Today, I returned home and checked RB as I do almost daily. I found that I’d had several angry comments on about half a dozen images of graffiti taken on a recent urbex.
These comments were from two graffiti artists whose work I’d taken photos of and posted on RB.
They were exclamatory in tone, incredulous that I was apparently “making money from their art.” They were very upset that I had somehow stolen their work and so decided to leave aggressive comments, (now deleted).
I had also previously posted the images on Flickr and today, also received an angry and aggressive message stating that it was “forbidden” to be making money from their art. Despite this being nonsense legally.
After a short back and forth (which you can see at the link above) I decided to remove the images from potential sale, notwithstanding feeling as though it was more than they could and should expect.
I guess I’m writing this journal entry, something I’ve not done before, to get a sense of what fellow photographers and therefore creators, like the graffiti artists in question, of artistic works, think about what the artists felt was so objectionable on my part. Namely, that I “make money” from photographing their graffiti.
To give a bit of background: these shots – search Lillesden Graffiti – were taken in a building with no public access. In other words, the graffiti artists should not have been there and neither should I. Yet, my shooting, processing and posting the works on RB constituted, in their minds, copyright theft.
How do people feel about this?
Have they every right as the creators of the works to be angry and insulted at a photographer capturing their art and offering it for sale? Or do they relinquish their rights the moment they paint in a prohibited space? Has this happened to anyone else? Was I right to make the images unavailable for sale? Or should I have left them as they were? (For the record: I have not sold a single image of their work in any format.)
Interestingly, had I not gone to the trouble of researching the artists (I’d noted down tags left behind at the location) and attributing the works to their rightful owners, they would be completely unaware that such works were available for sale.
So it would seem that my attempt to give proper attribution to the artists has left me open to an attack that those who might attempt no such acknowledgement would be spared.
This is absurd, right?