Landscape, Lifescape has lived on Tumblr for just over five years, accumulating 11,100 posts. It has been a wonderful hobby for me – a way to get to know the world without traveling, and a way to be reminded of the beauty of the natural and urban environments, when there is so much ugliness in front of us every day. The blog has over 67,000 followers, I was invited to be an editor of the Landscapes tab, and I have tried to be a responsible and engaged member of the Tumblr community.
Instead of being a pleasing, moderately successful endeavor, it appears that Landscape, Lifescape has been an illegal act. I post beautiful photos found online, and over the years two or three people have complained to Tumblr that it is copyright infringement. As a result, Tumblr is going to delete my account.
I’m not a copyright lawyer, but have always considered my posts fair use – I don’t change them in any way, I always include attribution to the photographer and a link to the source image (one of the few landscape blogs to do so), and make no money from it. Images posted on online sites such as DeviantArts, Flicker, 500px and others are often in the creative commons anyway.
Tumblr says I have not contested the complaints, but Tumblr itself makes that impossible. Before notifying me of a problem, they delete the post, along with the attribution and link to the original source image, so I can’t even figure out what image they’re talking about or see how it was originally posted. (Over 11,000 images – no, I don’t remember them all just off the top of my head.) I got a ‘Final Warning’ yesterday, not linked to any specific image conflict that I’m aware of, telling me my account will be deleted.
As this seems wrong to me, I have tried to dialogue with Tumblr about the issue. Usually they don’t answer, but when they do they send a form-letter type email, saying ‘Don’t post anything you don’t own the copyright for.’
I find this disingenuous on their part. Find something cool on line, and post it to Tumblr, is what Tumblr IS. If we can only post our own original creations, Tumblr will be very small. What about the fandom blogs? The science blogs that post interesting charts and studies done by other people? The news blogs that post and link to articles from other media sources? The people who post poetry and art? All the other landscape blogs not by original artists? Will all those blogs be deleted? It seems like if this can happen to Landscape Lifescape, it can happen to anyone.
On my blog and as an editor I have tried to support and promote original photography Tumblrs, and other individuals and organizations that I think are doing meaningful work in the world. ( see my FAQ on how to get your landscape posts tagged) That appears to mean nothing to Tumblr.
I suspect I am a victim of my own success. A lot of followers means a lot of reblogging, and people often remove credits and links. A photographer may see that and assume that I have taken their work and am presenting it as my own – which I am not doing and think it reprehensible when others do so. Small blogs post what they like, however they like, but no one notices.
I am tired of being treated like a criminal, and tired of waking up in the morning wondering if the blog I have spent countless hours curating will be gone.
This is the last post from Landscape, Lifescape. Time to release what has been a joy to me for five years and move on. My sincere apologies to anyone who feels I’ve used their photos inappropriately.
Thank you to my followers, and to everyone who posts interesting and creative content on Tumblr. I will miss you!