Info

badice.com ~ musings for the masses

Posts from the Popular Culture Category

Yesterday I noticed a lot of tweets and blogs sending their traffic to an article on Slate titled The Recline and Fall of Western Civilization. The article asserts that we as a society are broken because we recline our seats causing those behind us to suffer. It then takes the utilitarian view that reclining seats should be completely done away with. The first thing that came to my mind was, “are we really that bothered by seats reclining that Slate needs an article about it?”. Then I started thinking about the subtle “me, me, me” that was going on here cleverly disguised as “it’s for the greater good”.

Obviously, everyone on the plane would be better off if no one reclined; the minor gain in comfort when you tilt your seat back 5 degrees is certainly offset by the discomfort when the person in front of you does the same.

This quote in particular stood out. Unless you are a very tall person the amount of discomfort one receives from that same 5 degree seat recline is minimal as well. Sure, you may not be able to use your laptop on the tray table anymore, but the idea that you will be “uncomfortable” is a stretch. I am on an airplane a good chunk of every week and there are a lot of other things that are much more annoying and inconvenient than the guy in front of me reclining his seat.

Sure, I think it is annoying when a person reclines their seat right after take-off, or even better, the guy who does it on the ground after the flight attendants walk away, but I see some value in seat recline. I have had a few instances of back pain where I needed some recline to help relieve that pain and that 5 degrees made a difference. If we’re going to ban reclining seats then should ban all items that make trash (people litter), people who sit with their legs open on the subway (takes up my space), and so on.

Maybe what the author really wants to see is a seat like what ANA has installed on their Dreamliners, essentially a seat where the seat back is a shell, the bottom cushion slides forward, and the back cushion slides down. Such a seat gives a recline, but does not infringe on the space of the person behind.

I will say this. No matter how tall you are, products that keep the person in front of you from reclining, such as the Knee Defender, are not the answer. In the end air transportation is similar to a bus. If people want the experience of how nice commercial travel was in the 1960s then we’ll need to bring back regulation, make air travel unaffordable for a section of the population, and close a few airports… No? But it means a “better” travel experience for those traveling.

Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New Yorker on a favorite sport, it’s intersection with dogfighting, and the sport’s effects

The whole article is gut wrenching but I think this quote sums up the reason football, in its current form, may be ended.

McKee got up and walked across the corridor, back to her office. “There’s one last thing,” she said. She pulled out a large photographic blowup of a brain-tissue sample. “This is a kid. I’m not allowed to talk about how he died. He was a good student. This is his brain. He’s eighteen years old. He played football. He’d been playing football for a couple of years.” She pointed to a series of dark spots on the image, where the stain had marked the presence of something abnormal. “He’s got all this tau. This is frontal and this is insular. Very close to insular. Those same vulnerable regions.” This was a teen-ager, and already his brain showed the kind of decay that is usually associated with old age. “This is completely inappropriate,” she said. “You don’t see tau like this in an eighteen-year-old. You don’t see tau like this in a fifty-year-old.”

With technology now able to see the effects of concussions and other brain related injuries football, and the wear and tear it causes on the body, are being examined even more closely. Will the sport go away entirely? No, there is too much money being made from it. Instead we will see more and more regulation put on the sport, especially at the high school and college levels, until eventually, it becomes unplayable.

Foxtrot for iPad announcement

Bill Amend, the author of Foxtrot, is going the self-publishing route.

I’m calling them FoxTrot Pad Packs, because I like the metaphor of collectable cards and how you build up your collection via booster packs. I made them myself using Apple’s free iBooks Author software.

My hope is to release new ones every couple of months or so. Assuming people like these first ones. This is all a big experiment for me.

I’ve always been a Foxtrot fan. I hope this venture is successful for Mr. Amend.

I think we have all done it, at least once, I know I have. Use an image on a website, blog, etc. without the permission or consent of the photographer. A quick search through this site shows an instance or two where I have done exactly that (they’re noted and will be dealt with). In my own experience it’s been about speed and ease of finding the images on search engines that make this such an attractive method of putting images on my blog. But, it’s wrong.

I’ve mulled over this post for the past few weeks and have actually rewritten it a number of times. My perspective is two-fold, as an (amateur) photographer I take pride in my photographs and want to see them well represented, but as a blogger I want an easy route to getting perfect images for my site. After a recent case of unauthorized image use, I thought it was appropriate to speak up on what I am beginning to see trend into a bigger and bigger issue.

Around January 19, 2011 I noticed this tweet by Twitter user Kyle Nielsen. I follow Kyle for his quick hits of Houston news and info and this particular tweet caught my eye because it involved Hubcap Grill, a local place I frequent. When I looked at the image, I immediately realized that it was the picture of Hubcap owner Ricky Craig that I had taken for a Loop Scoop article. At first, I was a little dumbfounded. The image had clearly been edited, as the original on The Loop Scoop has a green border. I contacted Paul at The Loop Scoop to ask if he knew anything about it, to which he replied that he did not. CultureMap had taken the picture without my consent or Paul’s.

My Image on CultureMap's Website

Maybe my immediate response on Twitter was a little over the top. I let loose, asking others why CultureMap would do such a thing. They have a team of photographers, writers, and editors, why would they need to take an image from another website? The responses I received were from a few people who had similar experiences with CultureMap. Some were more vocal than others. As the night drew on, I decided that per my friend Patrick’s advice, the next morning would see me drafting a DMCA takedown notice.

While I was sleeping I received a couple of messages from CultureMap. One asking if I wanted the image removed and another saying the image had been removed from the article. I also had an e-mail in my inbox from Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief of CultureMap. It read as follows:

Dear Mr. Segraves,

Your Twitter thread from last night was forwarded to me, so I wanted to reply to you. I was a bit taken aback by the tone of the comments and hope if this ever happens in the future — which I sincerely hope it doesn’t — we can have a civil discussion on the subject.
Since CultureMap launched in 2009, we have posted 50,000 photos and I can honestly recall only two or three times  that a photographer asked us to remove a photo. So the comment that this happens all the time just isn’t true.
I’m proud of the fact that we make every effort to give credit where credit is due. We will continue to do our best to make sure we give credit and if we mess up, we will immediately address the situation.
Your photo was very nice. I wish you the best in your future photography endeavors.

Clifford Pugh
Editor-in-Chief

Since they had removed the photograph I decided to not send a DMCA take-down notice and just go about my day, but I could not help but dwell on the above e-mail. Mr. Pugh seems to think that my comments on Twitter were uncivil. I am sorry he feels that way, I thought my photograph  being used without my consent was uncivil and reacted accordingly. The two other paragraphs in his e-mail are very important as well. The second, stating that CultureMap has 50,000 photos and has only been asked to remove a photo a few times, is completely misleading. “Having” something means it’s yours. And the fact that only a few people have asked to have their photos removed could also mean a lot of people have no clue their photographs are on your website. The third paragraph is also unsettling. “We will continue to do our best to make sure we give credit …”, great, I am glad you are crediting photographers but what if the photo was sold to the original person using it? What if it was licensed (take a look around their website, there seem to be a lot of AP/Reuters images)? More than credit is necessary in those cases. As well as credit, is CultureMap paying the photographer for their work? Did they even ask if they could use an image? Had I not seen a tweet about the image, I would have never seen that CultureMap had used it. How many other photographers have not noticed their work being used on sites that had not requested permission?

The core problem in this entire situation is that it is implied that it’s the onus of the photographer to protect their work. That notion is utterly ridiculous. Sure, some responsibility of ownership does fall on the photographer but if every photographer completely protected their work then all you would see on the internet is pictures with giant watermarks through the middle of them. The key is for websites, bloggers, etc. to use images that they have either created themselves or those that they have permission to use. That allows photographers to focus on the image thieves.

Had CultureMap taken a few minutes to send a note to The Loop Scoop to ask who took the photograph and for that person’s e-mail, I could have denied permission and they could have moved on. Instead, they searched Google, got an image they liked, edited it, and used it. What this takes is honest people doing honest work. If we are going to stand up against things like SOPA and PIPA then we need to be willing to look at our own websites and say, “everything on here is what I’ve created or asked for permission to use”.

Just like I am sure CultureMap does not want their words used by someone else on a different publication, I do not want my images used places I have not explicitly given permission. Certain things do not fall under Fair Use, images is one. Looking at my tweets and thinking about my response, maybe it was not over the top what I did. Something was stolen from me. Sure, credit was given (though to the website I took the photo for), but I surely was not compensated and I’m guessing CultureMap makes money from the ads they serve on their website. My photograph had a cost associated to it. It took coordination with Ricky, time to take multiple shots and  more time to edit the photographs that would be used. CultureMap bypassed that. The work was already done for them.

Bottom line, let’s get back to creating and publishing our own content and then we can work together to take-out the spammers and image thieves that bottom feed. I should not have to worry about my work being used on a legitimate and well-staffed website, I should be able to focus on the places that are selling my images illegally and other shenanigans.

What’s your take?

I would like to thank Patrick O’Keefe and Jonathan Bailey for helping me during this fiasco. Their understanding of the DMCA, plagiarism, and Fair Use was a tremendous help.

[Addendum]

There have been some Tweets put out by the CultureMap team but these two caught my eye:

@jaylee @groovehouse @sensestorm @mikerastiello @reiswigphoto We apologize for any mistakes we’ve made in the past. We’re learning! – link to tweet

And then this gem:

@MikeRastiello @jaylee @groovehouse @sensestorm @reiswigphoto For some photogs, credit is enough. Clearly not for all. #lessonlearned – link to tweet

The notion that CultureMap is “learning” and that’s why these mistakes were made is a poor excuse. Even if they have only been “asked a few times to remove photographs” then that to me would be a red flag that maybe I should consult with an attorney and figure out what the correct way of going forward is.

Jay Lee, who takes some amazing photographs has a great commentary going on Twitter and he gave me permission to repost the tweets here. They are posted in reverse chronological order and each one is linked to the tweet itself.

It’s important to note that entities like @culturemap are businesses out to make money. When they profit from our labor, it’s offensive.

It should also be noted that more and more photographers are waking up to the realization that their work has value.

To be fair to @culturemap, they do credit the photogs on many or most occasions. But they are not licensing the photos. That is the issue

Photographers unite! Occupy @culturemap! We are the 99%! Sadly, @culturemap’s not the only offender. But they are a big player in Htown

@donjuanc I don’t want to live in an Internet filled with watermaked images. But it may be the only way.

@culturemap Your learning at OUR expense.

I recently used one of my own photos in a blog post on the @houstonchron. And yes, I asked myself for permission first.

Saying you’ll remove a photo after you have used it is like asking the tow truck driver to unhook your car after you have parked illegally

@culturemap @groovehouse @sensestorm @mikerastiello @reiswigphoto Removal is not the remedy. You have benefitted from our work commericially

Obviously this is my fault for taking so many pictures of Houston and Houstonians.

@Bitspitter @wynkoutloud Is there such a thing as a class action invoice? Or an invoice flash mob?

@wynkoutloud Your house wasn’t locked so I invited myself in. And I made a sandwhich and drank the last of your milk.

Providing a photo credit to the photographer is not the same thing as being granted license to use copyrighted material cc @culturemap

It seems that @culturemap makes an editorial habit of using photos without permission. I have found no less than 3 posts using my photos.

I write about this day almost every year, but it’s a day that deserves such an honor.

My post from 2006 is probably the best reminder of that day, so I am re-posting it here.

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944

The uncertainty of the success of the invasion and the possible repercussions if the invasion was a failure is clearly on the mind of the President. 12,000 Allied soldiers gave their lives that day, and many more did the same until the Germans surrendered on May 8, 1945. Their sacrifice and the service of those who made it home can never be overstated.