Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Polyvoracious: Polyvore is in your Flickr account, Stealin' yer Images.

[These are examples that show the theoretical original intent of Polyvore but the top example includes text from a rubber stamp sold on a stationery site and the photo of the model on the bottom example was pulled from a model directory site. I'm sure the model and/or the photographer had not intended the photo to be used for an uncredited fashion collage.]

Its come to our attention that the site Polyvore has started to infringe on many artists', photographers' and illustrators' rights. The site was originally designed to allow users to access the online photo editing software to build fashion- or home decor-based collages to create "trend boards." When I initially test drove the software, it was pulling images pretty exclusively from retail web sites like Gap, J.Crew and the like who, according to Polyvore spokespeople provide financial kickbacks for sales generated through these links.

Many of the images are now being pulled from personal Flickr pages via Flickr Hive Mind which does not actually link back to the original artist or photographer (Here's a link to any Polyvore collage with the keyword Flickr in it -- that's a lot of images! ). In other words, people are using artwork without permission and without any notification of use or any image credit. Even Polyvore's original intent seems to break an endless stream or permissions and copyright laws especially as Etsy sellers, small boutiques and other vendors are unknowingly providing images to the Polyvore users.

A petition has been started to shut down Polyvore. If this is an issue that's important to you, please sign it!

In the meantime, if you maintain a Flickr account, double check your settings to make sure your images are listed as "All Rights Reserved". Then go over to Hive Mind and at the bottom of the page you can authenticate your account and then banish yourself so your images will not be available to Hive Mind or Polyvore. While you're at it, send an angry email to Flickr/Yahoo and tell them how angry you are about Polyvore and maybe they'll send in the big gun lawyers if enough people threaten to not renew their accounts.

[This is a prime example of uncredited image use from Polyvore, the pink haired Blythe doll in the corner was pulled from Flickr via Flickr Hive Mind so the photographer received no credit nor is there any way for her/him to track down its use on Polyvore unless s/he happened to stumble across it like I did. The balloons were swiped from a company's site that actually sells latex balloons so I'm sure they hadn't intended their images to be used in someone's collage! Other images were pulled from the graphics directories of other web sites and Photobucket.]

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