to indicate that the image is owned by Getty or Alamy or Shutterstock which are intermediaries and repositories who act as brokers between the photographer and those desiring to use their image. The agencies have a business model that is supporting hundreds of people of who not taking any photographs. Some of these stock-photo agencies are more rapacious than others.

Carol M Highsmith [L as a Getty image] has been taking thousands of photographs [sample at Daily Mail] to document the American landscape and way of life. For the last 30 years, she has been donating these images to the US Library of Congress, so that they are freely available to historians, geographers, sociologists and bloggers. She was a little pissed off recently when she received an invoice for $120 from Getty to host one of her own photographs on her own website.  You may be sure that little or nothing of that $120 would filter back to her as the original creator. And, as I blobbed last year in Marriage Referendum context, the people portrayed in stock photos have no control at all at all in how their images get used. Highsmith has instructed her lawyers to sue the ass off Getty and Alamy : "The Defendants are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees to people and organizations who were already authorized to reproduce and display the donated photographs for free, but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner . . .".  All good fun and of course the lawyers will be eating deeply of the cake. via Metafilter where you can get some interesting lawyerly input in the comments . . . as well as a lot of predictable fuck-you-all Getty I hope you crash and burn invective. The Getty page - ironically of Carol Highsmith herself - shown above L has been "Oops! We can't find the page you're looking for."ed

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