Posts Tagged “history”
“Such miserable pirates are too sordid to engage a photographer to make a special series for them; they prefer to rob an already poorly paid class of men-men who have to depend for their living upon the sale of views taken during the short summer months.”
Most photographers today believe that the problems of image piracy began with the Internet in the 1990s and the switch over to digital in the 2000s.
That’s what I thought too — until this weekend when I was doing research for a book project on the archive site Canadiana.ca. I serendipitously came across some old copies of the Canadian Photographic Journal from 1894 and 1895. If you read about the problems photographers were facing with image pirates and with news organizations that took images without credit 122 years ago, it appears that things haven’t changed all that much.
MORE CONCERNING COPYRIGHT
WE have on former occasions tried to impress our readers with the vital importance of registering their copyright in photographs that are likely to prove of more than passing importance, and we published in a former number a concise article upon the method of securing such registration in Canada.
We have since received numerous complaints from subscribers who have been victimized by pirate publishers. One of these firms of pirates began by buying a few photograms of a prominent Canadian city at a cost of about twenty-five cents each and then published
them as photo engravings in “Souvenir” form at about ten cents the book.
We do not mean to say the photograms thus collected at so little expense were by any means excellent views, and the reproductions were even worse, but still put upon the market at so low a price-they were sold and must have injured the sale of the original photograms.
We have no battle with publishers of these books so long as they pursue their business in a straightforward manner and give the photographers, whose works they appropriate, adequate remuneration and proper acknowledgment of authorship.
But we have no sympathy with the meanness of those marauding pirates who infest certain cities and rob hardworking photographers of the results of their labors. It is all very well for these people to say they bought and paid for the views they republish, we admit that they did so-but they did not thereby acquire the right to republish those views and sell them in opposition to their original authors.
Such miserable pirates are too sordid to engage a photographer to make a special series for them; they prefer to rob an already poorly paid class of men-men who have to depend for their living upon the sale of views taken during the short summer months.
These same parasitical publishers seem- to be imbued with a natural inborn baseness that prevents them from giving the men they rob credit for being the authors of the original photographs, whereas if they had the decency to publish the names and addresses of the
photographers we might consider it in the light of a redeeming act of grace.
How often do we see even in the public press such titles as “Minne-haha Cathedral From a Photograph.”
Why are publishers so averse to give credit where credit is due? Is it because they are ashamed to publish the name of their victim, or is it because they fear he might be a gainer of some notoriety if his name was mentioned?
If newspapers are mean enough to take the liberty of appropriating men’s work and publishing it, they should not be too mean to advertise him by mentioning bis name and address.
Since there is such a lamentable lack of honorable feeling among a certain class, the only remedy for photographers is registration of copyright and, again, we urge our readers, if they do not wish to, be at the mercy of copyists, to register each of their choice views.
We know that the Canadian Copyright Act is hardly in accordance with the requirements of photographers-the rates being (in their peculiar circumstances) especially high-but still registration is the only way of protecting individual interests.
In Great Britain there has been recently formed an active “Copyright Union” which is virtually under the wing of the Chamber of Commerce.
The active promoters of this union have our most hearty sympathies; they are doing a good work for our British brethren and deserve the undivided support of every photographer in the land. Canada has long been in want of such an active body to protect the interests of photographers.
We believe the time is now ripe for the formation of such a union here, and we believe the best expression of our sympathies with the organizers of the British union will be the formation of a similar body in Canada. We want an amendment to the Copyright Act an
amendment that will be an equal gain to photographers and the treasury of Canada.
Individuals cannot secure this, a powerful combined effort can do so.
The active co-operation of all photographers is required to fight for that which is, according to the unwritten code of honor, their individual right.
A year later in May 1895, the Canadian Photographic Journal published this letter from New York City.
SIR, -At an informal meeting held by a number of representative photographers of this city, March 14, 1895, it was unanimously decided to issue the following prospectus to the prominent members of our profession, submitting the plan proposed therein to their earliest consideration, and requesting their immediate reply to same address, Committee of the proposed Photographers’ Copyright League, 13-15 West Twenty-fourth Street.
Art in photography is at last a generally acknowledged factor, and the productions of photographers have become the chief source of supply for the illustrations which fi1l newspapers and periodicals. Even the courts now recognize that fact and extend the protection of the copyright law to all such photographers as are artistic.
During the past ten years a vigorous battle has been waging between a few determined photographers on the one hand, and an indiscriminate host of lithographers and other pirates, on the other. The latter had become so used to appropriating without leave whatever they saw was good and original in photographic publications, giving in return neither remuneration nor even credit, and the results to them were so profitable, that the effort to break them of the pernicious habit was no easy matter.
On the contrary it developed rapidly into a serious and bitterly contested struggle.
Thus far each photographer has done his fighting, sing]e-handed, and generally against large and powerful corporations. In spite of this, however, the result has been almost uniformly a complete victory for the photographer, decision after decision being rendered in his favor by the courts, though often only after years of burdensome and expensive litigation.
In view of these facts and other reasons which follow, we deem it wise and expedient, at this time, to band our best men together, so, that in future a united front will be opposed to infringers of all kinds.
There have been many demands within the past few years for such a union, and we know of no question now rife in the fraternity in which a community of interests would be more desirable, mutual and in every way advantageous to us ail.
Our proposition is that an organization (to be known as the Photographers’ Copyright League of America) be formed at once, and take upon itself, by means of an advisory committee to be elected annually, the prosecution of all infringers of the copyright works of any of its members, whenever a proper case for such prosecution is presented by him ; that it defray all expenses of same ; and that in return, so as to make it self-supporting, a fair percentage of all recoveries so obtained, be turned into the treasury.
The nineteenth century definition of photogram is obviously different from today’s “image made without camera”. From the context it appears to refer to souvenir postcards.
In the nineteenth century, Canadians were encouraged to register copyright materials with the Department of Agriculture. Today, under the Berne Convention, Canadians don’t have to register, but can if they wish with the copyright office. However, unlike the United States, there is no requirement to file a copy of the work.
An online search has found no references to the Photographers’ Copyright League of America. It would be interesting to find out what happened to the organization.
One has to note that despite the fact that magazine masthead shows a woman photographer with a camera on a tripod, the copy is somewhat sexist, referring to photographers as “men” and a “fraternity.”
And now a word from our sponsor……the latest gear for May 1895 (ad in the Canadian Photographic Journal.)
I was in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, BC on Friday, May 29. I was able to pay a brief visit to the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site. I had always wanted to see the site, but in the past my visits to Prince Rupert were either in the winter, when the site is closed, or I was too busy filing to clients to have the time.
So here are some of the photos I took, converted to black and white, appropriate since the North Pacific Cannery was the longest running cannery on the west coast, operating from 1889 to 1981. It was named a National Historic Site in 1987.
The west end of the cannery site. The two small buildings are replicas of the houses that were occupied by workers from local First Nations. The large building to the left is the machine shop and First Nations net loft (Robin Rowland)
A fishing net hangs from the rafters in the First Nations Net Loft. The building was built in Port Essington and moved to the cannery site in 1937. The loft was where First Nations fishers stored, repaired and hung their nets. (Robin Rowland)
Another view of the loft. (Robin Rowland)
The main part of the cannery at low tide. (Robin Rowland)
The cannery’s old fuel dock was separate from the rest of the facility for safety reasons. (Robin Rowland)
Another view of the old fuel dock. (Robin Rowland)
An old rowboat on the cannery grounds. (Robin Rowland)
The west end of Smith Island, Port Edward, BC, captured driving back from the cannery site just as the fog rolled in. (Robin Rowland)
From the time the film was created in 1935 until the last hours of 2011, Kodachrome produced some of the greatest colour photographs of the Twentieth Century (and a few in the Twenty-first)
The end has come for Kodachrome.
So it is entirely appropriate that I choose to use this image, taken in Kodachrome at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park London, back in 1978 for this blog. Although I have seen the “The End is at Hand” image in countless cartoons, especially, of course, in the New Yorker, this is the only time I have actually seen and photographed such a sign.
Last February, after Kodak announced the end of Kodachrome, I posted on the blog some of the few favourite shots I took with Kodachrome, of my 1976 visit to Pompeii
I said at the time. “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” quoting, of course, the Joannie Mitchell song.
I also said I would post more photos, but taking early retirement, selling a house, moving across the country and getting settled in took up much of time.,
Now the Kodachrome epoc has ended, I have gone through the all to few Kodachrome images I shot. As I said in an e-mail to a friend I was a kid (the first roll was shot when I had just turned 15, the last when I was 35) for someone with not much money, it was more convenient both in budget and time to shoot Ektachrome or another colour slide film. Then it was more convenient to shoot digital.
So I have created a photo gallery called Kodachrome and the kid
The first roll was shot on Dominion Day (now Canada Day) July 1, 1965, in my old and now home town of Kitimat, BC, during the Dominion Day parade. I shot two cameras, an old Kodak 620 using black and white and my father’s battered viewfinder camera (I hope it was a Leica, but I can’t remember). I must have been a budding photojournalist even then, the subsequent roll, likely Ektachrome, shows that I was running across the street to get different angles.
The next two photos don’t jog my memory. One is of Jesse Falls, which flows into Douglas Channel south of Kitimat and the other appears to be a river rapids. I have no memory of any boat or river trips or taking those pictures.
The next photographs are from my post university back packing trip to Europe. I bought a few rolls of Kodachrome and used the film for some special areas. The first was the Essex coast, where my father grew up. Next ones are from my two day hike along the central portion of Hadrian’s Wall. I am not posting the standard, cliched shot of the wall when it climbs a hill near Housesteads, but a couple from the fort at Corbridge and a portion of fortifications along the River Tyne, south of the wall. There are images from the River Rhine castle cruise and finally a shot of the Roman Forum (after which I was running out of money and film and bought more Ektachrome).
The next few images are back in London in 1978 at Speakers Corner, a year later from San Fransisco (again on both trips I shot mostly Ektachrome). The last images are from the time around Christmas 1985.
All I can say, like many, I wish I had shot more.
How many times do we say “if I had a chance to do it all over again….”
Well, if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would have shot more Kodachrome. Joni Mitchell was right, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
In all those years, I only shot a few rolls. Why? For a poor student back in the 70s, I thought it was too expensive. It was also more convenient to get Ektachrome and take it to a 24-hour custom lab in Toronto rather than mailing it away and waiting a couple of weeks. (Or so I thought back then).
A couple of coincidences came together in the past week or so.
First, I love old steam engines and the age of steam on the railways. The current issue of Classic Trains magazine celebrates the end of steam in North America 60 years ago. The magazine style are stories of rail fan memoir and personal experiences. To my surprise , these memoirs by men who were teenagers (youngest 14) or college students in 1960, shot Kodachrome. There were lots of those rich Kodachromes in the issue, capturing those last days of smoke belching black engines. So it shows, I probably should have shot more Kodachrome.
Second: I was looking for an old shot for possible use in a story I was writing for CBC.ca. Although the shot eventually wasn’t used, the image was in a yellow plastic box of Kodachrome slides that I had taken during my post-university backpacking trip to Europe.
I scanned that one image, then decided to scan some more.
My visit to Pompeii in September, 1976..
This is one om my favourite shots from my visit.
The ampitheatre in Pompeii, September 1976 (Robin Rowland)
The gladiators who fought in that arena were trained in the nearby Gladiators’ School.
The school for gladiators, Pompeii. September 1976. (Robin Rowland)
The forum in Pompeii, September 1976. (Robin Rowland)
A street in Pompeii. September, 1976. (Robin Rowland)
The theatre at Pompeii, September, 1976.
There are more shots of Pompeii and others from that trip back in 1976 on my Photoshelter site.
In the next week or so, depending on work load, I will upload a second set of Kodachrome images from that trip, the Rhine River castle tour on a day of pouring rain.