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Picture this.

2007-09-27 - 10:48 a.m.

Iíve read on both Zootís and Marilynís sites about the big brouhaha going on with flickr and pics of kids. I confess Iím hazy on the details because at work a lot of sites (including Zootís and flickr) are firewalled out, and at home Iím dealing with excruciatingly slow dialup, which really cuts down on my desire to follow links. I mean, I already have to wait ages and ages for my ďregular readsĒ to load; I just donít have the patience to wait for other pages too.

So, near as I can ascertain, people are stealing photos of kids from flickr (in the sense that they are copying them and using them in a way not authorized by the people who took and posted the original pictures) and posting them on other sites, notably Orkut (the Google answer to flickr). The problem is, of course, not just that people are taking copyrighted material, itís that the material is pictures of children and, worst of all, it seems theyíre being stolen by pedophiles who then post them for other pedophilesí viewing pleasure.

Ick.

I am unclear on if the photos are being manipulated prior to the illegal posting. I am mystified as to how you find out if this has happened to any of your photos. Oh, I know people have mentioned that they were alerted by others who saw the pictures and recognized them as belonging to someone they knew. And I know others say theyíve been looking through Orkut for illegally-posted pictures and recognized those that belong to themselves or other online personalities. What I want to know is, how can someone like me Ė someone whose flickr photos are only viewed a small handful of times each Ė possibly ever know if there are stolen pictures of their kids floating around out there without devoting a lot of time to looking at pedophilic photo groups. (And donít get me started on the moral dilemma of adding to the traffic of these groups.)

My flickr account currently exclusively features my daughter, since I use that account only for showing friends and family pictures of Grommet. My dilemma, of course, is the fact that the solution most commonly employed Ė that of setting your flickr view permissions to friends and family only Ė wonít really work because most of the friends and family who have the link donít have flickr accounts and are scattered across the globe. I wonít direct them to this journal since most of them donít know it exists.

I suspect that Iíll continue to keep my flickr account the way it is for now, though Iíll keep an eye on what continues to come up with respect to this issue. I donít really feel that there is any immediate threat, as most of my pictures are viewed less than 20 times total over a span of months and months. I will take a small precaution and take all tags off the photos and I will continue to not join groups. The one or two photos that belong to groups now will be withdrawn as soon as I get a chance.

Perhaps the day will come that Iíll take down or mark private all pictures of Grommet (and any future siblings, fingers crossed!). Perhaps Iíll eventually use flickr for more of my other photography instead, the stuff that doesnít feature my child. Perhaps. But not yet. For now Iím still going to show off to my compadres what an extraordinarily beautiful child I have.

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P.S. If you're emailing me, replace the [at] with @ in the "to" line. Oh, and if you put the word "journal" in the subject line it'll have a better chance of making it past my junk mail filters.

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