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Tattoo pictures, forums, photo-harvesting blogs and ethics


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Recently I have been thinking about a couple of pointed hints (or actual statements) by artists or studios to the effect that they do not want their work re-cycled elsewhere on the web, particularly tattoo photo blogs. In some instances the reason seems to be a concern about the work being passed off as someone else's, but also sometimes it is any reproduction by blogs or sites which exist to harvest and reproduce photos which pop up on twitter / instagram, etc.

While I think we would all agree that a scratcher misrepresenting a stolen image as being his work is clearly a thief and fraudster, what do we make of the so-called photo-harvesting sites? Even when the credit for the work is attributed, partially or fully, you could make the argument that the site does not pay back the artist for the value their work adds in terms of driving up traffic, hits etc. (Would it be different if these sites asked permission from each individual artist? I think this would be an obvious way to conclusively establish whether someone wanted their work used)

Moving on from that, what makes the recycling of images more acceptable on a forum like this? For example: I see an amazing ROA and post it from instagram to the ROA thread.... In a way the end result can be similar to the actions of a blogger, and permission likely rarely sought before things are pulled.

I think the bulletin board concept and sense of this being a community of enthusiasts probably explains a lot : Is it is a less self serving process in some ways, particularly as regards intent? No individual poster could be said to directly benefit from re posting images in the way that a site owner may...

Anyway, curious to hear any thoughts...

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Other than this site and TAM site, I only really see tattoo photos on Instagram or Facebook, from the tattooers or shop's blog/site doing the tattoo. I don't see any reason to use other tattoo sites. The photos I share on this forum, are my photos in the sense that I either took them myself, they are tattoos on me, or they are tattoos from our shop, in which I have been given free reign to promote. Their have been a few times I have used other people's work as examples, but usually limit that to people I know personally and the more and more i see the bigger picture, the less I share of that stuff.

I think this site works because people are looking to promote good tattooing and do so here and through their blogs. Their are so many other sites, facebook pages, instragram profiles that are just looking gain followers in the hopes of being able to at some point sell ad space on a blog, recycling others hard work. The other thing I would point out is most people when they are looking at blogs or sites, aren't there to appreciate the tattoo, in fact most of the people will praise every piece of dogshit anyone posts. I feel like people just use these sites to yank designs, but i mean that will happen to any picture on the internet and that is a whole different discussion with me.

I guess what it comes down to for me, is if I get a tattoo I might post it here, my facebook, and instagram (but maybe not) and I will let the tattooer submit it to other sites if they choose to do so.

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