Retaining Control

´╗┐Here is a story to be aware of and a lesson to be learnt. In the days of the “free” internet industry, signing up for free items and offers could actually backfire.

South African author and artists Shubnum Khan turned up for what was apparently a free photo shoot, promising a professional portrait in exchange for being snapped. At the time, the author and some university friends had gone along to the 100 Faces shoot, and thought that the picture would be used as part of art project or portfolio – in fact, she and others distinctly recall the art project line being touted a lot.

The rush in which papers were signed and photographs taken perhaps masked the true intent and purpose behind the use of the photos. Years later Shubnum would find her face used as a stock image, plastered all over the internet, and used for a variety of promotional purposes, all without her knowledge and apparent consent.

The face of the author has appeared in a variety of media – this include an advertisement in a newspaper for immigration, an advertisement for Dermolyte, and for purposes such as deviant ones, including web identities for fake testimonials. Of these, the last is perhaps the most alarming. The use of fake identities and pictures simply highlights that it is not enough to take a website at its face value, but when we are considering purchasing something, we should simply be more cynical about what we are reading.

There is also an example to be made about media that exists in digital form. When you are taking an image, a piano recording, or a poem – anything that is easily replicable in digital form, you have to be very careful about its circulation, especially if it has repercussions on you. In this previous instance, the person involved would be seen to be endorsing wherever her image appeared. If you record a piece of music, say on the piano, using microphones, and requiring sound editing, it is likely you will need the help of professionals, but the more people you involve, the more likely the chances of ill-distribution. (Find out more about recording piano music from the Crouch End Piano Teachers blog. If in doubt, try to retain control over things that you have created, or your own images!

Football players have publicity employees to help manage their image rights. We are not all necessarily going to that extent, but it highlights how something as simply as a picture of ourselves can have repercussions if the rights are given away easily.