The “Fall” of Flickr Royalty

February 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Social Network Sites | 1 Comment
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Plagiarism on Social Network Sites

Rosie Hardy: Did She Cross The Line?I love Rosie Hardy. Every day, I check my contact list on Flickr to see if she’s uploaded a brilliant new picture because her work is truly breathtaking. This week, I was greeted with yet another wonderful piece by Rosie- but this one was accompanied by a sad story detailing her hiatus that she will be taking from Flickr. The reason?

The “Rosie Hardy Plagiarism” Blog

You can Google “Rosie Hardy plagiarism” if you want to read all the gory details, but to sum it up: Rosie copied/stole/was inspired by (depending on what side of the fence you sit on) other photographers’ work when creating a handful of her own. A Flickr member, known as Harry, called Rosie out on his blog over the past few days. He posted side-by-side comparisons of her work and the work of the original artists. With some, there is no argument- the photos are undeniably similar. Others, it’s hard to say. Could it have been coincidence? If not, where is the line drawn between creative inspiration and plagiarism on the Internet?

Plagiarism in the Age of the Internet

Flickr, Photobucket, Shutterfly, Snapfish… there are tons of photo-sharing websites on the Internet, and millions upon millions of members on each site. With all of these pictures on the Web, how can one keep track of them to make sure they’re not being used illegally? And what constitutes illegal?

Right around Valentine’s Day, I saw dozens of pictures posted on Flickr which featured heart shadows created by a ring. Did each of those people plagiarize each other? Or did they take inspiration from another’s photos? Or did they coincidentally discover that inserting a ring into the binding of a book causes a heart shadow on the same day?

How about all the people who have ever written something across their knuckles and snapped a shot? Copycats? Does it depend on what they write?

See where I’m going with this?

So where do we draw the line? And how do we monitor all of the information that’s out there? The Internet is a glorious thing, but it also opens the door to issues that never existed before. With so many people interconnected, can there ever be true originality ever again? Or has everything already been done and posted on the Web?

Whatcha think?


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  1. I hadn’t been on Flickr for a time because of my heavy workload. When I did return I was very surprised to find Rosie’s photo in my contact stream with the apology attached. I read the blog and really started to feel ill about it. Not so much for what Rosie had done, but for how the community was reacting.

    It is all kind of sad really. Sure enough, we have a situation where a young girl (I remind you she is a teenager) has admittedly crossed a line. There are questions whether these lines are legal or just moral in nature. I frankly do not care!.

    After a brief reaction of trying to defend herself, she responded with a precise, no excuse apology and withdrawal from the limelight to gather her thoughts and conduct a little self reflection.

    Once the onslaught started, the mass of fans (who once propped up her fantasy, house of cards, pseudo-celebrity status) turned into a bunch of blood thirsty Paparacci like opinion mongers. (OK – many were still supportive). I encourage all of you who reacted with such strong opinion to think of the most embarrassing thing that you have done in your teens and then imagine that you were in front of tens of thousands of people when it happened and that you had to listen to each one berate you in front of the mob.

    I can’t help but think about the motivation of the individual who discovered the similar or original works and created a site to expose it. Really, it is all about intent. Either he made a really big and hurtful mistake, or he accomplished exactly what he wanted. If his intent was to “right a wrong” he certainly could have contacted Rosie and explained his concerns and given her the opportunity to “right the wrong”, apologize, and come away from it with a little dignity. If his intent was to crush an extremely talented young girl while gaining notoriety for himself, then he was fairly successful (Although I have a feeling that Rosie is very strong and will rebound)

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone what Rosie did. She will have to live with this for a really long time. The fact that she failed to credit the source of her inspiration / original source for a handful of her photos does not negate that fact that she has a tremendous talent. If you put things in context – we have much bigger moral issues to consider. Like – When did it become acceptable to mob and berate a young woman, (barely an adult – no offense Rosie) in public? What is she was 16?, 12? Would it be wrong then?

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