What do all these pictures mean, anyway? And whose are they?

1.3 billion images a day. Rosette Nebula [PUBLIC DOMAIN] 15 APR 2015 DYLAN O'DONNELL  CATEGORY : ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY
1.3 billion images a day.
Rosette Nebula

In a world where we now upload 1.8 Billion photos a day, maybe it’s time to take stock of all things ”photographic” and what those little image suckers – both professional, amateur and press – might actually mean in the scheme of things; as our high art, media and pop culture changes; both aesthetically and also within what early twentieth century politicians and creatives called – almost quaintly now – “the means of production.”

One thing is for sure, amidst all the sides being taken: the issue of authorship, and control, may be different in 2015, from 1915, but it remains as vital and contentious as ever. Let’s look at a few current examples:


The Washington City Post has decided that it will not photograph “Foo Fighters” because of what it sees as (and make your own mind up on this) injurious and unreasonable conditions demanded by the band. They indicate that if they signed the contract to have a staff photographer shoot Dave Grohl and his cohorts on their latest gig, that:

“…the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band. Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.”

This seems a little weird, given the band’s stance on protecting its own intellectual property, to say the least…



Other artists seem to have a different approach to IP issues. Something a little more mellow (or is it provocative? Nobody seems to know the difference, any more…), a little less hysterical… Photographer Dylan O’Donnell proclaims a clear stance on how he perceives how certain elements of his portfolio are intended to exist within the public domain, by way of the following statement:

“I can’t think of anything more anally retentive than amateur photographers uploading mobile photos of their morning coffee and then claiming copyright – just in case some evil corporation uses their award winning image to (heaven forbid) sell something. Instead, the photo will sit unused forever, tainted with the smell of legal copyright. “

Basically, Dylan shoots the moon… and gives it away:



Meanwhile, artist Maya Hayuk has her own IP beef with Starbucks. Her series of colorful, geometric designs – The Universe, The Universe II, and Hands Across the Universe – evoke splintered prisms of neon light forms. Starbucks approached Hayuk to use her designs as ‘backdrops’ on its new Mini Frappuccino campaign; but the artist demurred.

Starbucks seemingly used a variation therein, and Hayuk feels like they co-opted her work. However, once one gets into the IP of geometric forms, what does actually constitute an original work? This blog seems to come down pretty firmly on the side of the artist; but looks forward to a vibrant comments section…


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