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Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Dave!After a random look at my blog stats, I saw traffic coming from a website I'd never heard of before. So I clicked through to see what was going on and found this...

NOM lifts pro-gay blogger's personal travel photo

I'm already I'm filled with dread, and I haven't even read the story yet.

And, sure enough, it was my photo they were talking about. The "National Organization for Marriage," which I can only describe as the preeminent anti-marriage-equality hate-group, is using a photo I took as a part of their anti-gay propaganda campaign...

NOM Hate Propeganda

Having something you created being used to peddle bigotry and discrimination is not an easy thing to accept. Especially when it contributes to creating an environment so hostile that LGBT youth are killing themselves rather than having to endure it.

Groups like NOM go against absolutely everything I believe in. But having them drag me into their persecution of the LGBT community is only half the problem. The other is my belief in a free and open internet. Which is why my Creative Commons License (appearing on every page of this site) allows non-commercial usage of the stuff I share here. Granted, NOM violated this license by failing to attribute the photo to it's source in a way that shows I don't endorse their bullshit... but otherwise? Their non-profit status (which is another topic entirely) means that their use of my photo is most likely permissible.

And it's this dilemma that has me frustrated to to tears. How do I reconcile my belief in sharing information on a free internet with my desire to keep my works from being used to hurt people by hateful bigots like NOM??

I thought I might find help in the "moral rights" clause of the license...

"In addition to the right of licensors to request removal of their name from the work when used in a derivative or collective they don't like, copyright laws in most jurisdictions around the world (with the notable exception of the US except in very limited circumstances) grant creators "moral rights" which may provide some redress if a derivative work represents a "derogatory treatment" of the licensor's work."

Except they make it clear that the USA is a "notable exception," which means this is practically worthless.

So what to do? Two things I feel very strongly about seem to cancel each other out. Have an open license, and your works can be repurposed to hurt people. Have a restrictive license, and you're inhibiting the creativity of others to build and share on your work.

I don't know what the solution is. Maybe you can't have it both ways.

All I do know is that I don't support NOM's ruthless persecution of a group of people under the pretense of "protecting marriage." And, make no mistake, it is persecution. They don't like gay people, so they fight to keep them from having the same freedoms as everybody else. And if spreading misinformation and outright lies is what it takes, they'll do that. If allying themselves with individuals or organizations which advocate violence against homosexuals will forward their cause, they'll do that too. Whatever it takes to keep homophobia and fear alive so they can maintain this absurd illusion that marriage is somehow "endangered" by a mythical "gay agenda" that's out to destroy society.

This situation shouldn't be upsetting me as much as it is. It's the internet, after all.

But gay kids are being bullied. Gay kids are killing themselves. And it's groups like NOM that are creating a society which encourages these horrible things to happen.

And being party to that... even unwillingly... is more than I can take.

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Categories: Blogging 2013Click To It: Permalink


  1. Couldn’t you just change the picture to one “more appropriate”? The outbound link would remain the same wouldn’t it? Heck, they might not even notice for a while if their browser doesn’t update.

    Dude…you should give it a go.

    • Dave2 says:

      The photo on their site has already been changed. This photo is on Facebook, which means it was imported into the system. Changing the linked photo wouldn’t change anything, unfortunately.

  2. I’d do everything in my power to make their pathetic content-stealing lives a living hell. I’m sure you have ideas…

    • Dave2 says:

      Except there’s probably nothing I can do, because they didn’t really “steal” anything. My content license allows sharing for non-commercial use, and they’re a non-profit organization. The only thing they did wrong was not give Blogography credit for use. Half of me thinks this might be a good thing, because I’m upset enough over my photo being repurposed for their “cause” without having my name on it as well.

      In any event, I can’t seem to escape the feeling of dread that’s dropped on me over this whole thing. And it’s just the beginning, I’m sure.

  3. Kyra Wilson says:

    Honestly, posting this, and maybe a letter (comment on the FB photo?) to them asking them not to use your work because you disagree with them, maybe someone there would be human enough to change it? I know, I live in fantasy land, but it’s something.

    So sorry Dave.

    • Dave2 says:

      There is no way to edit a post on Facebook, that I know of. They would have to delete the post in order to remove my photo, so I’m sure they won’t go that route.

  4. Donna says:

    This makes my heart hurt.

    • Dave2 says:

      Mine too. This came along at just the wrong moment, while I was already being overwhelmed with other crap going on. I guess it’s always something.

  5. Sarah says:

    This sucks. I’m sorry that they took your image to spew their hate-filled crap.

    I wish stuff like this didn’t happen.

  6. Ren says:

    It sucks, but it seems akin to “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    Freedom isn’t always comfortable.

  7. Living well is the best revenge. You’ve explained the abuse. The rest of it is bigger than each of us. All we can do is contribute to the solution.

  8. Dawn says:

    So sorry they chose to use your photo of something so beautiful to promote something that isn’t.

  9. How frustrating. If only we could set fire to parts of the internet.

  10. claire says:

    Argh! That really sucks.

    The problem with Creative Commons is that it doesn’t currently give any real legal standing that I’ve heard of. You also can’t revoke it.

    The only real protection is copyright but you won’t get far without registering your work, ideally before you’ve published it. The laws aren’t current enough to specify if the web is technically “publishing.”

    You can register works after they’ve been published (pricier as you’ll likely have to register them individually or by post), but as you said, your CC license gives them the right to use your image.

    I’m torn. I’d want proper credit, but you don’t need a bunch of hate speech taking over your comments.

  11. martymankins says:

    NOM needs to stop calling it “protecting marriage” and call it “protecting division” or “protecting bigotry”

    There’s nothing positive they are protecting, IMO.

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