Attribution, Copyright, and Collars


The photo above is hosted on Flickr, and its copyright protection is “all rights reserved.”  That means if someone wants to use that photo, they need written permission from me.  Unfortunately, another blogger who is notorious for accusing others of plagiarism has taken this photo, and used it for his own purposes without permission, without a link, and without attribution.  To post without attribution is to give the impression that the photograph is one’s own work.

If the photo had been listed as “some rights reserved” under a Creative Commons license, attribution and a link would still be required.

For example, Trey Ratcliff at is an amazing photographer who publicly shares a colorful and stunning photograph every day.  His photographs are all licensed under Creative Commons: attribution, non-commercial, share-alike.  That means anyone on the internet is free to share his photos, as long as no money changes hands, and they clearly attribute Trey as the photographer.

How does one properly attribute a Creative Commons photograph?  Well, one way to not properly attribute a photograph is by showing a bunch of pictures, and then listing all the photographers at the end.  I’ve seen that done on popular Lutheran YouTube videos.  That practice is confusing at best, and it robs the photographers of the credit for their own photographs.  Recently, the popular site, Mashable, did just that to one of Trey Ratcliff’s photos.  Trey has over one million followers on Google+, and he responded:

Mashable, this is just indolent and lame.  Photographers like me are out there spending thousands and thousands of dollars to provide free eye-candy to blogs through Creative Commons Noncommercial.  In the article, there are two photos above and then four attributions at the bottom, which is confusing and lazy.  Look below this photo to see the proper way.  Get with it guys…

NASAstormThe proper way to do attribution at a bare minimum, Mashable (and all you other lazy bloggers), is to do this:  “Photo by Trey Ratcliff from [linked]”.  Simple.

Now, as for this photo in particular, in case you were a’wonderin’, this is a giant storm hitting the NASA vehicle assembly building.  To give you a sense of scale, inside that building they built the entire Saturn V rocket that went to the moon…

Stop with the shitty photo attribution, Mashable.
by Trey Ratcliff on Google+,
(Emphasis in the original).

When a photographer is kind enough to let others use their photographs for free, the least other bloggers can do is provide a link back to that photographers’ web site, and attribute their name with their photograph.  That is proper attribution, and it helps others find the photographer.

However, my photo of Pastors Rydeki and Spencer at the top of this post is not free to use because it is an “all rights reserved” photo.  Nonetheless, I might look the other way if there was at least proper attribution with a link.  Is that too much to ask?  A proper link would send someone back here to Light from Light or to my Flickr account.

If they linked to my Flickr account, readers could see a fascinating comment by WELS Pastor Joel Lillo saying: “Intrepid Catholics?”  In his comment, WELS Pastor Lillo seems to be judging other WELS pastors’ theology based on their clothing.

Gottesdienst recently published an interesting article entitled: “The Man in Black” where fellow Lutherans discuss the virtue of the clerical collar in attracting attention and questions from others.  The question they then posed was:

So why don’t “missional” folks go for a clergy uniform?  Wouldn’t it make them more accessible?  Make witnessing easier?

Ah, but you forget that our target audiences are so different.  I think it is important to dress my vocation so that those people who want a pastor can spot me if they need me.  I dress as I do for the sake of the elect.  I need to be visible to them because I am owned by them, I am their servant for Christ’s sake.  The missional/functional Arminian type is out to find the “unchurched.”  They want to talk to unbelievers, to the kind of folks who don’t want to talk to a clergyman.  So of course they can’t dress like a clergyman.

Gottesdienst, “The Man in Black.”

(See also: “The Collar and the Church” by Pastor Esget).

What other ways do we dress to show our vocations?  A photographer often has a camera and tripod, but that’s not clothing.  All judges wear black robes (just like many WELS pastors).  Judges in Wisconsin are required to wear the black robe.  Lawyers wear suits and ties.  There is at least one courtroom in Wisconsin where if a lawyer does not wear a tie, they have a clown tie ready for him to wear.  I always wear a tie, so thankfully I’ve never had that experience.  Also, people know I’m a lawyer at the courthouse because of the way I’m dressed, and they often come up to me to ask questions.  I’m sure doctors at the hospital have the same experience.  When they are out doing their jobs, why wouldn’t pastors want the world to know that they are pastors merely by their dress?

2 thoughts on “Attribution, Copyright, and Collars

  1. You said, “When they are out doing their jobs, why wouldn’t pastors want the world to know that they are pastors merely by their dress?”

    My answer is that people often act differently around those who are “dressed as” pastors. They won’t let their guard down or talk honestly with you. This is especially true when talking to strangers, but I find that’s true with members as well. If I “dressed like” a pastor/priest, I might not get the chance to discuss Jesus nearly as often as I do now.

    Some pastors say that wearing the clerical collar makes it easier for them to visit someone in the hospital. The staff doesn’t question your presence in the hospital or a patient’s room if you have the garb on. I have never had that problem. If anyone asks, “Who are you?” I say, “I’m their pastor.” That’s always been enough.

    By the way, I’ve never quite understood why some in our circles criticize Lutheran pastors who look “too much” like Evangelicals, but their not supposed to be criticized if their garb looks very much like the outfit that most people associate with either the Roman Catholic Church or the Episcopal church.

    Yes, I stand by my snarky comment!

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