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Monday, May 21, 2007

Looking [up] a gift horse...

People... we've been down this road together before. 

I totally get the whole 'oh look what I just found in my inbox... I absolutely must share it with everyone in my entire address book right this very second' thing... really I do.  We've all been there.  We open an email and find a stunning gift inside; a beautiful picture... a juicy rumor... a hilarious joke or an eloquently written political op-ed, and we suddenly have the uncontrollable urge to bestow this 'gift' on everyone we know (and quite a few whom we don't).

We'll leave aside, for the moment, the broader issue of those rumors and urban legends that so many of you insist on forwarding without trying to verify first.  You know how I feel about those.  [~glare~]

The big problem (as I've pointed out in previous rants), is that these 'gifts' of pictures, jokes and op-eds you forward so easily with just a click of your mouse, aren't really yours to give. 

Now don't get me wrong... in most cases, I doubt anyone would mind having their work forwarded around the world... so long as proper credit is given, that is.  But still... think about it... those beautiful 'gifts' didn't spring into the world fully formed.  They were created by someone.   And with the miracle of powerful search engines such as Google, it is a rare picture, joke or op-ed that can't be traced to its source within 30 seconds of checking.

So why aren't you checking???

A perfect example of this phenomenon is the following series of stunning images that landed in my email inbox overnight.  They show a bunch of life-size equine sculptures that have been fashioned from driftwood:












The effect is absolutely breathtaking... and they are so realistic in both form and [implied] movement that I kept expecting the horses to pick up their head, glance in my direction and then run away! 

The only thing lacking was a shred of information about the artist!


I was running late for work, but a I quickly submitted the search terms 'driftwood' and 'horses' to Google... and guess what?  The first hit I got was the artist's website!  How hard was that??? 

I contacted the artist (Heather Jansch) at her studio in England's Westcountry, and she very graciously gave permission to republish the images.  If you would like to see more of her work, please go to her gorgeous site

The lesson we learn from this, boys and girls, is that while we may consider the stuff that washes up in our inbox to be exempt from the usual rules of polite society... each of these 'gift horses' was created by someone.... so please take the time to give credit where credit is due.


Posted by David Bogner on May 21, 2007 | Permalink


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At first look, it seems like photoshopped digital art - but no, they're real creations, and they're really perfect. Thank you for showing these, and moreover, it's simply prime that you took the time to contact the owner of the images. It's especially prime, because it's an independant artist and not one of the monster corporations...

About the usage of images and other IP - people care less and less. I have given up on telling people, "Hey, thank you so much for the friendly plug.(thought bubble: about which I found out myself and thanks to google alerts, because though you stole took my photos, you didn't bother to contact me!)"

Some people think they're doing an infinite act of kindness, stealing your images and plugging you. They don't think that they should contact or even credit you. Or send a trackback along with their post, if applicable.
One of the answers I received went along the line of, "That's quire rude of you to tell me this. I am always grateful if my customers give me free advertising, and so should everyone else."

If everyone went by such a logic ...

p.b. there's currently a comment spam wave going through the world of MT, be warned....

Posted by: Account Deleted | May 21, 2007 4:24:04 PM

With all of the horsin around in my email I am glad that someone finally said something.

Posted by: Jack | May 21, 2007 5:43:38 PM

thank you for this.
from the artists perspective as well as the bloggers perspective.
(nice horses too!)

Posted by: weese | May 21, 2007 7:26:37 PM

Wow - that's beautiful art. Giving credit where credit is due... A few weeks ago a new client of mine said they were at an industry conference and were impressed to see that one of the presenters actually referenced some of my earlier work - referenced by name! That's very uncommon in the consulting world that I work in, so that was a nice surprise.

IP protection is very important for those of us who make a living via images, words, ideas and so on. Thanks for the reminder to give credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Steve Bogner | May 21, 2007 8:11:09 PM

Hi David,

Great post! Loved it!

Thanks for sharing it!

I posted about pugs, Star Wars, chocolate fountains, gaming and Star Trek today... you should check it out if you get a chance.

Wishing you and yours well!


Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | May 21, 2007 8:14:40 PM


interesting article

"are we all theives?
high tech heists & halacha"

Posted by: Robert I | May 21, 2007 10:28:07 PM

oh, huzzah. Every time I get one of these "it's true, my cousin's nephews accountant's sister told me" emails, I always search it, and send the results back to the sender. I was cracking the whip over the Larry Miller email so strongly, that I actually saved a template to send to people.

Whenever someone sends me a photo that is stunning, I try my best to search for the author/artist. If I can't find it, I usually won't send it.

Thanks for reinforcing the message. And for getting permission to share the photos of these amazing sculptures! Now I'll have a source if anyone forwards them to me.

Posted by: progjen | May 22, 2007 3:44:36 AM

wooho...love it!!! chag sameach and thanks for sharing

Posted by: marallyn | May 22, 2007 7:48:24 AM

a. ... Thanks for the spam warning. I spent a few minutes deleting comment and trackback spam. As to the main point of your comment, I think you and I are completely on the same page about such things. :-)

Jack... I may have to fine you and extra sausage link for each bad pun if you keep this up. :-)

weese... I hope you showed it to your lovely wife!

Steve Bogner... Nice to hear that some people still give credit. It is becoming rarer and rarer.

Maksim-Smelchak... I'll be sure to do that, but you should also provide a link to your site so others can check it out too.

Robert I... Not all of us, but the majority? Yes.

progjen... I get a lot of eye-rolling and 'but everyone does it' comments from friends when I take them to task. Many have simply taken me off their mailing lists (a mixed blessing). :-)

marallyn... My pleasure. Go over and show some love to the artist if you have a sec. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | May 24, 2007 11:30:06 AM

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