The Ethics of Posting Pics

So a few months ago, there was a thread going on FootGuys about taking pics from profiles from social networking sites and posting to various blogs without permission.  As a fairly prominent blog author, I had to put my two cents in.  To quote:

I have to admit, I do this for my blog (although I am certainly not taking credit and saying they are my pics… just pics I like and find hot). But this is the nature of the internet. If you post anything in a free and public site, it is a risk you take… Unless you protect yourself, any pic can end up anywhere, and fast.

Now, if I am posting a lot of pics from a single source, I do ask permission. But if it’s just an isolated pic, I often don’t. At the same time, if a person contacts me later and requests it to be taken down, I do so. That said, though, I have to think: if you didn’t want it viewed, why did you post it publicly in the first place? Because if it wasn’t me, it would be someone–anyone else–with some other blog, tumblr, etc. The internet is not private unless you make it so yourself and are careful. Make your profile or pics private if you are concerned. Or watermark it with “Do Not Post”. I would respect that. That’s perfectly your right, and smart if you don’t want your pics out there. Fair enough.

…if having pics from your profile being seen outside of a particular social network is a problem for you (which is fair), then the poster must take some responsibility for their own privacy. Make your profile private… or find a site that doesn’t allow photo sharing. (MaleFootLover and Recon make it much more difficult to save pics. Personally, for that reason, I never grab pics from that site–although a more determined person can work around it and grab your pic anyway, I suppose.) Tag and/or watermark your pic. Or just don’t post them.

Even though this was all discussed a while ago, it has continued to stay in my mind.  So when earlier this month, No Safe Word blog posted about the topic as well, and, more recently, Leather. Bondage. Love., I felt I had to put a small statement together.

As many of you know, I am in a very committed relationship.  And I can say that my boyfriend has never had a problem with any of his pics being shared on the internet.  Do you know why?  Because he doesn’t post them in the first place.  Anywhere.  Period.  Problem solved.  As for me, I don’t mind it as much, which is the implied message by posting them at all, anywhere.  I have seen a few of my pics floating around (most recently from Dick Cash’s blog–thanks again!), but I’ve taken some care into how much of my identity is exposed, and I’m comfortable with that. (Although it did take some time to go back through all my postings and take down a few pics that I felt were a bit too exposing.)

One of the biggest points that was raised is that permission should be asked before reposting.  I concede in a perfect world, I would do so, but given the volume of pics I post, it isn’t very practical.  We also run into the following problem, which I brought up:

Even if I wanted to ask permission, lets recognize that sometimes it’s difficult to know where pics originally come from. For example: often, I’m not posting pics from [FootGuys], but say from Flickr. When it turns out that the Flickr pic I found was in fact from somewhere else… maybe even here [FootGuys]… and I didn’t know it. Same goes with pics I see on Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, and any other blog, message board, or photo sharing site. Who knows where some of those pics originally came from? How am I supposed to track down their owners to ask their permission? Goodness knows people don’t ask on Tumblr, where pics are shared rapidly and indiscriminately.

It was refreshing that most people in the thread seemed to think my blog is a pretty respectable one in this regard.  While no one said it outright, when I defended myself, the replies leaned towards the sentiment “Not as much your blog, but others.”  Which is something I take some pride in, I have to admit.  🙂

One thing I do feel very strongly about… if a pic is tagged, it’s so important to leave it on if you’re going to repost it.  It’s just common courtesy to credit the original source.  I know that I have never removed a tag off a pic (although I suppose that there may be times I’m reposting a pic that already had the tag cut off without my knowledge).  One other thing I feel strongly about is to not post an entire set from a pay site.  These sites, especially the ones that constantly come up with new material, rely on paying customers to continue their work.  Posting entire sets is akin to robbing them, in my opinion, and lessens their ability to continue with their work.  I do occasionally post an isolated pic, and from what I’ve seen from many webmasters, they don’t mind this at times, as it is free publicity for their site.  But of course, in moderation, and never entire sets.  I even recently took a blog off my blogroll, because I was starting to feel it was pushing the boundary of too much content from paid sources without crediting them.  Although I wasn’t posting much from it, it was starting to make me feel a bit of a hypocrite for even linking to it.  I’m trying my best to be responsible, but it isn’t always easy.

I almost feel sorry for such great sites as Captured Guys, TieGuyUK, and Bare Foot Bound… I believe the pics from their sites get posted around more than nearly any other.  (BoundGuys is pretty up there, too.)  Partially because they’re all so prolific.  Usually, the tags are still on, but often they’re not.  Even worse, many people post them to their profiles on FootGuys and Recon and the like.  Now, a few post them stating clearly that it’s not them, and just and example of what they enjoy.  I don’t have as much as a problem with that.  But many seem to be trying to pass them off as themselves–and sadly, they seem to fool a lot of people.  Even I was once a victim of this, and I found my own feet on another guy’s profile as his own.  I asked him to take it down, and fortunately he did.

At the end of the day, this is the internet, and the rule is there are no rules.  But whenever I can, I do try to demonstrate common courtesy.  I hope you agree.  I’d love to know if you have any thoughts on the matter, either in general, or specifically about how I handle it for the blog.

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