Protecting digital ancestor images

Protecting digital ancestor images

Digitising images of ancestors, taonga and places of cultural value and then sharing the image with whanau and friends on the Internet is common, as it is quick and easy to share with multiple people with just a few clicks of a button. Regularly I see ancestor images at marae being photographed on someones smart phone, likely to be shared on the Internet. 

Today most photographs are taken for their use in social media. Deloitte Global predicted that in 2016, 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online, a 15 percent increase on the prior year. About 3/4’s of this total will likely be shares, and the remainder online backups.

Figures quoted online in 2017 vary but it is suggested around 350 million photos are shared per day on Facebook, 55 million on Instagram, 400 million on WhatsApp and 450 million on Snapchat.  

Those people that the image has been shared with can and are likely to then share the image with their networks and eventually the image ends up on the Internet for anyone to use, regardless of your original intention to share with only whanau.

With social media such as Facebook is almost second nature to Like a photo and push the share button. Within seconds an image can be globally shared.

Inappropriate usage of tipuna and ta Moko images is far too common. Anonymous people from all around the world can quickly find an image on the web, copy and manipulate the image and then share it to unlimited other strangers. In 2015 Kapa haka images from Te Matatini were modified and turned into internet memes and shared on a international web site attracting millions of views.

A suggestion to prevent some misappropriate usage and commercial usage of whanau and iwi sensitive photos and images is to simply add a message to the bottom of the image asking people treat the image with respect (more below). While this will not stop everyone, it is certainly a determent and does signal to those who don’t understand that there is an issue. 

Examples of an image to overlap at the bottom of your image, or as a watermark could include:

  1. Please treat this image with respect
  2. Please treat this image with respect
    Iwi name
  3. Reproduced with permission from Whanau NAME and or Iwi 

A downloadable image is below that can be inserted over an image prior to sharing online.

Please Treat WIth Respect

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