Copy cats 08/01/2009
As I went through my facebook home page, I came across a message from Zack Arias :  How "creative photographers" teach other photographers - Lesson 01: Rip

When I accessed the website in the message, I found the details regarding a photography workshop planned in Cape Town by Bryan Traylor and Ian Mitchinson.  The first thing that came to notice is that the logo is a replica of Zack’s Onelight logo. The only difference was that the colors of the logo were inverted in the image.  The comments started pouring in Zack’s facebook profile from all his fans stating their shock and outrage at the blatant misuse of his logo. (including mine). The comments also flowed into the imitator’s website and within a few hours the logo was taken off from the website.

After all that head rush and anger, calmness and objectivity set in. What the pretender did was wrong and his guilt was apparent from the speed at which he removed the logo from the website. But the thought that bothers me is the question whether we are any different from him? On one side, we flame at people stealing other’s creativity and hardwork. Visit any online photography community and you would find discussions about how unscrupulous people steal images, display and sell them as their own.  One thing that artists hate is pretenders. But most of us wouldn’t think twice before buying a fake Nike shoe from Bangkok or downloading the latest version of Lightroom through torrents.  Stealing a creative idea might not be the same as encouraging piracy and imitations, but the underlying moral implications are the same.   It is only when we are victimized that we tend to see the issue from Microsoft’s, Hollywood’s and Gucci’s eyes. We are willing to bend our principles and break some, if the risk is appropriate and society doesn’t frown upon it. A person convicted for downloading a music album would most likely garner public sympathy than anger.   Are we hypocrites? Do we have a moral right to be enraged when someone sells your ideas as their own while we support similarly inclined people and organizations?