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Polyvorous
January 10, 2009 1:42 AM   Subscribe

Polyvore is a website that lets you mix and match online images to make fashion sets and collages. While it has received favour from Web 2.0 pundits, fashion bloggers, and major craft blogs, it has also drawn massive ire from artists that claim copyright infringement and use of personal photos. The anti-Polyvore pressure mainly comes from Etsy sellers, with some support from artists on DeviantArt, Red Buddle, and independent artists - all coming together on Flickr. We Heart It and Ffffound! are also seen as suspect. While Polyvore tries to assuage copyright fears, amidst growing pressure to shut down, many of Polyvore's current users are counter-petitioning for the site to stay.
posted by divabat (16 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The polyvore kerfuffle might not be the most important or serious manifestation of this general issue but it reinforces what, for me, should be the reasonable behaviour promoted and followed on the web: assiduous attribution. If there were direct links from the polyvore collages to the etsy shops from where the images were lifted, polyvore would probably have a whole heap of new members and supporters from etsy.

Perhaps a compromise might be for polyvore to require full URLs and not just a parent URL (etsy.com) for a dozen of the most popular sites of origin. Still, it's kind of lame seeing signs all over the web saying "we'll remove your stolen and reposted stuff if you tell us", meaning that they condone copyright infringement up to the point of protest.
posted by peacay at 4:14 AM on January 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


peacay's got a point.
posted by dabitch at 5:16 AM on January 10, 2009


I've always wondered how site-ideas like this get past the funding stage. "We'll make this tool which enables users to create collages" sounds great, what about copyrights, will you make deals with the sites it takes things from? "we'll link back!" Super, sounds good to me, here's a whole truckload of VC funding!
posted by dabitch at 5:28 AM on January 10, 2009


What peacay said makes complete sense.

It's transparent that Etsy creators should be acknowledged with a direct url to their creation, just as ANY of the other brands are.

What narcissism to think that only previously well known brands are worth honoring with credit/urls. Outrageous entitlement issues there. Bad Polyvore!

It certainly shows me that Etsy designers/creators, however small in business stature, are setting trends, shaping design right along with the Big Names.

That said, Polyvore is a fun idea. Great way to see what's happening in fashion, concise, putting the combining in the hands of the market. I'd think that merchandisers, advertisers and designers would appreciate this site a lot. Store owners too. Playing paper dolls with fashion.
posted by nickyskye at 7:45 AM on January 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just had some fun fooling around there. Playtime. Waiting for Spring.
posted by nickyskye at 1:40 PM on January 10, 2009


but... the full links to the individual etsy sellers' items are listed? like, i know the link text just says "etsy.com," but if you go so far as to click on that link, you're directed to the product page.

no, really. click on the ugly pendant in this collage: it takes you right to the page on etsy where you would buy and ugly bird pendant of your very own.

did polyvore just add that functionality since this morning, or am i missing something? because, so near as i can tell, the bulk of the backlash consists of people flipping the hell out because their images appeared in a form that they did not explicitly authorize, not because of any lack of attribution.

which is a bit bonkers, if you ask me.
posted by wreckingball at 3:33 PM on January 10, 2009


wreckingball: The problem arises when people upload pictures from Fffffound/We Heart It/their own computer, and therefore don't have an attribution link. At the moment you can't get pictures directly from Etsy using the clipper because Polyvore's blocked there.

Also, the main instigators of the anti-Polyvore campaign do visual art, and their claims are that their visual art's been re appropriated/edited and/or their personal pictures have been used.
posted by divabat at 4:26 PM on January 10, 2009


the main instigators of the anti-Polyvore campaign do visual art, and their claims are that their visual art's been re appropriated/edited and/or their personal pictures have been used.

I never imagined any site like this: it's neat to see the uses of the internet beyond my little niches.

But the point above is important. True to form, I immediately searched for "cowgirl," and a lot of the collage material is Gil Evgren's and other pinup artists. You can harvest the images from any number of collector/historian websites without ever having a direct link back to whoever holds these folks' rights. Even with attribution, it would only create a digital trail, and still be incumbent upon an artist or his or her estate to follow the links and make a cease-and-desist.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on January 10, 2009


"They provide uploading tools which enable users to share and misrepresent artwork from all over the web. "

So does Etsy, Flickr, etc. What is the point here?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:32 PM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


ChurchHatesTucker: The artist you linked to does not like Fffffound and We Heart It for the same reason. Some of the wrath is justified, but some of it seems to me like a misunderstanding of website ownership and control.
posted by divabat at 7:57 PM on January 10, 2009


--it would only create a digital trail, and still be incumbent upon an artist or his or her estate to follow the links and make a cease-and-desist.--

But I can't think of a better compromise way forward on the web save for the promotion of attribution. It's ownership and traffic at least taken care of; arguably 2 of the most important gripes in the usual litany of damages claimed by the copyright holders. If you upload an image it will be ganked by someone. It's an inherent risk. -volenti non fit injuria- You can't upload an original or copyright work and then have a total hissyfit over it being misappropriated; it's illogical and naive at best and totally disingenuous at the other end of the scale. With no way around this situation, it would be better for everyone if people/sites/policies adhered to a reasonable behaviour model. If, as copyright owner, that's not good enough: don't put your stuff on the web or plaster it with a copyright notice. That's the reality.

One might propose regulation of image sharing sites I suppose, but the technology is such that distinguishing in law between the capabilities of flickr and blogger say, might be itself fraught with more difficulties than it was worth and could just as easily be made redundant by technological advances before the laws got on the books.
posted by peacay at 8:12 PM on January 10, 2009


I guess I like freedom more than property.

I like Paul's Boutique and The Drugs Don't Work and Biz Markee. I like Planet Rock, I like Duchamp, I like Dali, I like Picasso, I like Warhol, I like Richter, I like Jess.
posted by klangklangston at 11:11 PM on January 10, 2009


I guess I like freedom more than property.

I'm inclined toward the same laudable sentiment, but it's a tricky question. I also think that people who create original works should be able to profit from those works for at least a period of time following creation (I'd be in favor of reducing that period of time drastically - 10-15 years would be plenty, and in favor of allowing 'adaptive reuse' of significant portions of the works as fair use, but not the works in toto). To allow total freedom for anyone to use any image by anyone in any way at any time tends to mean that the artist/producer doesn't profit from the creative act. Who profits instead? Not even the remixer/consumer - the platform owner who provides the means of reworking and redistributing content. I see this as not really 'freedom', but just a shifting of corporatized profit from one sort of large entity to another, with no direct benefit to the artist which can create a stream of supporting income.
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on January 11, 2009


If, as copyright owner, that's not good enough: don't put your stuff on the web or plaster it with a copyright notice. That's the reality.

Reality, meet another one - from the "massive" link in post.

Additionally, some images from Etsy users that had watermarks or copyright notices on them were found to have been tampered with to removed the watermark or copyright notice.
posted by dabitch at 11:39 AM on January 11, 2009


"Additionally, some images from Etsy users that had watermarks or copyright notices on them were found to have been tampered with to removed the watermark or copyright notice."

So now it's a derivative work.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:37 PM on January 11, 2009


--been tampered with to removed the watermark or copyright notice--

No doubt. It's a risk one runs. I admit I've done it - removed copyright notices - but I try to restrict myself to copyright free material that has false notices, ie. pre-1923. In either case I try to be careful about identifying origins/owners/URLs. To the best of my recall I've only had one specific complaint about my m.o. and it was more to do with strongarming the image URL than with 'theft' per se (yet they didn't take up my offer to remove the material). But then, I should probably have recused myself from this discussion; I have much more than a passing interest in this general topic so anything I say should be closely scrutinised if not discounted. I do still think we need a code of conduct 'policy-central' with blog badges and logos etc to promote 'reasonable behaviour'.
posted by peacay at 8:15 PM on January 11, 2009


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