Yes, you've seen this picture before. I first blogged it in January 2014, soon after I took it at Hackney Wick. I posted it here and on Flickr, where it attracted a modest amount of attention.
But on my Tumblr blog, where I usually repost some of the pictures I post here, it took on a life of its own. It exploded and went viral, gathering more than 24,450 likes and reblogs so far. It's by far my most popular Tumblr post. (I realize that's nothing compared to the millions of views some YouTube videos get, but for me it's a big deal!)
The other day, I was talking to a fellow photographer at school. He complained that he'd been finding his images re-used without his permission across the Internet. He apparently found this out via Google Image Search, and he explained to me that Google allows users to upload a picture and search online for identical photos.
I had no idea!
So, knowing how popular my couch picture is with the disaffected kids on Tumblr, and despite the fact that ignorance is bliss, I decided to search for it.
Now, any photographer who posts pictures online has to expect that they'll be pirated and re-used to some degree. That doesn't mean we should allow it without complaint, but in my view, it's sort of the nature of the Internet.
I especially don't mind if the user adapts my picture in some way. I found this guy on Twitter, using my photo as a component of his Twitter profile shot. I think it's kind of funny. It doesn't bother me at all. (Maybe he likes parrots?)
This concerns me a little more! It's an Italian photographer using my shot in an online flier for an event publicizing her "photographic project" called "lost & found." There's no credit on the photo, at least not on Facebook. So I'm wondering about this exhibit. Was she exhibiting my picture? Or was she just using it in her publicity materials (also not kosher, but perhaps not as outrageous). Was it an exhibit of photos she found online, in which case, one wonders, did she credit the photographers?
So many questions, and I'm going to ask them. Stay tuned.
By the way, one entertaining aspect of the Google Image Search function is that it shows users other pictures that are "similar" to the one they searched. In my case, Google thinks my couch looks like a tank.