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Friday, October 14, 2005

Fair Dealing

The upload servers that offer space to golb and other blogs end up making better cemetery plots than self-storage; their custodians are better adoptive parents than babysitters. I know this now, "at this time."

It was a mistake when I hastily uploaded a readily available digital image to photos1. A mistake, because the image I clicked on, which I've been worshipping all year, was a photograph by an artist named Catherine Bodmer. Whoops. Bodmer's photograph is certainly much more than the shots of European vacations and my sister's cat that I have handy on my PC. I can't help but be reminded of the great Railowsky puddle-leaper when I look at Lake 1 [Sans titre (Lac 1)], somehow capturing exquisite beauty amid squalor. Unlike Cartier-Bresson's work, its decisive moment is less the snap of the shutter than the trigger in the viewer's mind that renders the paradox: majesty within the everyday; the mysterious and familiar coalesced into one. I love to talk about it, but choosing how and where it would appear publicly was clearly and obviously not my right. Yet there it was uploaded and ready to display upon command. Reproducing Bodmer's image in a milieu like this one might be considered what is known as fair use or fair dealing, but I simply consider it a mistake, and unfortunately, only my first one. I erred again thinking that whatever test graphic I uploaded I could just as easily remove from the server. Not so.

"At this time", neither I nor the rightful owner, the artist, has real control over the reproduction. It is in cyber-limbo, indefinitely. I have some consolation for bringing this on: the full URL to the image on the server is my own little state secret. Every now and then, I go about busily typing in the address like it's a password without the sympathetic keystroke masking, hoping that maybe "at this time" the image is erased. But it won't erase. I say this because Andrea at Blogger Support, who I fear is a robot, told me so, first by explaining "It is not currently possible to remove published pictures from the photo server" and then, when prompted, by getting down to her brass tacks and squeaky wheels: "Unfortunately, even we are not able to remove published pictures from the photo server at this time."

Why don't I believe the babysitter?

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