Unsplash - concerns... from a photographer

As a photographer (primarily), I’m naturally concerned about the rights of photographers, and fair rates of pay for image usage. On the other hand, I also realise that some photographers allow free use of their work on sites like Unsplash, albeit with certain conditions. One legal condition, enshrined by the DMCA (and the CDPA in the UK) is that any embedded metadata (or electronic rights management information) is not removed or altered from images. I have downloaded several images from Unsplash, and not a single image has retained any photographer information. Wether the photographers have chosen not to embed metadata in their contributions I have no idea, but I sincerely hope Unsplash aren’t removing it by design (also referred below)

The Unsplash feature in Rapidweaver is very useful, but it does leave a lot to be desired, and I hope, in the interests of fairness for the Unsplash contributors, that RealMac could apply some influence on Unsplash to address these concerns.

  1. The ‘search’ facility does not provide any way of searching by the photographer name or ID… For example - search for William Iven or Firmbee inside Rapidweaver… I don’t think a single image of William’s appears. You can search on Unsplash website by username, and I think that should also apply inside Rapidweaver… It is depriving these photographers of their promise of ‘exposure’ by not being able to find them by their name.

  2. Unsplash issue : Searching for the image title can reveal hundreds of irrelevant results, yet still not an exact match…
    Search for “woman holding an iphone” - thousands of images, many of which do not even contain an iphone, let alone a woman holding one. Yet that is the exact title of one of William Iven’s images…

  3. Unsplash issue: Metadata is completely stripped from the images downloaded. This creates orphan works of the photos. While the images are licensed without requiring a fee, they are still protected by copyright, and the author’s name and contact details, as well as copyright attribution should still remain in the downloaded images. Unsplash should ensure these details are not stripped from the downloads.

  4. These issues arose from a bug where previously downloaded Unsplash images (downloaded into project resources) can no longer be dragged into image stack placeholders… I am trying to find the images again using the interface inside Rapidweaver, but clicking ‘view the authors page’ isn’t working, and ‘View in Browser’ option shows the image, but without embedded metadata, it is impossible to know who the author is, or the title of the image. This also makes it virtually impossible to credit the correct photographer afterwards.

I just think it is up to the individual photographer to make sure his work is licensed properly. I fully respect their right to be paid for their work. I in no way am trying to say that anybody shouldn’t be paid or recognized for their work.

I do believe if a photographer wants to give his stuff away on unsplash without any licensing information attached, he also has that right. It is a terrible idea to make it in any way other peoples business or concern.

I do not concern myself with such matters. Realmac has enough to worry about with their own software. I for one am very happy unsplash is an option. I strongly suggest keeping good track of the images you use. I in no way condone stealing other people’s work. If they let me use it free of charge I am not going to argue…

If you are concerned maybe bring it up to the unsplash people.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy & Healthy New Year.

Absolutely valid point

You’ve raised a very important issue, Jason. I do agree with JohnJ’s suggestion.

It should be unambiguous whether these photos are stripped of metadata on Unsplash site (with or without photographers’ consent), or the metadata is lost in the process of importing photos into RW.

And yes, the search feature is below unimpressive…

Looking at the Unsplash API documentation looks like the search is a keyword type search.

My bet is the metadata is what they return with the API get as well.

I have a strong feeling that the metadata is stripped by Unsplash, as I’ve yet to find an image hosted on the Unsplash site (even the full resolution image not served by their resizing processor) that has metadata embedded in it… I may be wrong of course, but that is my suspicion.

I’m tempted to try and contact a couple of photographers to see if they upload their images with embedded metadata - because this has important consequences for Rapidweaver users who have been approached by services like Copytrack and Pixsy for alleged copyright infringement.

It is true that the liability for copyright infringement lies with the person who publishes the image, so as I’ve read in other threads here, where some people have fallen victim to someone uploading images without permission to Unsplash, then unsplash removing them, leaving the Rapidweaver user facing copyright infringement claims… Unsplash uses the defence that it is an ISP - an Internet Service Provider, which under the DMCA (and EU Copyright Directive) removes their liability for infringement (providing they act to remove infringing material expeditiously once notified), on the grounds that they do not have direct control over the material uploaded to their site.

However - this protection is removed if Unsplash make any changes to the content - even if it is automated. So, IF Unsplash strip metadata from uploaded images, that would mean they ARE liable for the infringements, and not protected as an ISP - since they are modifying the content, and therefore have editorial control over the content.

The Rapidweaver users would still be liable - however, under mitigating circumstances - in that the infringing material MAY have been uploaded with the original photographers genuine contact details, but if Unsplash are removing the metadata from the images, then THEY are the ones that make it impossible for the end user to determine if the copyright owner is different to the Unsplash user claiming ownership.
It also means any user facing copyright infringement claims are then able to bring Unsplash into the proceedings.

That’s a VERY important point.

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I haven’t even thought about this particular scenario, but it is very possible. :astonished:

Well, I am not very concerned with the Unsplash (or any other service), because I almost always use my own images. In rare cases where I use someone else’s photos, I always use them by explicit permission.

Anyway, this Unsplash issue should be sorted out one way or another. And RealMac Software should take proactive position on that, IMHO, as they are the ones facilitating the import function from Unsplash.

From a technological perspective, I’m really not sure that Unsplash will invest in a search based on metadata (unfortunately).

But they already do, effectively, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to search for keywords…

AFAIK, keywords (tags) is a different data compared to metadata. It depends on their tech stack. What they use for indexing and etc.

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