The 'Stolen' Scream: Photographer Discovers His Image Is Everywhere… And Embraces It

from the how-to-do-it dept

loricnet points us to the wonderful story at F-Stoppers called “The Stolen Scream.” It’s done as a video, which you can watch below:

It’s about a photographer Noam Galai, who had posted a photo of himself screaming on Flickr. A few years later, he discovered, much to his own surprise, that the photo was being used all over the place. The photo is on t-shirts, in magazines, on book covers and a variety of other places. But rather than freak out and go ballistic (or legalistic) about it, he went a different route. He embraced it. He started posting an archive of everywhere that he’d seen his own face appear — including as a symbol in the Iranian protests against the government. And then others came and saw the archive and sent in more examples they had seen. So now, he’s set up an entire website,, a blog of all the uses of his image he findsand (quite smartly) his own store to sell things with the image printed on it.

David Bergman, from F-Stoppers, points out that his first reaction, like many he spoke to, upon hearing this story was to wonder if he was suing anyone, or if he was trying to protect his works. He even notes that he “couldn’t understand” why Noam didn’t seem particularly upset about all of this. And, eventually, he came around to realizing that maybe this wasn’t a bad thing:

There is no way to know for sure but I bet if Noam had watermarked his images from the start, none of this would have happened including the Glimpse Magazine cover. The people that were looking for “free” images online would not have contacted him if his images were watermarked, they would have simply found another image to use. By allowing his images to be public, Noam has gotten to experience something that many artists would give anything for. In my opinion, this experience is worth more than any advertising agency could pay for the image. Noam has made almost no money on these images so far, but I believe the money will come. I know many, if not most of you, will disagree with me but I see Noam’s Stolen Scream as an amazing example of art and the power of technology. I believe everything worked out for the best.

Not only that, but I’d bet people are now a lot more willing to buy all that gear from him directly. First, because of the whole “stolen scream” concept, he’s getting even more attention, and the image is getting additional attention. On top of that, people now know that they can support the original creator directly, something which often drives people to buy. It’s really a great example of how to respond to such a thing. As he says in the video:

This is the thing. Artists like their work to be published and seen by as many people as possible. Usually, when someone paints a nice painting, he wants as many people as possible to see it in museum. I’m not a big fan of people stealing my pictures, but it’s better than not having all those people see my pictures at all. It’s another way to publish my work. It’s not me publishing it, but it’s other people publishing my work for me. If I had taken this picture 20 years ago, the only place it would be is in my room and that’s all. I don’t think anyone would know about this picture.

There’s also a funny bit at the end, where he tried to offer the image via a stock image service, and it was rejected, because the stock photography company claimed there wouldn’t be any interest in that photograph. As Noam says, “I guess they are wrong.”

Of course, we’ve seen this elsewhere as well, but it’s always nice to see yet another example of people realizing that there can be massive benefits to others promoting your work for you. You just have to learn how to embrace it, and set up ways to capture some of that benefit.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The 'Stolen' Scream: Photographer Discovers His Image Is Everywhere… And Embraces It”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jackie (profile) says:

He has given needed expression to many in the world

I think his image is very powerful and has moved people all over the world. And has allowed them to express something they felt but otherwise had no means of expressing.

Great work!

Recognition is helpful to a good artist and this image has allowed him to begin establishing his career as an artist.

Perhaps, like Banksy, he’ll be able to make money with books and his own renditions.

Mojo says:

Mike, please keep tabs on this and let’s see if he actually does make any money on it.

If he does, a lot of your theories about the new age of copyright and how artists will make money will be proven right.

If he still walks away without a red cent, well… it will simply prove (or at least provide another example) of how if people can get something for free, they just ain’t gonna but it.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If he does, a lot of your theories about the new age of copyright and how artists will make money will be proven right.

Really? There are plenty of other examples of people making money while distributing their work for free, but the pro-IP voices have yet to accept any of those as “proof” or even as “evidence” – they generally just reject them out of hand.

iveseenitall (profile) says:

Think of it as a planet where the more popular the artist and artwork are the more advertisers flock to your site.
No mystery to unravel, no privacy to invade because popularity is transparent to all rather than filtered by iron grip institutions.
In such a world any person would be free to fling their creative work into the wind for all to like or not. For any to improve or not.
Artists fighting to be heard not protected or preserved.
Popularity. Follow.

Anonymous Coward says:

it wasnt stolen, he posted it online, if he wanted to keep it, he never would have put on the internet

no brainer, sue them all for money, making the lawyer rich, or try to cash in on it somehow and hope to make himself some cash

this isnt an example of giving something away for free and making money, he wasnt giving it away and trying to sell tshirts at the same time

after the image became popular he is trying to make money, not the same thing

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
16:10 David Braben, Once Angry At Used Games, Now A New Business Model Embracer (33)
18:40 Artists Embracing, Rather Than Fighting, BitTorrent Seeing Amazing Results (10)
15:41 Vodo's Big Brother Bundle Shows How Bundles Can Improve The 'Pay What You Want' Concept (12)
23:06 Price Elasticity Can Work: Dropping Ebook Price To $1 Catapulted Year-Old Book Onto NYT Best Seller List (58)
16:03 The Good And Bad In Chaotic eBook Pricing (35)
05:18 Game Creator Finds That Knockoffs Can't Match His Awesome Game (33)
23:09 The Value Of Kickstarter: Connecting With Fans On-The-Fly (18)
10:02 Massive Growth In Independent Musicians & Singers Over The Past Decade (101)
23:54 Cool New Platform For Supporting Artists: Patreon, From Jack Conte (23)
05:46 A New Hope: How Going Free To Play Brought Redemption To Star Wars MMO (48)
11:16 There Is No Logic To The Argument That Zach Braff Shouldn't Use Kickstarter (105)
06:00 When Startups Need More Lawyers Than Employees, The Patent System Isn't Working (55)
03:14 Hitchhiker's Fan-Site Started By Douglas Adams Shows Why Authors Shouldn't Panic Over Derivative Works (27)
09:21 Patents As Weapons: How 1-800-CONTACTS Is Using The Patent System To Kill An Innovative Startup (54)
07:19 How EA's 'Silent Treatment' Pushed The SimCity Story Into The Background (55)
13:30 Deftones Guitarist: People Who Download Our Music Are Fans, They're Welcome To Do So (29)
13:10 Macklemore Explains Why Not Being On A Label Helped Him Succeed (29)
03:45 Successful Self-Published Ebook Authors Sells Print & Movie Rights For $1 Million, But Keeps Digital Rights To Himself (43)
11:53 Musician Alex Day Explains How He Beat Justin Timberlake In The Charts Basically Just Via YouTube (52)
00:09 Publishers Show Yet Again How To Make Money By Reducing The Price To Zero (42)
20:13 Flattr Makes It Easier Than Ever To Support Content Creators Just By Favoriting Tweets (61)
16:03 Case Study: Band Embraces Grooveshark And Catapults Its Career (21)
19:39 Amanda Palmer On The True Nature Of Connecting With Fans: It's About Trust (131)
16:03 Kickstarter-Funded Movie Wins Oscar For Best Documentary (89)
13:41 It's Fine For The Rich & Famous To Use Kickstarter; Bjork's Project Failed Because It Was Lame (20)
17:34 Connecting With Fans In Unique Ways: Band Sets Up Treasure Hunt To Find Fan-Submitted Sounds In New Album (10)
07:27 Just As Many Musicians Say File Sharing Helps Them As Those Who Say It Hurts (131)
20:00 Skateboard Legend Stacy Peralta Demonstrates His Latest Trick: Cashing In By Going Direct-To-Fan (13)
23:58 Wallet Maker Shows Everyone How To Make Their Own Awesome Wallet (16)
11:27 $274 Million Raised Via Kickstarter In 2012 (8)
More arrow