Indigo Imposters

I posted back in May 2009 about how the False Indigo had captured my imagination and gone on to garner the attention of others, the image from my first post about it in 2007 even ending up on a shampoo bottle. Incidentally that first post remains the second most popular post on this site, ever.

In April 2010, Charleston Mag contacted me for permission to use that very popular image to illustrate their article Meet the Imposter and with perfect internet manners credited me as the author of that image and added a link to my site.  I say 'that very popular image' because I've discovered, since google now allows you to search for an image by it's url (or by dragging the image into the searchbox), that image has been used by quite a lot of people without the exquisite manners of Charleston Mag.

I don't have a *huge* problem with this as I subscribe to the notion of Dandelion Thinking ie if you are going to put 'work' on the wild web then you should allow the winds of the Internet to toss your works to every corner of the globe. It actually makes me happy to see 'my' images illustrating discussions on forums, or being posted as a source of inspiration. In these cases, proper credit is nice but, I get it- maybe you dragged it into a folder and forgot its original source. No big deal. Neither is it necessary to reach out to me to seek permission or even add a link, I'm perfectly fine with just a text credit simply because a random search sometimes digs those up too.

However, when I google 'False Indigo' and see 'my' image in the first page of results but it links to a commercial garden center it gets to be a little peeve worthy. If you are going to profit from it's use, I think a proper credit is called for. Or even better, an offer for a packet of seed would have been nice. If you are a journalist or a respected garden blogger, I think some effort should be made to either name or link back to the author especially if in the case of the former, you state at the end of each post that your own material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

I do realize, the onus is on me to protect my own work. I don't however love the idea of slapping a huge copyright or name in the middle of the photo. I used to post a bigger version of my framed post image, which is probably how that original image self seeded all over the web, but have since discontinued that practise. I also understand that where the line is drawn in these matters is also relative to your personal views. I 'curate' or 'aggregate' things by other people I like on the web myself,  always with a link to the source but not necessarily by contacting the author first. I think this is ok but there may be others who don't.

It's also worth noting that it's getting easier to use someone else's image albeit with the ability to easily link or credit via inherent software of tumbling or reblogging or the latest player - Pinterest. This is, I think, a good thing as the value of images drops in relation to the vast amount that is produced and floating around on the interwebs. When someone thinks your image is good enough to pin or tumble or talk about or mash it up into a new expression or idea then I'm all for it.

Also worth noting that taking pictures and posting on the web aka 'sharing' is now a completely new experience from before. Point and shoot quality images can be taken with your phone and immediately sent to the web. With Google plus, it does it automatically and then you decide later if you want to share it. Again, I like this, as an important facet of 'gardening', the 'looking at' part, is now something you can do online. Also, researching, thank goodness for all those images and accompanying titles and posts to help discover what that plant was that you saw. On that note I'll end positively to say I am thrilled to see that 'my' image of Baptisia Australis has played a noteworthy role in helping people identify and enjoy this lovely plant - perhaps you even bought one because of it.


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