The DRM BOX: Rough Copy of the Promo Video.

This is the same rough copy of the promo video that I put together for the DRM BOX. Since we planned on showing this video during our SoOnCon presentation at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, I had to have this video done and ready to go.

This has been sitting around quietly on YouTube as an ‘unlisted video’, but it’s been two weeks now, why keep it locked up?


Do You Sell Originals, or Reproductions?

In the last entry in the “Photographing Art” series, Don’t Bother With Image Protection, I covered some reasons why I think that allowing images of art work to be freely shared isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some people want to photograph art, or download images of art, and for artists dealing with one-of-a-kind images, like painters, the benefits of this infringement can outweigh the risks.

The last entry was rather one-sided, however. Freely allowing copies isn’t going to be beneficial in all situations. If you are in the selling reproductions business, file sharing has the potential to eat away at sales. I can sympathize with this. I have made money licensing images for prints myself. As a struggling artist, I know that every source of income, no matter how small it might seem, is very significant.

How many image makers are in the business of selling reproductions? Photographers certainly are, but I believe that it is important for artists to decide on the main focus of their practice: are they about selling originals, or selling reproductions.
If you are in the business of selling reproductions, this series is probably not for you. If you are more interested in selling originals, please come with me as I take you through the weird world of infinite goods.
Continue reading Do You Sell Originals, or Reproductions?

Professional Photography: Accident of History?

Lately, I’ve been hearing a growing number of complaints from professional photographers about the introduction of pro-sumer grade digital SLR cameras. Pro-sumer is that fuzzy patch between consumer-grade toy and professional-grade tool. These days, professional level photography tools are accessible to a non-professional audience. I don’t have to take out a loan to purchase professional-level equipment these days. I don’t have to spend years learning all the technical processes involved in making my expensive tools work. It’s all within my reach.

When accessible high-quality tools meet up with the awesome power of online aggregates and search, the micro-stock photo industry almost seems inevitable. This also means that the idea of professional photography as a profitable career is put into jeopardy. There may no longer be a need for as many photographers as there once were.

Here is one idea that although not a pleasant one, is one that I believe must be considered: maybe photography as a profession is just an accident of history. The window between photography being possible and photography being easy allowed the profession to exist, and that window is now coming to a close.
Continue reading Professional Photography: Accident of History?

Good Ideas for Protecting Your Images

After my last entry, Bad Ideas for Protecting Your Images, you might be thinking that I am against the idea of artists protecting their work. Absolutely not. I am only against bad ideas that either won’t work, are likely cost far more than they are worth, or will irritate your audience and potentially drive potential collectors away. Most of the methods I criticized earlier have some sort of negative impact on the audience. They take away from a viewer’s ability to enjoy the work while giving them nothing extra in return. The image protection methods that I would encourage make life easier for viewers.

Best of all, my recommendations are fairly cheap, quick and practical.
Continue reading Good Ideas for Protecting Your Images

Bad Ideas for Protecting Your Images

The last several posts have been inspired by a conversation I had with several recent graduates at the 2010 OCAD grad show.
Their work was good, and I was interested in seeing more. When I asked if images of their work was available on their websites, I discovered that they both refused to show any samples of their work on-line due to fears of copyright infringement. This struck me as backwards. Hiding their art from the world seems like the exact opposite of what any young, emerging artist should want.

One of the artists said that he had every intension of making his work available, but he would only do this once he had figured out some technical copy-protection tools.
In this entry, I will discuss my objections to several different technical copy-restriction techniques, and propose some examples of what I think are better alternatives.
Continue reading Bad Ideas for Protecting Your Images

Copyright From an Artist’s Perspective

          I have been following the copyfight since the days of Napster (that’s 11 years now). Despite being an artist myself, I have always instinctively sided with the more anti-strong copyright leanings of the tech crowd. This seems to put my opinion at odds with most of the other artists I encounter. I am slowly learning that my stance on copyright isn’t something that can be politely discussed among artists.

          “Information wants to be free” is the meme that best captures the gist of the free-culture perspective. That quote is only a small part of what Stewart Brand actually said at the first Hackers’ Conference in 1984. The full quote was, “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other”. By “free” Brand was talking more about control than he was about price. But, over time, the exact meaning and extra words were dropped, and “Information wants to be free” is what people remember.

          I have never been the slightest bit convinced by any of the arguments from the side pushing for stronger enforcement and stronger copyright law. The copyright debate reads almost like arguments from the evolution/creationism ‘debate’; one side has logic, reason, and an ever-growing body of evidence, while the other side has charisma, wilful ignorance, and very deep pockets.

          In the copyright debate, I am drawn to the techy side because their arguments actually follow, they eschew passion and emotion and focus on the cold hard reality. They focus on what is. The supporters of strong copyright tend to focus on what ought to be. The heated nature of the debate comes from what I think is a misunderstanding of the other side’s position. People on the pro-copyright side are making moral arguments about what people should do, while those on the anti-strong-copyright side are making economic arguments about what people actually are doing.

          I’ve just never found these moral arguments to be the least bit convincing. File trading is out there, it happens, and it can’t be stopped anytime soon in the foreseeable future. Telling people that they shouldn’t share files because, “it’s wrong”, doesn’t really do anything to solve the problem.

          My stance on the issue is this: If we artists are supposed to be such creative people, why don’t we stop fighting piracy, and come up with new ways of doing things that use file sharing to our advantage?