The Ethics (or lack thereof) of Website Plagiarism

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Francesco, May 27, 2004.

  1. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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  2. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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  3. Deniz

    Deniz Member

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    Thats sad.. It even sucks more that Bulent Ozgoren is my fellow Country man.

    He recently posted messages on 2 major forums about his website update.
     
  4. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    L Gebhardt - nice catch! I did think that his last paragraph was too seamless to be original.
     
  5. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Now, I am not defending plagiarism, but it is possible that English is not his first language, and he wanted to make a good impression. However he obviously failed, given what you have found. I do know I would not want to buy his prints (they might not really be his), or take his workshops now.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Good catch indeed. If he was one of my students, he would fail.
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

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    Wow! That was out and out copying. I thought that sounded a bit familiar but could not place it. People are praising his website on the LF forum. hmmmm.
     
  8. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    Wow is right! And they both have a "copyright" at the bottom. What recourse does the original author (I assume the guy who has been up since 2001) have to assert his rights? How would you even start that process I wonder?
     
  9. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I wonder if their photographic efforts are as original and creative as their websites.
     
  10. david b

    david b Member

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    BIG FAT "F"
     
  11. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Remember the slideshow on my website with captions that talked about the best time to photograph kids? Lots of work and creativity put into that one, and it's become a great marketing hook for me.

    Of course, the inevitable -- I caught a photographer I know who had taken the show, verbatim, in its entirety, with the exception of two slides with slight wording changes, removed my images and placed hers in it, and used it on her website for marketing purposes.

    How sad is that?

    - CJ
     
  12. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    This is taught in HTML classses. Go up to the top of your screen and click on view. Scroll down to source. You can pull up most peoples source code. you make the little changes you want, and wonder of wonders you have a website. Doesn't make it any better for those who do the work. In todays world of the internet and everything should be free mentality, it is totally acceptable. I wish it wasn't.
     
  13. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    It seems there are a few problems... In the US, we have copyright laws (as I am sure other countries do as well), but there are really no *laws* to govern what you may or may not do on the internet.

    Plagiarism is Plagiarism is stealing, but at some point, the international community must determine some way of dealing with it!

    IMHO
    Jeanette
     
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  15. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Yes, there are. The same laws of copyright apply, and it is perfect possible to enforce them. In the situation I mentioned, a simple "cease and desist" letter was motivation enough to remedy the problem within two hours of my finding it.

    Plagiarism is plagiarism, and copyright infringement is copyright infringement, even on the 'net.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    it never ceases to amaze me how people just grab what they want and run with it. i found one of my website images on a howard stern fan-site. they didn't even bother to grab the jpg, they just coded their page to use my website for their image source. this sort of stuff goes on - on fEEbay all the time too, people are to pathetic to write their own selling page, or use images of their own, so they link their page to the source of someone else and *hope* that no one notices.

    web-anarchy has its privileges
     
  17. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This never happens to me. A few years ago. a website had pulled down photo.net's photo of week photo/images and created a photo award website. They took just about every photo of the week but mine.

    I was so put out!
     
  18. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    I think a lot of this plagiarism is due to "the new morality" wherein the issue of importance is whether you are caught and/or punished, not what you did. How many times have you heard someone claim, in complete seriousness, "it's only illegal if you get caught".

    During one of my NPR-listening sessions in the print room, I heard either Sec. Rumsfield or a joint chiefs staffer saying how much worse the Abu Ghraib issue would be if additional pictures and videos were released. Only one or two lawmakers took them to task for the fact the issue was the abuse itself, not the pictures of the abuse. I suppose this is what comes of being more concerned with being politically correct rather than just plain correct.

    In an atmosphere where the test of morality is whether or not you get caught, it's easy to see how someone could sincerely think it was acceptable to grab someone's website content, manufacture news photos, etc.

    There are, IMHO, acceptable forms of copying. Websites full of intentionally open source web scripts are there for the plucking. I'm sure many, if not most of us have taken pictures along themes we've seen used by other photographers, such as the old delapitated barn, a long line of street lamps/utility poles/fence posts either compressed by a long lens or expanded by a short one. The encyclopedia of successful portrait poses is a well-traveled volume as well. To varying degrees, I'd venture a guess that most of us find those forms of copying acceptable.

    Conversely, I doubt that anyone on APUG would claim someone else's image as their own, copy the source to someone's website and use it as their own, etc.

    In discussions like this, I keep coming back to the thought that behavior like this stems from the family dinner table, or the lack thereof. I'd be willing to bet people who grew up discussing right and wrong and why around the dinner table are less likely to gravitate to the plagiaristic pole of the copying continuum.
     
  19. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    LOL..good catch Francesco. How embarrasing can it be to get caught like this. OTOH I understand his motive, he does lack a command of the english language and I am sure he felt "pressured" to have an "artist" statement. I have never understood this obsesion with an artist statement, IMO a photograph should stand on it's own, if you have to explain it, you have failed.

    Anyhow, I bet this will do more harm than good now that he has been caught.
     
  20. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Actually the only source code you can see is the code downloaded by your browser. APUG is a good example of this. On the server there is a lot of code that is run (in the PHP package) that we can't see, and therefore can't steal. In the case of the stolen artist's statement this does not help, but if Cheryl did most of her processing on the server instead of the client it would be very difficult to just "lift" her site. The look and feel of it however could still easily be stolen.
     
  21. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    But is that really *copying*??? There is a difference between emulating the style of someone (ZS...Ansel Adams) and copying them... copying them implies taking their image verbatim, not taking your own shot of the same thing, or posing a model in the same way. Think about art classes where the entire class draws the same thing. This is not copying, since each persons result will be different. Same goes with photography.

    I have often written things that reflect the same sentiments; I think anyone who photographs nature feels that *connection*. But because we feel the same does not make that copying. In the examples posted, however, that WAS blatant copying! Shame on them!! The non-english speaking person should have expressed their own feelings. I think most of the world can handle understanding those feelings at the core rather than at the surface of the words.

    Jeanette
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Bulent Ozgoren published an apology on the LF forum at lfphoto.info.
     
  23. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I believe the saying is "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"..

    Whether it's sincere or not is debatable but in this hobby or profession of photography, we are the definitely the largest group of imitators around. Copying, in my opinion is what 99% of what photographers do until they develop their own style. Some never do develop their own style and just move from one copy job to another. Very occasionally someone is an original. Not often. There are hundreds of thousands of photographers and millions of photographs taken and the similarities are present in most.

    As for copying, what we spend a lot of time and effort to create, it's obviously annoying, but it is also a form of flattery. Lazy as it may be. Cheryl's case is a case in point. However if the person changes a few lines, you would have a hard time suing for copyright infringement and also you have to prove loss of income to get any money back.

    In the wider scheme of things, I would guess that since we copy from someone previously, there is a pretty good chance that someone will copy from us as well. There are just so many ways to see, say, and present something and that's why when we see something original we are blown away and usually say, "why didn't I think of that."

    As for the original case presented, you are right, I would stay away from this person as a teacher or instructor. They are obviously offering nothing new.

    In our everyday lives, we spend most of our time copying. The clothes we wear, the way we wear our hair, the cars we drive, the homes and furniture we have, the way we dress our children. If we were to follow the beat of our own drummer, we would be called strange, or worse, by our peers. We are species of conformers and copiers.

    On the rare occasion that we meet an true original, is a special moment indeed.


    Just an observation.


    Michael McBlane
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2004
  24. mark

    mark Member

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    As a photographer and teacher I encounter the blatant stealing of images all the time. My sixth graders were taught to do it this year. It was aquite the argument between me and the principal and the teacher. They ignored me. They honestly beleive they were doing nothing wrong. I let my dad use one of my images as a screen saver at work when he was a teacher. Next thing I know someone steals the image and passes it around. Totally pissed me off. him too. If they would have asked it would not have been a problem but everyone looked at me strange when I got mad. I really think it is a matter of ignorance. That does not make it right but it does explain a lot.

    In technology professional development classes teachers are taught that it is alright. When I say "No its not!" the instructor argues with me. I have been told "it is a picture not a book, not music there is no problem?" or I get "their just kids" No one seems to understand that it is theft, plain and simple. No different than walking out of the store without paying for a candy bar.

    I have yet to hear anyone but me explain that it is not a problem to write a letter and ask permission to use an image. In fact, when I have students do things that need images they have to write a letter. Not a single request has been turned down, and no one has asked for payment. With E-mail it is almost as easy as a phone call. Teachers ignore this part so they send the wrong message. They say it is alright to copy the image. They fail to mention that it is alright as long as you have permission.

    If the students are being taught this then it is clear that the adults honestly beleive it is not a problem. Ignorance is depressing.
     
  25. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Umm, no, I would not have a hard time suing for copyright infringement. The font, format, wording, order, and everything else about it was the same on 18 slides. Two slides had slight changes. Not difficult to prove in the least, particularly since I know this person and have documentation that she viewed mine and intentionally copied. Quite easy, in fact. As far as proving loss of income, that wasn't the route I took. I gave her until the end of the day to remove it from the site, or I would begin charging her a daily rate for the use of my marketing materials. Additionally, since this person is accredited through a professional organization, she would have been stripped of her certifications and membership, which would be quite a damaging blow.

    There are ways of dealing with it.
     
  26. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Painters "copy" the Masters all the time; this is done to learn technique.
    To take that technique and sign the painting as the "Master" is illegal.

    To learn photo techniques by copying; or tying to copy is very common, and signing a copy as the "master" would not be to cool and perhaps is also illegal (i would think so).

    IMO, it is not the copyig to learn with that is wrong; it is passing that work off as your original process. How many times have we all seen a photo that was set up exactly the same as (fill in the blank) and at no time does anyone even mention the original photographer; i.e. "in the manner of......."

    I would love to take a shot of an eggplant i.e. edward weston; but don't,not only can't I find an eggplant that shape it would be very hard to re-create the lighting, etc.

    Someone else took Cheryl creative ideas and substitute her photos, which is certainly ugly and yet a lot of us would love to take lovely photos of children ala cheryl and most of us or even any of use can't. But does that mean we can't try her technique?

    I don't know the answers. What i do know that taking someone else work and putting your name on it is stealing.

    I also tell my students, there is really nothing new in photography that the best we can do is try to find a new "twist" on the idea. A different approach, etc. and that is our challenge. Some do and some don't.

    Earlier in the year I ran across a photo site and while browsing around,lo and behold i saw a photo so similar to something i shot in the late 50"s i couldn't believe it. Do I think someone "stole" my idea, don't have a clue; perhaps it is the collective unconsious. As Michael indicated of all the millions of photos taken there can be scary similarities

    WIth all that babble; coping word for word someone else's verbiage is not an accident or a lesson in technical learning it is Plagiarism and an ethics violation.