India Uncut

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Somebody else's family

I stand at the start of the food street at Goval Mandi in Lahore and take a photograph, and suddenly this guard comes in front of me and demands that I not click pictures. I ask him why, and throw in a "janaab" because it sounds so cultured and suchlike. He says that I might accidently click a picture of someone else's family.

I understand where he's coming from, and it triggers off thoughts about a completely different context: the internet. Except for wide-angle, panoramic shots, or crowd pictures, I don't intend to post photos online without the consent of the people in the pictures. But there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, maybe millions of personal pics of people posted online, often with the consent of their subjects, and these are frequently used in ways the subject and photographer would perhaps not approve of. I recently discovered one blog, for example, that just draws pictures of pretty Indian girls from Flickr as posts on itself. So you could take a picture of a friend chilling out at a party in a sleeveless t-shirt, post it on Flickr with her consent, and then some chap could just post the pic on his blog for people to lech at. To my knowledge, there are loads of such blogs which aggregate from Flickr. The issues involved here go beyond photo copyright and suchlike. Worrying, and I suspect the answer lies in technology itself.

(A longer post on Goval Mandi follows at a future date, after more trips there.)
amit varma, 1:14 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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