A few thoughts about copyright and Instructables

I have had some excellent exposure from some of my projects on this site. My Nintendo card reader was published in Popular Photography magazine. My geek wallet went pretty viral. Even my shopping cart bike was picked up on Wired and may be published in an Italian magazine. These have been great because they have had my permission to publish my work. But there have been some negatives.

Many splogs (spam blogs that just scrape content from valid blogs) have essentially stolen my photography. Thanks to a tip from someone near Boulder i was able to pick up a copy of a newspaper that had published one of my photos "courtesy Instructables."

I'm happy to have other people take my ideas and tweak them. That's why i post my projects here. That's why the license i have chosen for all of my projects is Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike. This specifically states "This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms."

So when a newspaper publishes my photo without my authorization and credits Instructables that gets me a little hot. When someone takes one of my projects and then makes a video of it and submits it to the MetaCafe rewards program that seems like a violation of my license. And when dozens of splogs pick up a popular project and i have to go around trying to get photographer credit it makes me really reconsider if sharing projects on here is actually beneficial to me at all.

I'm sure others have had their great projects ripped off (if they want to retain any rights) in the effort to contribute to the community too. Admittedly, i do have a Leatherman and a few t-shirts and magazine subscriptions to show for my efforts. I do want this site to work - i truly believe in it.

I guess i'd like to see image protection for projects that have specified that they need to be attributed. I'd like the license more visible on the project pages. Perhaps a "if you write about this project provide a link to Instructables.com as well as the author's website at xyz.com" type footer to projects.

I suppose i can watermark all of my photos and put copyright notices all over my pages and it would be moot.

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jessyratfink10 years ago
I've never really thought about this that much and I'm not sure what we could do to get more credit for things. I certainly don't want to paste my real name all over everything I make. ;) So far, I've been interviewed by Jezebel.com, and I'm going to be in Theme and Adbusters... and they were all wonderful to talk to... but I wonder where else my work has gone? I do know that my Barbie Doll Electric Chair has ended up all over the place... and in some cases, in places where I didn't want it. (Foreign fetish porn sites, for example.) But it's so hard to track my projects after I've completed them. :P
Out of idle curiosity, I googled Barbie Doll Electric Chair - all the sites I found credited the 'ible directly (or at least owned up with a link).

One site (sribd.com) has had the article removed.

Quite by chance, a side-link from one of the references brought me to some quite cool Soylent Green stickers (you're supposed to take them to the supermarket and stick them to stuff )
Kiteman Kiteman10 years ago
LOL - this is why I love the internet:

A few more clicks looking for reference to your project, and...


...I recall doing a similar experiment involving Barbie's head and a lightbulb.

WHAT I LEARNED: You can dispose of the solid physical evidence, but you can't get rid of the smell.

And a darn weird site:

gmoon Kiteman10 years ago
Gotta love that Photoshop.... But the link is also appropriate for this topic...as the original images were 'found' on the web...
There are tracking/sniffer programs out there, but most of them are not cheap.
Err... there's Google :P

Thats awesome for you!
I am referring to those industrial trackers to do not make you wade through tons of false positives. ;-)
trebuchet0310 years ago
Interesting... Was it really courtesy instructables? Did they actually get permission, from instructables as "courtesy instructables" suggests?

i have to go around trying to get photographer credit it makes me really reconsider if sharing projects on here is actually beneficial to me at all.

I completely agree with your frustrations - but, for a moment, consider the alternative. Would you get the same exposure, consistently, on an independent site?

That aside, how would you answer this:

What is more important to you?
a) how many people your work reaches
b) how many people know your work

Neither answer is more noble than the other ;)

Not to skew your answer, but personally - I'd rather reach more people, even anonymously. Also personally, I haven't done much in the realm of world changing ideas - well, ideas yes (like most); implantation -not so much (I'm working on that though :p).

But after saying that, there's a reason I haven't changed my avatar and use the same one everywhere. While at a party in California, someone actually asked me if I was the same person from some other site as recognized by my avatar - I thought that was pretty cool - so I guess people are making the connection.
zieak (author)  trebuchet0310 years ago
Here's a link to the scanned image from the Boulder County Business Report.


I wouldn't get the same exposure - I'm certainly aware of that. I have submitted projects to magazines and major sites on my own and they have not been picked up - only to have them featured by those sites later when presented in a top 10 list by some blogger.

I guess i want my cake and to eat it. I'd like to reach the maximum number of people and still retain some ownership of the idea/project/photo... there's probably a bell curve to draw here.

Thank you everyone for the excellent thoughts, comments, and discussion.
trebuchet03 zieak10 years ago
Yeah, I saw that image -- but I'm wondering if courtesy as printed means they got permission from someone - or at least attempted. Obviously, not from you - I'm fairly certain you would remember that (and at least request a copy be mailed to you :p). But I really wonder if they even attempted to ask.

I guess i want my cake and to eat it.
Oh, don't we all :p And at the same time, everyone else wants a slice of pie :p Life is, after all, some sort of twisted bakery of sorts (with a special on nuts too) :p

On an only marginally related note... What does your cart bike have to do with the percentage of garbanzo beans in some brand of hummus?
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