What if you took a set of images that became so popular that it was used hundreds of times all around the world by hundreds of artists, businesses, websites, and publications? As photographers, it’s what we all dream about but what if you were never paid for your work? What if you weren’t even given credit? What if your images were stolen for years and you never had any idea? If there was ever a video to share, this is it. This is Noam Galai’s story.
This is what Galai’s wrote on his homepage:
About two years after publishing photos of myself screaming on the Flickr, I discovered that my face was ‘for sale’ in several stores around the world, as well as on the Web and spotted it in places like Spain, Iran, Mexico, England and many other places. When I realized that its not a one-time-thing and my face is being used in so many places i decided to start collecting images/videos of all my ‘appearances’. Check out my Scream Blog where i post all the different photos i find with my face.
Here’s what FStoppers had to say:
I’m not going to write out his whole story here because it would be impossible for me to write all of the details. Instead, I want to write about my personal experience and take on Noam’s incredible story.
When Noam first told me about this I asked many of the same questions that people do when they first hear the story; “how much money did you make?” Have you sued any of these companies?” Do you watermark your images now?” I couldn’t understand why Noam was so cool with people stealing his work. It wasn’t until I got to interview him that I understood his point of view and how hypocritical my views were.
There is no way to know for sure but I bet if Noam had watermarked his images from the start, none of this would have happened including the Glimpse Magazine cover. The people that were looking for “free” images online would not have contacted him if his images were watermarked, they would have simply found another image to use. By allowing his images to be public, Noam has gotten to experience something that many artists would give anything for. In my opinion, this experience is worth more than any advertising agency could pay for the image. Noam has made almost no money on these images so far, but I believe the money will come. I know many, if not most of you, will disagree with me but I see Noam’s Stolen Scream as an amazing example of art and the power of technology. I believe everything worked out for the best.
Who among us hasn’t watched a copyrighted video online? Haven’t we all illegally downloaded music or at the very least accepted a burned CD from a friend? How many of us currently have copied software on the very computers that we are reading this on? I’m not saying any of it is right but I think we have little room to point fingers.
This kind of stuff always gets on my nerves. I watermark ALL of my pictures that I post online, and I know there are people out there who keep on using and modifying my images without my permission. I’m not saying my work is widely used and on the international level like that of Galai, but I know it’s on someone’s album, or profile pictures, with my watermark cropped out, without even letting me know. Seriously, all the pictures I posted are already cropped at the best angles and views; by modifying it, you’re making me look bad. And it’s not like my watermark is annoying; it’s literally a tiny line of text on the bottom right. Maybe it’s time for me to apply a giant obnoxious watermark right in the middle of the images, that way there’s no way in hell they can crop it out. At the same time, I like my photos, I don’t want to ruin people’s experience when viewing my pictures. Gah, such a dilemma. What should I do?