Opinions and Rants #22: A Rant About Image Hijacking

I don't mind at all when images from Retrospace are used elsewhere. In fact, it brings me a sense of satisfaction seeing a Retrospace pic on another blog - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Plus, these images aren't really my property - as I've elaborated in another post, they are scanned from magazines, comics, etc. and are really the property of the creator of the material.  A 7-Up advertisement from 1972 is the property of 7-Up, so I have no right to be outraged when my scan of the advertisement turns up on someone else's blog - it wasn't really mine to begin with!

That being said, it is infuriating to see a picture from Retrospace slapped on someone else's blog with no credit given.  Sure, I didn't create the ad, but I did go through the effort of buying the old magazine, scanning it in, and uploading it for public viewing. It's common courtesy to at least reference the source of the image.

How do I even know these images are mine? Maybe the blogger owned the same magazine or comic as me, scanned it and coincidentally posted it shortly after me..... not a chance.  When you scan something, the way the image is cropped, the exposure, and details such as fading and rips can identify an image as yours, and not someone else's independent creation.

I think that some folks can be forgiven for being noobs.  I did the same thing myself many times before - clueless to the fact that I was screwing somebody else who spent a good deal of time and effort to provide the image.  However, most of the time, it's from bloggers who just don't give a shit, and everything's fair game for them.

The solution to this is to watermark the photo with a Retrospace logo; however, I will never do that because I feel like it takes away from the eye candy.  There's also a way to make the picture look different if it's embedded on another site - but this doesn't prevent someone from just saving the picture themselves and posting it without giving credit. After all, I WANT MY IMAGES SHARED - I just want credit where credit is due.

In the end, the Internet is like the wild, wild west, and there's really nothing we can do about it..... that is, except bitch and moan in posts like this. What's your opinion on the matter?


  1. I agree with you, and I commend you for being so fair with the pics you do scan. Not everyone is as open as you are.

    If I do ever reuse something here, or from anywhere, I do try and always give credit. Sometimes I will refrain from posting something if I have forgotten where I found it.

  2. I have tumbled a few pics from here but always added a link back, so people can see where it came from.
    I've seen a few screen caps i've made get reblogged on Tumblr with my credit removed and the credits of where i got the pic from.
    I don't mind so much if my caps get re-blogged (maybe the person had the same DVD and capped the exact same scene, who knows).
    I've been accused once of stealing a pic from another tumblr that i had found in a google search.
    Probably not much we can do about the whole thing.

  3. my opinion is- i agree with you. what i think is funny is when a blog i have in my blog list puts up an image of mine and a tab of it shows up there while the original post of mine is still on the main page- that always gets a double-take!(literally!)

  4. I'm guilty. I took 2 of your pics and put them on my footer. I'll link them to your site.

  5. I'm guilty too, Joe. If you've blogged long enough, it's gonna happen from time to time. It's just been getting incessant lately.

    For instance, a "Wate-On" ad that I scanned is on PCL Linkdump today, and they source Martin Klatch.... did he get it from me or someone else who got it from me? Who knows? Like I said, it's the wild, wild west, and there's no stopping it.

  6. Correction - Martin Klatch references "Vintage Ads" blog, which does not reference

  7. To the Editor:

    I took one of your scans (Batman slapping Robin for Christmas). I did give you credit--And asked people to visit your site (but not tell you I was stealing your stuff).

    No doubt the 750 people who have visited my site over the last two years have exploded the numbers at your site.

    You're welcome.

    Bill Abendroth
    Samsara Samizdat

  8. hi, I agree with you, I have used your images in the past as they are fab but I've always tried to credit who I get them from or where I find them, hope that's ok :-)

  9. As I said, I LOVE IT when my images are posted elsewhere - that tells me I must be doing something right.

    It's only when there's no credit given, time after time, that I grow frustrated.

  10. I was naive in the beginning when I started my blog and I just took without crediting. It took someone to tell me before I even realized. But ONCE you know there is no excuse. Takes a second to do and is the right thing to do. We are living in a CIVILIZATION here people. If they only realized how great it felt to get credit for finding a cool image in the first place by posting it they would credit always. You gave a good lesson that can't be given often enough.

  11. It has never happened to me with images I have scanned in but it has happened with my paintings and that is really frustrating - especially when they were taken from Flickr the people didn't even link back to them.

  12. *sheepishly raises hand* guilty as hell!

    but i do include the caveat on my blog "if i have stolen something that you feel rightfully belongs to you, let me know. i will either give you credit for creating it, or remove it. but seriously... if you are the originator of something be thankful. you are one of those rare beings that actually creates and not solely consumes or regurgitates the products of others. imagination is the coin of this new realm, revel in your power. the rest of us just swim in other fishes piss..."

    but truthfully, most of the time i cannot tell what is original, personally hand scanned or stolen. muchless remember where i stole/borrowed it from... so unless it has a little "www.thisismycrap.com" watermark i do not pay much attention. i usually never uses those images, though...

    so if i were you i would post pictures online that you have scanned, etc, with a watermark. if someone requests a unaltered copy, give it to them with the understanding that they will credit you for the work you have done. that way you have greater control over your own creation.

    it may be the wild west, but that does not mean you have no power...

  13. Gilligan, I feel your pain... I welcome the use of the photos on Random Acts of Geekery and my Flickr account, so long as I get some kind of credit.

    Like you, I don't want to have to put any kind of logo or watermark on the pictures I collect -- the only watermarks are those that were on the original eBay auctions that I saved the photos from. It would be impossible for me to credit each original auction, for that matter, since I've got a backlog of photos, some of which won't appear in a blog of mine for well over a year!

  14. Well this is gonna make me damn unpopular....but I disagree.

    Yup I post vintage ads. Most found on Flickr with free use on them. Can't remember if I took any from here. Most of the time I credit but only if I can not find the same image elsewhere on the net. Lots of time I don't credit if I google the image and see that there are tons more sites with the exact same image. So it become 'chicken and eggy'...hard to tell who 'gave birth' to the photo or scan...so I opt to leave no credit.

    On the other side...I am a photographer myself AND I scan hundreds of vintage ads for my ADTalk humor series site and I KNOW that if I do not add an OBVIOUS watermark it will WITHOUT a DOUBT be picked up and used elsewhere. Guess what? I am cool with it. Even my original photography. Totally OKAY.

    I think we all need to just calm down about getting 'credit' for stuff we do on the blogosphere. You put it out there for free...and people like to take what is free.

    um, sidenote: love your site. Don't hate me.

  15. Just put some text in the EXIF space. Not many people are going to think to strip it out. The ones that really care about the image and want to research it to death finding the original source will have a higher chance of finding it.

  16. Hi: I dont know if I've ever used anything you scanned because I don't ever go to one site and take stuff; I'm more like to Google-image items and not pay much attention to where they came from. I think a lot of bloggers do this with a lot of images. In some cases, this opens a blogger up to a copyright complaint. But in the case of a scan, I think it's a very minor infraction.

    I buy and scan from current mags all the time and do feel like "hey, that was MINE" when I see them on Perez and elsewhere. But I don't think people deliberately don't credit scanners, it's just very weird to think of every image on the 'Net having a "scanned by" credit.

    I agree with the post-er who says you're out of luck because ultimately, we all have to realize that if something is free on the 'Net, people will use it. Period.

    But as I said, I've had those pangs of "ownership" with my own scans, and my solution has been to simply contact the blogger very politely and point out that I'd appreciate a link to the post from which the scan came. No one ever says no, and it's easier to do this than to get enraged.

  17. Scanning something, especially something that is still in copyright, does not confer any rights in the image. Period. That's law.

    Scanning something that is out-of-copyright does confer some kind of rights to the scan. Not sure what, since if the intent of the work is to replicate the original, then the image remains public domain.

    When I create works using public domain images, I copyright my original work with a Creative Commons Attribution license and ask that people share it freely as long as they don't change it or claim authorship. But that's public domain re-assembly.

    I understand your frustration, but putting a trademark on a scan and claiming rights to someone else's copyrighted work, as is done so much on Flickr, is very wrong. The only reason no one is prosecuted is because no one cares about the ephemeral nature of the material, or the perpetrator can't be found. I have stopped working with Flickr because it irks me so.

    I think you are taking the right approach, and I thank you for your work on the blog, I enjoy the images, but I don't take them since the originals are still in copyright, so I can't use them in my work.

    You are doing a public service however, by posting this ephemera for posterity.

    I often refer youngsters to this site so they can experience how sick and ugly the '70's really were. You perform a useful service just doing that, and for me, that outweighs the copyright concern. Much of this tripe will be lost forever otherwise since it doesn't fit in with what librarians and archivists care about.

    Best Regards.


  18. Well, Im resposible for posting it on PCL. I found it at Martin Klasch. And that is the site I am crediting. That is the way I work. I only credit one step back. It would at times take too much time and hassle cruising back to the source. And at times you are not able to know for certain which was the source. So that will not change. Not over at PCL.
    But I will update my post. I always do when I happen to find the source ... like now!

  19. As a young Blogger (only 91 posts) I have found that looking for images on other blogs is a great way to build the network and potential viewership for your own blog. I ask if I can link, hope they will link back, but don't demand it. Anyone who swipes without crediting is missing an opportunity to build their own webinality.

    Blog on! Gilligan

  20. I agree with you, I am a landscape photographer in my spare time and thankfully I haven't had to deal with people who rip my images without asking but yeah I tend to copyright all my pics just in case that way peeps don't bother.

  21. I decided to watermark mine knowing that some would be swiped and that way a person could find their way back to my blog. Although, as someone mentioned here, they are much less likely to be used if they are watermarked. Though I don't watermark my screencaps, sometimes I wish I had.

    I thought about it for quite a while before deciding to go that route.

    I have another site with hundreds of photos I've grabbed from all over the net, and I've given credit when I know it, and have had a few people ask for credit and a few ask to have the images removed (sometimes by the original photographer). I always comply.

  22. I agree, I really try to put a link in if it is a new image that I haven't seen at least a couple times before...
    I just started scanning & adding to the madness and will post them as the mood strikes me...
    thanks for your good work!

  23. I totally agree. Reminds me of all the people putting watermarks, logos, usernames, etc... on YouTube videos that they don't own. Same thing with all the lazy people at deviantART that post a screencap of something, add some filter to it, then call it their own and give no credit. It's not fair, I tells ya! :p