I know this is a diatribe in the face of the reality of the world today, the Internet with all the free stuff, such as music, books, news, articles, and even photographs and images. It seems everyone thinks and likes everything is free if it's posted there, and don't seem to want to recoginze or respect an individual's ownership of their work, from music, writing or images. If it's there it's equally shared with and by everyone.
Ok, a bit much and not everyone, but then it's seem all too common someone steals some images from a photographer's photo gallery to use under their name, to print for their interests, or post on their own Website or blog. We seem to thinks it's ok to download from a Website and upload to their Website without recognizing copyright or publication laws or posting the photographer's identity or link to their Website. I know my images aren't that great for anyone to really like let alone steal, I post to express my own work.
I've posted what I view of image copyright, and you can get a full view of the legal issuses and laws from the Library of Congress. And I know to many people this is more of a big, "Huh?", since they don't seem to grasp the idea about intellectual property rights. I don't know why nor if they'll ever understand, but I can hope they will or have an experience where they learn.
If you do download images because you think it's free, and all the labor and love the photographer put into getting the photograph and producing the image is lost on you, do you ask yourself if it were in a store, would you steal it then? You would have buy it. So why think because it's on the Internet, where the photographer is displaying their images to showcase their work for prospective customers and other photographers, it's now there for free?
Why all the noise? Well, a recent post on photo.net told about a guy in India posting copyrighted and published images on his blog with no recognition of the photographer, and in some cases, labelling some of the images as his. He can't be prosecuted for copyright infringement but his Internet Service Provider (ISP), located in the US, can be notified to discontinue his Websites. That's about the limit of international copyright infringement.
But even then some of the ISP's aren't all that cooperative to shutting down people violating copyright infringement. Google's Terms of Service pretty much distances themselves from the content of their user accounts, and goes so far as not post any e-mail contacts anymore to notify of copyright infringement, even requiring it be repetitive infringement and any complaint filed in writing to their address.
In short, the ISP's don't really care, but if you care so much, they'll think about it. We've dropped to a level of living with the situation because no one wants to spend the time protecting other peoples intellectual property rights. The ISP's just want the ad revenues from users' account and don't want to be bothered with the content. But touch their stuff and they change quickly into a defense of their property rights.
So the big ISP expect the individual photographer to take time from their life and work to document and prosecute anyone they find stealing their images, except it's almost impossible to know when, where and who is stealing their images. Most incidents of discovery come from happenstance or by luck, or sometimes when someone else notices your images somewhere else. So, the photographer is left to display poor quality images, knowing there is little anyone could do with them if they were stolen.
And that reduces the quality to those viewing them, It's not hard to produces Web-only images, all the software packages has several ways to do that. It's just the nature of the world today. We can share, just not share the best of what we have to offer the world.