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, TheStolenScream.com, a blog of all the uses of his image he finds... and (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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Not the big names ..

    "This might work out for some no name photographer but this would never work out for a photographer who was already big." [ paraphrased from old school AC's book of Mike is always wrong, Volume 1]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Pixelation, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 11:51am

    Here is someone to support. Well done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Jackie, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Mojo, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    >>Artists like their work to be published and seen by as many people as possible.

    But their agents and managers are more interested in getting paid. It is usually the middlemen who do the suing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

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

    He got paid by National Geographic, so he's already in the black.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    Whether he makes money on this or not, it happened and there was nothing he could do about it. Embracing it is a win for him because he doesn't rack up court costs and lack of sleep fighting every instance of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Hiiragi Kagami (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Content is the advertisement for the product.

    Not hard to figure out... for some, anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Greevar (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    The product being labor, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    Re:

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

    I just bought something, so I guess everything this site ever posted is no validated.

    Debate ended.

    What are you going to blog about next, Mike, baseball or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    labor, talent, time, access, exclusivity - anything scarce that can be offered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 9th, 2011 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Marcus, I think your spleen needs replacing - that'll be $1500. :p

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Jose_X, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 6:55pm

    Re: He has given needed expression to many in the world

    To start, others are already selling t-shirts and other merchandise, so he need only drop by and ask to trade endorsement of some sort for some change per item.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Jose_X, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 7:13pm

    Not bad for a one-night's stand

    Generousity saved the cat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

    we are gonna drown in t-shirts and plastic mugs if every lensman adopts this model!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    iveseenitall, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 10:26pm

    Popularity.
    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2011 @ 5:55pm

    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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Arena Creative Stock Images (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    What a story

    I loved this story when I first saw it. The moral of it is, never post anything anywhere (especially high-res, and non watermarked) on a website as public as flickr, unless you want people to take take take until you find find find the photo all over the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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