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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Theft of Intelligence

With the recent incident of an unofficial Tarkan fan forum stealing photographs from a LiveJournal site that unwittingly leaked pictures from Tarkan's David LaChapelle photo shoot with Pamela Anderson, Mark Mayhey discusses the ramifications of such theft, and how it could influence the future works of the popular Turkish music artist.

Can the Leak of a Future Project Affect Its Release?
Analysis by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK

Will the leak of upcoming projects affect their ultimate release?

In terms of how we perceive music, its idols and the industry, I have always been a big advocate of fan communities and the rising trends that social media in our new web world has brought to us.

In fact, one of the really big stories of the decade was the launch of Wikipedia in 2001, as it represented a fundamental shift in the hierarchy of information.

The nature of news itself - and where it can be found - is changing.

Along with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, blogs and other manifestations of Web 2.0, it means that the final judgement as to what was significant is no longer left to a self-appointed elite of media professionals.

Yet, there is a big "but" to all this. With all the new information out there, we have to be more vigilant as to the source, and realise that they are not regulated by codes of conduct, but codes of conscience.

Not everybody will be clued up as to copyright issues, what can be shared, and what needs the permission of the owner to share. Many still don't realise how public and far reaching the internet is - even within forums where membership is required. Once something has been published, it can spread quickly to various other sources.

For a musician in such an environment, keeping a lid on ideas and work until it is ready for release can be more problematic than ever.

The LaChapelle Photo Shoot

When openly gay Turkish celeb journo Oben Budak had released the news on his blog that nineties US siren Pamela Anderson had gone to Los Angeles to appear in front of star photographer David LaChapelle for Tarkan's eagerly awaited 2010 album, you could almost hear the loud clutter of fingers on keyboards as every Tarkan fan across the globe got Googling to find photographic evidence of the event.

The owner of a certain Tarkan fan forum got lucky - not by trawling through official news sources or agencies, but thanks in part to the growing influence of social media sites.

The stolen pictures of the LA shootPictures of the shoot were found on the personal LiveJournal of a young US hair stylist and makeup artist, who couldn't have possibly imagined that posting up two pictures of her exciting day would become newsworthy - or come to cause so much trouble.

Twenty-three year old Tasha Parker joined friends for the LaChapelle photo shoot in LA on 21 October, where she assisted in painting tattoos on Tarkan for the part of the shoot which included a bunch of naked girls, Pamela Anderson and Tarkan as Anderson's ex-husband Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee.

"It was epic, and he was a babe," Parker wrote under her username lil-angelfuk, posting her pictures on her LiveJournal "Jerk of all Trades" and unwittingly leaking images that would be stolen by a Tarkan forum, to be watermarked with their logo and distributed by their members across the internet.

Realising her mistake, she has since made that infamous post private, and deleted the photographs with Tarkan from her Photobucket account, but the damage had been done.

The photographs she owned were digitally stolen without her permission, watermarked with someone else's logo and put around the internet for everyone to see outside of her own readership's domain.

The same thieves of Parker's private pictures also stole and watermarked the professional photographs of Kimmie Kyees - who had photographed a few behind the scenes shots of femme fatale Anderson as she prepared to shoot the album cover for Tarkan - which were published legally by UK beauty products and nail technology site Insprationail.

There is always a fine line between sharing and stealing, but this went way over that.

This wasn't an "exclusive", this was just theft, because the forum did not have permission to publish the articles. Nor did it credit any of the owners, apart from giving credit to itself.

The Theft of Intelligence

This is nothing in the league of the copyright pirates who stole Tarkan's demo English tracks and leaked them onto the internet in 2005, but it is still theft.

It doesn't take too much intelligence to realise that before we use the private or professional pictures of others, we need to ask permission first, and by no means does it take a wild leap of the imagination to know we can't watermark photographs that do not belong to us, merely to promote ourselves on the back of it.

In time, the watermark won't come to stand for a symbol of pride of being the first to release these photographs on the net; it will be a symbol of shame and idiocy - like a burglar that enters a house and writes his name and address across the walls.

It also punctures the balloon of expectation a musician hopes to blow up in the few weeks before the release of a new album, because this will become old news before any record hits the shelves next year.

Caging in Creativity

Now, official sources have contacted Tarkan Deluxe to say that Tarkan is ready to throw the results of the $300,000 shoot into the bin.

UPDATE: Photo shoot shelved (May 2010) >>

Even if somewhat over melodramatic, and unnecessary - it's not an idle threat. History shows us that in the case of Tarkan, the leaking of a future project can indeed affect its release. He's done it before. The pictures he had shot after a high speed car chase with paparazzi in 2007 were never used.

Such incidents have inevitably left Tarkan feeling cagey or disillusioned, pushing new releases to later dates as he searches for different ideas. If an artist always has to look behind his back, it limits his scope to look forward.

But if Tarkan had a stronger presence on the net or a closer link-up to his fans, it could go some way to educate those who make genuine errors in judgement.

For years Tarkan Deluxe has been a standard for Tarkan fans, with Ali Yildirim's blog manifesto educating us about piracy and internet etiquette.

There is a lot that should be for free on the internet, but that doesn't mean we should abuse the rights of ownership, or omit to credit people for their work.

Ultimately it is all about respect, respecting ownership and respecting art by giving it due value.

Otherwise we are not admirers of that work, we're simply thieves of it and its future potential.

The views in this article are those of the author alone.
Read more Mark Mayhey articles on Tarkan >>

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