For a site that has copyright embodied and fused to its very core, I would like to see more attention to art security and practical assistance to those who have suffered from art theft. The problem, although not exclusive to DA is real and will not go away without effort. So here are some semi-coherent thoughts directed to DA and its users about some practical solutions. Consider it an open invitation for discussion. If we cannot prevent those who infringe on copyright
perhaps it is time to reward those that do not . . .
Without the benefit of a survey to determine the extent of art theft and copyright infringement among the DA membership, it would seem reasonable to suggest that many who have suffered art theft or copyright infringement do not take much further action. This may be caused by lack of knowledge, lack of collaborative tools or support, or personal reasons such as lack of resources, insufficient time, techniques or just plain apathy. SURVEY
The results of a DA sponsored survey
to determine the extent of art theft and copyright infringement among its members including all unreported cases
would be truly useful here. Knowing and adjusting the figures to account for members who left DA as victims of copyright infringement would be essential. Equally, knowing the number of members who 'under-contribute' their work or those not signing up for premium memberships due to copyright fears
should be added.
If DA were not interested in conducting such a survey, this could be interpreted in a least a couple of ways. Perhaps the issue of copyright infringement is so epidemic within DA and known to the DA administration
that such a survey would actually cause a serious public relations embarrassment which might require immediate action. Contrarily, perhaps DA have already conducted such a survey and deemed the matter a minor triviality or a mere cost of doing business. If so, you would wonder why the survey was not published
. In either scenario above, would you not want to know?KEEP IT SIMPLE
Let's leave the complications and wrangling of legal advocacy to change worldwide copyright laws and penalties to the experts for the purposes of this discussion and turn our attention to more pragmatic and achievable goals.DA RESPONSIBILITY
For the purposes of this discussion let's suggest and assume that DA has a real responsibility to its members regarding copyright issues, since DA derives significant monetary gain from its members who in turn rely on copyright.
Let's also encourage DA to help its members and public to act both pro-actively AND re-actively to copyright and infringement. May I suggest that only working re-actively on the problem has already proven to be significantly ineffective. PROPOSAL
So for DA to be providing its members with the necessary tools, education, information and interest in upholding and defending copyrights, it would seem to be much more than just a prudent business practice
. Correctly administered, such an undertaking could be practical, significantly rewarding to the DA community, establish DA as a prestigious business leader and even financially rewarding. Allow me to elaborate;
Let's further suggest that DA could easily take the first step by defining a prominent area on DA dedicated to disseminating information, tools and practical assistance of various kinds including;
• A simple dedicated Copyright infringement reporting service with a hot-list of known offenders/sites to assist content searches.
• A method to easily contact a 'DA Copyright Ombudsman' or the like who is an administrator charged with timely follow-up and publication of complaints, report status, overseeing and enforcing DA Copyright rules, etc.,
• Tutorials, best practices and links on how to pro-actively protect art.
• A practical guide to basics - tracing webmasters and compiling information
• A repository for downloadable legal take-down notices available in every language for every state, county, district, country and province for North America and beyond (these could be translated by DA volunteers, perhaps
• A forum to share success and failure stories, ideas, caveats, advice, methodologies and technologies, traps, tips and tricks with local involvement by DA members and administrators worldwide.
• Practical steps in considering, preparing for and taking remedial action.
• A repository of local legal contacts including lawyers, paralegals and additional assistance. (DA volunteers here too?
• A technical repository for technical, legal, hardware and software product details and assistance for all known and experimental methods of watermarking, copyright protection schemes, copyright protection organizations, authentication and detection methods including risks and benefits.
Who knows, this might also encourage DA or even outside entrepreneurs to propose, crowd-source or trial market various hardware, firmware or software innovations useful to the community and copyright holders worldwide. TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS
This last point may need some further elaboration. For example, it is hopefully well known by now that many computer printers uniquely identify themselves on every piece of printed media they produce. If this is useful to prevent you from printing fake currency then surely this same technology should be exploited to provide a possible audit path to those who see their artwork displayed, printed and sold illegally. Thus technical information is essential.
So let's continue our suggestion by including established camera, photo processing, hardware and software company's involvement (and even sponsorship). Let's positively encourage them to freely share and discuss their security, copyright, authentication and detection products, features and services with the significant number of qualified potential customers represented by the members of DA.
It may be news to some that over and above trivial digital date stamping, EXIF and other modifiable metadata, other methods of authentication for digital equipment and digital photographs exist that have enormous potential benefits. Beyond even this, a JPEG file generated from a Nikon camera is digitally different than a JPEG file created by say a Canon, Sony or Fujinon camera. The precise differences and the reasons for those differences are outside the scope of this discussion, but most of the non-proprietary information is available. This can provide powerful pro-active legal and factual ammunition to the photographer or artist to protect and justify a copyright claim. But how many of us should be asking, perhaps demanding
these features when we buy a new camera, for example?NOT JUST PHOTOGRAPHY
Of course a sculptor, painter and many other artists can benefit from the same technology whether or not they use a camera to record and index their artwork. The proliferation of inexpensive 3D printers for example, is only moments away.COLLABORATION
There is no magic bullet, but the benefits of DA administration, DA members, software and hardware innovators, gurus and manufacturers alike to come together has real market value
. For manufacturers to strengthen product technologies and make them better known and accessible, customers must realize the existence and value of such technologies and demand better.DA BENEFITS
For DA to pursue this path, many potential tangible and intangible benefits exist, some already mentioned previously. But in addition, perhaps DA might also have the opportunity to develop its own proprietary methods of identification of all members artwork with corresponding financial and practical benefits. The suggestion that DA could increase its paid membership if it were to have an ongoing, practical, open and collaborative copyright protection community is also a serious business consideration.
Not to mention the marketing value to DA by warding off competitors in a market that can only get more competitive.DA MEMBER BENEFITS
To mitigate any imaginable potential downside costs still further, DA could encourage individual and Group member involvement simply via a prestigious 'DA Community Service Group
', by offering meaningful contributors;
• Features and shout-outs on a prestigious 'DA Community Service' Group to reward awareness and efforts to abate copyright infringement.
• Special Daily Deviation Awards for 'DA Community Service'
• Awarding 'DA Community Service' points with premium values (10x or 20x regular points, for example to give them enhanced and meaningful value).
• Premium memberships or membership extensions
• Reduced renewal membership fees
• Reduced printing artwork costs
• A 'Hall of Fame' recognition for substantial or long-term contributions by members.CONCLUSION
Of course there are some issues and a few potential downsides to this proposal. But I submit they are far outweighed by the benefits to DA as a profitable business
, to members artwork and to the general viewing public. If you think this proposal has any merit, please contact your favourite administrator at DA and tell them of your support of this or any similar proposal concerning copyright. Let manufacturers know that you would buy products that protect your copyrights. Bug DA to conduct a comprehensive survey
about the subject or conduct your own surveys, blog, journal and discuss with everyone around you - especially the many talented programmers and technical gurus who abound at DA. In short, make a fuss
artwork could be targeted next, or perhaps already has been compromised
and you just don't know it yet!DA has a unique opportunity
to take the initiative here to support you and your artwork and justifiably profit from it
. Of course both DA and every one of you reading this, have the right to ignore this proposal. There again, we could all become involved as essential parts of a better DA community.
Yes, I have a dream . . .
I welcome your serious comments and thank you for listening - and yes, I am one of the many victims of art theft. Tupilak
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