Sonora, CA Photographer | Stealing Photos | Christine Dibble Photography
I have been wanting to write a blog post about image theft for a long time. After reading a post that a forum friend of mine received the other day, I decided now is the time. She had a potential client contact her, asking about session prices, and saying that she only needed a few 8x10s because she planned “to scan them and make copies to give to relatives.” Apparently, she has no idea that what she plans to do is illegal. It is stealing, plain and simple.
If I walked into a store, and pocketed a shirt and walked out without paying for it, everyone would agree that I was stealing. It doesn’t matter if the store has hundreds of shirts to sell…taking it without paying is wrong. The store owners are selling shirts to make money so they can feed their families and pay for the necessities of life.
If an artist records a song, and I download it from a website without paying for it, I am stealing. Just because that artist has a lot of money already doesn’t make it right. That singer is working very hard to make sure that song is a quality product. I have heard somewhere that making a CD full of music to sell costs about fifty cents, and I used to complain about the $15 cost. But now that I own my own business, I understand it. That $15 is going to pay the artist for the countless hours he or she has put into honing his or her skills. It is paying the songwriter, the band, the producer, the studio manager, the album photographer, and the custodians who clean the studios. It pays for the instruments, recording and sound equipment, the electricity that powers said equipment, and of course, the CD and case itself. When you take into account everyone who needs a cut of that $15 to feed their families, that $15 seems like a bargain.
My job as a photographer with a legitimate business is no different. I do it to help feed my family. I have thousands of dollars worth of equipment, a lot of which needs a yearly upgrade to keep up with the demands of professional shooting. I have countless hours into education and experience. I have thousands invested in workshops and props. I pay for websites, insurance, business licensing, supplies, computers, software…the list goes on. I put in hours away from my family to plan the shoot, do the shoot, load images, edit images and order and deliver prints. My product is very much a product, just like a shirt in a store or a song on iTunes. Just because my product is displayed on the web does not mean it is moral or legal for people to take it and print it for their own personal use. The same goes for prints…scanning them and using copies without permission is equivalent to stealing.
I understand the desire and the need to save money. But owning my own business has also taught me a lot about why things cost what they do. I had to pay $139 to have my refrigerator fixed the other day. Is that a lot of money for me? Yes, it is. But I also know that the company that came out has to pay for the repair truck, the technician’s time and expertise, the part that was replaced, insurance, building rental, phone and other utility bills, and make enough profit to live off of. So please, respect my product and the products that other businesses provide.