Monday, February 23, 2009

Visual Plagiarism: The Strange Case of Rosie Hardy


Last week on Flickr the floodgates opened when one of its most popular photographeress' Rosie Hardy was accused of plagiarism in a number of her photos. A person, know only as "Harry", brought it to light, posting RH's pictures on his/her own stream next to the DeviantArt and Flickr photographs that she was accused of plagarising (his Flickr account has been removed three times, but he's continuing on his blog)..he also mass posted comments in other peoples photostreams to make them aware of Rosie's crime....

What ensued was the opening of a gigantic can o' worms. Rosie mostly ignored "Harry", deleting his comments, "Harry" became more determined and rallied his troupes, discussion threads were started both on Flickr Central and the very popular Female Self-Portrait Artists' Support Group (entrance only to members) and soon contained hundreds and hundreds of postings veering from disappointment at Ms Hardy and calls for an apology, to sane discussion as to what merits visual plagiarism, to more stalker-type aggressive behavious towards the artist in question. And in return accusations of "natzism" and "bullying" hurled back by RH's supporters. The leading ladies of the FSPASG have produced (and I would like to add here rather fantastic) photographs in support of "Harry" with "I Love Harry" written across their naked chests (see Quizz... , :anna: kezzaroo ). Hardygate was born and things got kind of crazy. RH publically apologised with a suicidal type photograph and is now "taking a break" from Flickr.

Now, rather than sit on either side of the fence I put my anthropologist hat on, take a step back and look at it through my specs and say "that's interesting, I wonder why they are behaving like that" (I know, I'm so annoying). On a personal note I've been following Ms Hardy's stream for a while, and after seeing the similarities between some of the photos I have to say I am a bit disappointed, it would have been respectful to credit. I find this Harry person kind of strange, he seems to hold a personal vendetta here, and some of the posters in the forums clearly like to shout a lot (quite easily spurred on by Rosie's rather nauseating online relationship with Aaron). But what most interests me is the ferocity around this topic, akin to some kind of hysterical smear campaign that goes on and on and on....What is evident is that RH has become a bit of a scapegoat for something that has been bubbling around Flickr for a while...fear of having personal creativity or 'ideas' stolen. When does inspiration become plagiarism, where is the line drawn? And can it be drawn in cyberspace, a place that spans countries and cultures? For instance it is a misconception that plagiarism is a universal understanding. In many cultures it is regarded as a form of flattery and even encouraged. And are we now post-originality? Anyone who has any background in literary theory or postmodernism will understand the phrases 'everything is a tissue of quotations' and 'nothing is original'....In the age of the Internet is it possible to control plagiarism, is it time to move away from owning ideas to who can express it better? I'm mean...I saw a clone picture once, then I made one myself. I just searched clowns on Flickr and found some akin to my clown picture (you know people in make up and wigs).....shit!!! Am I in trouble???? Sure, I see in the case of RH there are obvious heavy influences that should have been credited, but some of the comparisons people have found are simply clutching at straws, like the paparazzi looking for anything to bring her down. Look hard enough and you will find something you could claim to be 'too' similar.

She's 18 years old, about to embark on A'level exams with hundreds of people calling for her withdrawal from a major part of her life, if I was her I'd be rock bottom, and her apologetic posting on flickr shows just that. Is it all a hoax....is it all a publicity stunt (Harry IS Aaron???) as some of her adversaries are claiming. I can't say for sure but I doubt it. It's just a kid who got it wrong in a very public way, but what do you expect if you make yourself a Flickr celebrity when plagiarism amongst artists is still seen as the ultimate crime...you are going to be sussed eventually. What has it achieved at the micro-level, they taught a young girl a hard lesson, made her cry, at a macro-level, it raises some pretty big questions.

So Harry....do I love you? In a sick way I love the chaos you have caused....am I about to take my top off for you.....no way honey.

---Disclaimer---
I would like to credit absolutely everybody in and not in my life for every photo I have ever taken...

15 comments:

alexocon said...

I must admit this is all new to me, but the last post of the link you give to Harry's blog was that it was all a marketing strategy to create more buzz around Rosie, a link to her prints and that Rosie is fine and will be back soon! Is that some kind of ironic double-bluff!?!

kT LindSAy said...

Yes, noted! But the word in the forums is that its another ploy by "Harry" to take Rosie down after she failed to remove/credit many of the said plagiarised photos....or of course it could be a massive marketing ply by the pair - is Harry in fact Aaron her boyf? If it is it's either genius or very stupid. The issues of plagiarism that it brought about still stand though.

kT LindSAy said...

Ooo, the plot thickens...."Harry" has now removed his post saying it was all a hoax....WTF!! My brain hurts, it's all a social experiment I tell you!!!

alexocon said...

Indeed, I'm struggling to keep up myself!

Academic, Hopeful said...

This is indeed quite a scandal. Nice detective work and analysis, KT. x

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I had never heard of any of these people and I've been on Flickr for years. I guess I'm just not a fan of overly photoshopped teenage narcissism. Call me silly but I'm there more for photography ha. I just read about it while browsing in flickr central and thought I'd google her. Your post was in the first page of results. From what I've read you seem to have about the most rational viewpoint. As for me, I think her 15 minutes of fame is coming to a rapid ending.

NAVIS said...

I used to talk to RH on myspace over a year ago. Her photography is meh. If she was just a below average/mediocre looking chick, her photography wouldn't be nearly as popular. All of this (which I discovered 10 minutes ago) kind of reminds me of the whole Lonely Girl videos on Youtube.

And you're right... that Aaron love story is uber nauseating.

"I guess I'm just not a fan of overly photoshopped teenage narcissism..."

Well said.

You Tuber said...

I was sure that Rosie Hardy had a team of helpers and that she could not take her pictures by herself.

take a look at this video :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy-JzRdS4QM

GeorgeMac said...

another blog about the Rosie Hardy plagiarism case if you are interested :

http://rosiehardyplagiarism.blogspot.com/

pcgn7 said...

for once a very reasonable analysis.
She was impetuous and she did borrow a few ideas without proper acknowledgement but she doesn't deserve the treatment she's received.

coconutrose72 said...

well, then there's a girl that stole A TON of RH's ideas so does that make it double plagarism? anyway why arent people creative and original oh wait cuz they're arent that many people like that left anyway thanks for this

btgMIA said...

she is so good at such a young age.cause of tht,there's alot of pple tht want her to fail/bring her down!as humans we r more interested/excited about someone failing/cheating/falling from the top!to me this hole thing with rosie hardy is jealousy an bitterness,either because some artists r mad tht she was getting all the attention basically cause she took the right photo and got noticed for it at the right time!(maroon 5 cd cover)NOW,AS FAR AS PLAGARISM? LOOK AT PHOTOS,PAINTINGS,BOOKS,MUSIC, IF U WNT TO GET NIT PICKY,R ALL THE ARTISTS GUILTY OF PLAGARISM? lets see,there is plenty of music out there w/the same riffs,harmony but done just slightly different.there r plenty of books tht have the same plot/storyline,all the author's do is change a few words and it went from a romantic novel to a mystery novel.so if I paint or take a pic of a guy with no arms sitting in a bathtub does tht mean no one else can ever paint or take a pic of a no armed guy in the bathtub?to me,plagerism is when u take someone elses art whether its music,photo,painting or books and do the exact same thing! if thts not plagerism than there r a lot an I mean a lot of writers,musicians,painters an photographers that have some explaining to do!!SO HATERS, WORRY ABOUT URSELVES AN STOP MAKING URSELF HAPPY BECAUSE UR UNHAPPY WITH UR LIFE!

Fernanda said...

Hello,
I would like to ask you please to delete your post about Rosie Hardy Plagiarism.
Its the rigth and good thing to do.
It was a very mean and ugly thing and it harms Rosie Hardy reputation.
Thank you very much

Clean said...

Hello,
I would like to ask you to please remove or delete your post about Rosie Hardy.
It is not good. It maybe harming her making her suffer and doing harm to her life and career.
I thank you very much for your help and kindness.

Rick Mynatt said...

I'm a photographer myself and if you look long and hard enough you will find that every photographer in the world has very similar if not photos that could be called exactly like someone else's photos throughout history simply because there are only so many ideas and ways that you can photograph something like the human form. That being said, how many different photos do you think there are of for example Stonehenge, or Half Dome in Yosemite National Park that look identical to someone else's photos? I guarantee I can find at least 5 of each one by different photographers! Is it plagiarism, no, it's just simply someone having the same idea and being in the same area as another photographer taking a picture, that's all!! So before people call a photo plagiarized they should seriously think about how many different photographers there are in the world, and how many will have the same ideas.