Cruising Mennonite Style

This is a fairly poor photo, but it is the only one I own that fits the above title. Many years ago I was visiting my cousin, Bobbi Wolfe, in Benton, NY when I heard horse hooves clattering on the asphalt. I had just enough time to grab the Kodak DC3400, turn it on and capture this single frame from the driveway before the buggy was out of my sight. Too bad about the camera’s timing that put the lamp post in front of the buggy. Given the slowness of that primitive digital point and shoot, I was lucky to get that single frame. That camera seemed to take forever to wake up, then there was an incredibly long shutter lag – the time between pressing the shutter and the actual photo capture.

Last week I navigated to Face Book to check that one of my posts had been sent to my wall. I don’t often look at Face Book. I keep a FB page primarily as a point of contact and to direct people to my blog posts, so it was just happenstance that I noticed a photo of a Mennonite “stretch limo”. Assuming that he had taken the photo, I asked an old classmate who posted the photo if I could use it in a follow up to the Cruise Nights post. Unfortunately for me he didn’t own the copyright. No permission from the copyright holder, so I can’t use it.

I’m not going to go on too long about this, but it is one of the reasons that I don’t care much for Face Book. It is quite common for people to steal photos from each other and re-post them on that network. I just won’t do it myself. I suspect that it is as illegal as the theft of photos by news organizations and other corporations, but I’ve never heard of a FB user being sued over it. I’m just waiting for some big corporation to steal one of my photos, but it hasn’t happened yet, as far as I know. I could put a huge payoff to good use, particularly since the wall street robber barons crashed the world economy and it now looks like I, along with others of a similar age will be working until we die as a result.

Here is my point: Stealing someone else’s intellectual property is at least unethical, regardless of the intent. I don’t think that Face Book users realize that it is theft. In fact, I don’t believe they think about it at all. Regardless of intent (and I don’t believe there was any negative intent in the case of the stretch limo photo), it is as unethical as taking a verbatim passage from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, then attempting to pass it off as your own. If you have engaged in that practice, do everyone a favor and stop it. Remember the following word and how it applies in that situation: Plagiarism.

But if you are an employee of a large national or international organization and you steal my property, I’m not too worried about it. I am a phone call away from some very good attorneys, I know how to put your money to good use, and I can wait out the months and years that it will take the case to go through the court system. I’m not impatient.