Welcome to the Internet. Now go home.

6 min read

Deviation Actions

mjranum's avatar
I post stuff here, on fetlife, and on tumblr. Well, I used to - now I hardly do at all.

Not because of copyright. I understand that when you post something on the internet, you're posting it for everyone to look at, and it's going to get shared around. But the comped-up piece of shit you see above (minus my commentary) is all over the internet - it's far more widely distributed than my original version. Back when I used to read my messages here and on Fetlife, I had 12-20 messages per day about stuff like this. Mostly it was people trying to be helpful and telling me "HEY! Look over here, there's another person who smeared shit all over your art!"  And it used to take me an hour every morning to cut and paste URLs into DMCA requests to get this kind of crap taken down.

Welcome to the Internet - 1 by mjranum

But that's really only the tip of the emotional iceberg for me. About 1 in 10 times that I post a DMCA I'd get a message from the person who had posted it. So not only would my inbox be filled with woe from all the copyright violations, I'd get a breakdown approximately as follows:
10% You #*!@&^!ing @#*&!@! I hope your !&*!&^# falls off and you die of cancer!!!
30% By posting an image on the internet it's in the public domain (followed by 3 pages of complete wrongness about copyright)
30% You can't make me stop! Nyaa nyaa nyaa fuck you nyaa nyaa!
20% A lecture about how mean and rude I am
5% A genuine apology
5% Well, I like it anyway, so in spite of your having complained to me and explained why you don't like it, is it OK if I keep it up? (completely clueless in other words)

Understand, as I do, that that's a small percentage of a small percentage of all the people who share my images around. But with the size of the population on the internet, it's a large number in total. On a site like Fetlife, that equates to about 100 threatening or angry emails a year. Yeah, it really makes me feel appreciated.

I set that against the times when someone comes up to me at a conference and says "dude, I love your photography!" or I get an email from someone asking please please please for a high resolution version of the file because they want to make a big print of it and frame it for their sweetie. Or, the occasional emails where someone thanks me for my stock photography helping them get a cover gig for their first book cover. Those are great. I love those moments. But they sure as hell aren't as often as the angry, petulant, bratty, or downright snotty lectures I get from ignoramuses who want to hide behind their personal interpretation of copyright law (which, by the way, is universally wrong) or who are incapable of saying "I'm sorry."

Welcome to the Internet - 2 by mjranum

Let me tell you a true story: one of the better online friends I made on Deviantart is someone I got to know because they ripped off one of my artworks and photoshopped on it (brilliantly) to turn it into a photocomposite. I told them they couldn't do that, and they said they loved my stuff, and I suggested they use a different image - here - ... and we were off to the races. We've been swapping ideas and I've been shooting custom stock for them ever since; It's a positive and nurturing creative collaboration.

You see, I'm not some ogre. I want to get my art on just like you. But I am increasingly feeling backed into a corner. I got into doing the wet plates because a) it's cool  b) I get to work with nasty dangerous stuff  c) it looks awesome   d) you cannot duplicate a plate; it's a unique artwork. I started doing wet plates in order to protect myself emotionally and to protect my art. Oh, want to know how that turned out? Some cheese-brain was taking the scans I post of my wet plates and removing my art from them, so he could use the edges in his images because, yeah, they look cool!! He. Threw. My. Art. Away. Because. The. Only. Part. That. Was. Useable. Was. The. Edges. I almost offered him a wet plate so I could get his address and go talk to him about it face to face.

These are the emotional trade-offs I'm up against. I've finally had to confront the fact that if I want to keep posting stuff on the internet, I'm going to have to utterly concede to the faceless horde out there. I will have to either stop altogether or give it all away. Not just give it away technically, give it away emotionally. And that's the problem: if I don't care, it's not going to be any good.

Submission - 1 by mjranum

If I didn't give a shit how my photography looked, I wouldn't give a shit about someone photoshopping their bad high school poetry over top of it. I wouldn't argue with them. I'd just have to lie there and take it, and I know that eventually it's going to mean creative death for me. Perhaps where I am headed is toward making photos just for myself, and not sharing them with anyone. That's sort of where I am, already. I have boxes and boxes of wet plates on a shelf over at my studio. There, they sit. I have tens of thousands of digital images on my hard drive(s). There, they sit. I am frozen at the perfect apex between anger, disgust, and the desire to quit.
© 2014 - 2021 mjranum
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papayawhipp's avatar

How are you now??

Hope you are feeling better. Love all of your work!

HonestDrake's avatar
I use your photos as references for drawing and sculpting. incredible photographs!
but yeah! I understand your frustration!
Just started looking at your work.  Very nice.  I dont come to this page often.  Please keep posting or share a page you can.  Nice work.  Big nipples fan. :) 
Charlene-Art's avatar
Awe. Reading this kind of made me sad. I hope you are in a better place now, emotionally and artistically. So many of us on DA love you and all the work you do makes so many artworks possible! Heck, I'm sure at least half the photomanipulations on this site would not be made without the use of your stock! I hope 2016 works out well for you, and regardless of your decision, should you stay on the internet or leave (personally, I hope you stay for self-centred reasons admittedly. I love your stock. You dominate DA! Those half-assed fuckers ripping you off would be nothing without your art and idealistically you shouldn't pay them any mind but I know that definitely isn't reality) I hope that decision brings you peace of mind. I suppose if you let it rest for a while you could always come back to it if you really feel like it. And if leaving it gives you peace... then you do what's best for you buddy.
Ecchi-Senshi's avatar
Noooooooooo~ All I got.
I like your art. Thank you.
Hadakajime's avatar
I found your post very interesting, with the key point for myself being:
"And that's the problem: if I don't care, it's not going to be any good."

That is so compelling in describing the mechanics of everything about the situation - causes, reactions, psychology, etc. Everything all boils down to this. It's inextricable.

Posted to facebook for awareness
angelGraham's avatar
Hugs. So sorry you are dealing with this.
Mfenberg's avatar
ugh..  I don't have it quite as bad as you because I try hard to be mostly oblivious to what happens to my stuff because when i RAGE!!! its bad for me.  Sigh..  but yeah... what you said.  
Akemisatya's avatar
JustmeTD's avatar
Kinda makes you wish you knew where he lives so you could go over and take the tires and wheels off his car, with him watching, because you like his wheels . And then have a tow truck come and haul the rest of the car away to be smashed. You got what you wanted , right! So just throw the rest away. 
  Showing off your/our work is the biggest part of the payoff .  Then to have it stolen and then find it again in the hands of some shmuck . 
Well, I join with you in being pissed . 
  Your work is awesome ! I know it is or folks wouldn't steal it . That sucks , but there it is. Hang in there, and good luck. My best to you and yours .
Sekky's avatar
This was an emotional read and I'm sorry for the stress that follows when posting your work/sharing it with us. I thought I had a pretty good idea of the issues great artists face with creative theft and how demoralizing it can be but I didn't really have the picture painted as perfectly as your journal did. "He. Threw. My. Art. Away. Because. The. Only. Part. That. Was. Useable. Was. The. Edges." That part really got to me, that just sucks so bad... Gosh. I wish you the best luck in all your work, and don't let them suck the creativity out of you...
FallonRay's avatar
I am so sorry you deal with so much tripe and idiocy. I will simply say that I use your work on occasion for my own enjoyment and likely have not properly thanked you. So THANK YOU so so so much for all you have shared. You are a badass Ninja-level photographer and I have very much enjoyed having had the privilege of using and even simply browsing your great work. I will greatly miss what you do.
stonedInc's avatar
I work in an ad-works company, the usual motto within the office and in the locality around here is- if the artist does not know that we've used it, then it's kewl.

It's kinda disturbing, I have mentioned more than once that we need to give something to these artists from whom we take these pictures, their time, work and thought process is unique and most have painstakingly achieved whatever they have- from a talent and creativity point -over a long period of time. So, let's not be disrespectful, do you know what I got in return as a response, "meh".

It is a fucked up world!
onlycomeoutatnight's avatar
Thank you, sir, for lending us all your stock images. Thank you for inspiring us with these tools for creation...especially since so many of us do not have access to models regularly, and because your stock images are SO damn good.

And THANK YOU even more for your art. It inspires. It motivates. It lightens the mood, or darkens it...and communicates ideas far beyond the reaches of paper or pen or internet alone. It is transformative. It conveys and deconstructs and re-imagines and twists...

I don't blame you at all for never sharing another piece of art after this repeated violation and the frustration...I get it, I really do. But if you decide to keep sending us your art, sending us messages and letting us into your creative world...I'd be personally thrilled. Please just know that it matters to us, to the ones NOT stealing from you...it matters. Your art is a big deal. Thank you for sharing what you have already...anything you decide to share from here on out is also a big deal. Please...know I appreciate what you've done so much. Thank you.
And now I see your "no photomanipuations and no overlaying text" policy back from 2008 mjranum.deviantart.com/journal… .  Law aside, respecting that would have been courteous at the very least.  The author of the poem above has deleted her post, so I can't see whether she at least acknowledged where she got the photo.
mjranum's avatar
No, she didn't acknowledge it - she gave me a hard time for making fun of her shitty poetry and even had the incredible gall to complain that I was violating her copyright. Fucking entitled internet kids, get offa my lawn!
I just saw this now.  There are a lot of entitled people on the Internet for sure, and a lot of the big scary problems might be better if more people had thrown a few bucks in the kitty of some open-source projects in the nineties and oughties.  I have always taken copyright seriously even before I was selling writing.  I just come from a background where photos are documentation, and of course you crop them or mark them up or combine them however best lets you show what you want to show as long as you cite your source and do not sell copies without getting the rights. 

But you hire models and set up lighting and spend a lot of time editing your images, and as copyright holder you have the right to set whatever conditions of use you want.

I am glad that you have found the energy to post again. 

all the best,

I have noticed a lot of thoughtful people dropping off the Internet in the last five years or so.  The Internet has certainly made it easy for people to steal things, but also for people to publish things which they would have never been able to publish before, and to find like minds who they would have never stunbled across in person.  I enjoy your photography, but I haven't paid for it, and if a hobby isn't fun it isn't much of a hobby.  It does seem, though, that artists in other media have had to deal with people reworking, adapting, and imitating their work in ways that they would not have chosen for a long time.  A culture of crediting sources may be the best that we can hope for.

All the best.
motionwind's avatar
Hmmmm how about you share them on a personal website and use a script that cuts them into fragments, in other words you'd be able to see them on the webpage but if you wanted to save an image to your computer you'd have to save 50 small JPEGs that make up the image, and reconstruct them in photoshop. No matter how much anyone wants a background for their poetry post, that's simply too bothersome and time consuming to do, not to mention you'd have to have ridiculous precision to not mess up with your reconstruction.
onlycomeoutatnight's avatar
If they were really dedicated, they could probably "print screen" and use it that way...but maybe combine that with a block of some sort (don't know if that even exists...) so they could not "print screen" and would be forced to save individual fragments? *sigh* They could still take a picture of their screen I guess, or print it and scan that...I really like the idea of making them work for their theft. Most of the people stealing his art for shitty poetry or snarky memes are not going to take the time to piece together 50 fragments. 
suruha's avatar
I'm so sorry.  I didn't realize it was so bad!  I appreciate your work very much.  I don't know what to say.  Thanks?

padruig's avatar
your art is NOT my stock ...

it is my inspiration,
it makes me wish I had room to rebuild my studio,
it makes me dream of new computational resources (working on that now)

your art is NOT my stock ...

you have a stock site here on DA
it is worth its digital weight in digital currency
in its digital form it takes place next to my boxes of art and photography books

I use to keep the wheels turning in my meat computer

I do understand that the internet is a vast arena of uncaring, unthinking mongrels
who don't understand color balance or visual weighting
computers are our saviors, computers are our overlords

in my journeys in the digital world I frequently find the product of DA artists that has been
altered, modded and otherwise left near unrecognizable

I take those lost souls and remind them that underneath their layers of digital graffiti
someone spend hours in a darkroom, behind a camera or busing dishes to pay for a new
camera, digital back, lens, paying a model, new post software ...
just so the original image is as close to perfection as possible by the artist
who sweated coffee, cheap cigarettes, and comments made by loving friends and parents
about an activity for which they may feel will come to nothing in your life
but for you is the sheer act of creation ...

pursue what stirs your heart
the Universe outside of you can take care of itself
the Universe inside of you,
that is what matters most !
mjranum's avatar
Thank you for that; thank you for taking the time, and caring.
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