In January I received an e-mail from Tumblr about my blog PussyLeQueer. I was told that I had received several DMCA* notices & that, if Tumblr received another, my account would be deleted. I wasn’t sure which account was at risk because PussyLeQueer wasn’t a separate blog, but another blog on my Bohemea account. I responded and asked if Bohemea, or SuicideBlonde, who also contributed to PLQ, were at risk and was told that no, the message was only in regards to PLQ. I attempted to gather more information about keeping my blog compliant so I could avoid future notices and was told vaguely to keep my blog as compliant as possible. I also asked if the warning was in regards to all posts, or only future posts, and was told that any future DMCA notice about a PLQ post would result in deletion, no matter what post it concerned.
At the time I had received notice of Tumblr receiving 4 DMCA notices, all to posts made on PussyLeQueer, over the course of 2 years. I have never received one for Bohemea. All the notices were about posts I made after finding them on another site, all were from a photographer. I think I could have contested a couple of them, but what happens when I receive any notice from any person involved in a photo that they don’t want the posted, is I delete it, without contest. For example, a couple of models have messaged me in the past and asked me to remove a photo of them. Technically they did not own the copyright to the photos, but I always took the photos off my blog. Of course, because the way Tumblr operates with the reblog function, I had no way to completely remove the photos from Tumblr. The only way a photo can be removed completely is by a Tumblr staff member. I actually think DMCA notices are good for copyright holders in regards to Tumblr. I couldn’t remove a photo completely; Tumblr could, and I don’t know that Tumblr would remove an image without an official request. Whenever I did receive a DMCA, I kept it and never posted another image by that photographer.
With the threat of deletion, I re-thought the way I used the PussyLeQueer blog. At the beginning, PLQ’s style was mostly similar to what I posted on Bohemea, just with full frontal. As it evolved, I saw it becoming more a place to showcase photographers, models and artists who wanted to gather a following. I wanted to promote these talented artists, so I revamped. I deleted most original posts from PussyLeQueer so it was mostly an archived reblog Tumblr and started PussyLesQueer. PLesQ became less a place to post photos of well known nude models by well known photographers in well known publications and more a place to promote artist-submitted photos.
I believe one of my talents as a blogger is presenting an image well, and choosing the best image from a set to share. Photographers, models & artists began emailing me selections and I would choose my favourites and share them. Credit was always included, and PlesQ became a very fun project. I’ve become friends with a wonderful mix of talents and been introduced to lovely new artists. PlesQ does still include photos from outside sources that were not directly submitted, but they always include credit to the site where I found the image. PlesQ is also a beautiful reblog Tumblr where I reblog images from fellow nude/porn Tumblr users, as well as artists who post regularly on their Tumblr and prefer to be reblogged.
I felt that creating PlesQ would avoid most of the risk of deletion. I was concerned PussyLeQueer might be deleted in the future, but the time I spent making both Tumblrs as compliant as possible made me feel safe. I didn’t think Bohemea was at risk, but Bohemea was also as compliant as possible. All photos that I found online included a credit back to the site where the photos were discovered. Photos that have lived on my hard drive for many years or were my own work were the only images that weren’t sourced. It is true that for a time I was not good about citing all my sources, but I always included credit with every image. My whole reason for sharing images online is so people can become fans of what I’m sharing. Models, photographers, publications, dates, titles: as much as I knew about an image was included with it when I posted it, and if an image was posted directly from a photographer’s site, or a publication’s site, it was sourced. If I found it on a forum or another blog, I didn’t source regularly until this year.
Here’s the thing though: that doesn’t matter.
On June 14th I received two e-mails. One stating that Tumblr had received a DMCA notice in regards to a post made on Bohemea, the second, sent 5 minutes later, telling me that my Tumblr had been deleted for repeat violations. I’m assuming, because I don’t know for sure, that because PussyLeQueer was a blog on my Bohemea account, that those violations actually did count against the whole account, and that the DMCA received on the 14th was considered a repeat violation, even though it was Bohemea’s first violation. There is also a chance that Bohemea had received prior violations that I had not received notice of. When I tried to gather information about the issue with PussyLeQueer, I sent Tumblr a list of the 4 violations PLQ had received and asked if there had been more that I didn’t know about, but received no response.
These are the images I posted on Bohemea that resulted in the deletion of my Tumblr: http://lookbooks.com/marketplace/streeters/news/vogue-spain-may-2013
I sourced the site. I sourced that exact link. If you follow it, you’ll see that there is a “Share on Tumblr” button directly on the page. It doesn’t matter though. The DMCA notice that Tumblr received was from Vogue Spain, the copyright holder of the images, who had every right to request that Tumblr stop hosting the images. It doesn’t matter that I used the source link correctly. It doesn’t matter that the site I sourced has a “Share on Tumblr” button. It doesn’t matter that the images still exist on another site. Tumblr was told that they were in violation, Tumblr had to react, and I paid for it because technically I had no right to share the images.
The only right you have to your images are as a copyright holder, or under fair use. DMCA notices can be contested, but the process is incredibly invasive and detailed. I would have to provide all my personal information just to prove that I had a right to share images that I don’t even want to share if the copyright holder doesn’t want them shared.
So this is my quandary. 99% of my Tumblr experience has been people thanking me for promoting their work, or fans thanking me for sharing/identifying/detailing images that they hadn’t seen/knew nothing about. I am positive that I have sold multiple copies of magazines, movie tickets, DVDs, books, clothing, etc, and I have never made money from my blog, not even via ads. All I wanted to do was share beautiful images and create fans of the media I love.
This doesn’t make me exempt from copyright laws though. Just because I didn’t mean to upset Vogue Spain, or the handful of photographers I have in the past, doesn’t give me the legal right to share the images they own. It does, however, make it shitty that I was deleted because, as it has been noted many times since this happened, I was an excellent provider of photo credit and I sourced most images and most of the people whose art I shared either didn’t mind, or were grateful that I brought attention to their work.
I don’t blame Tumblr for deleting me. I didn’t pay for my space on their site; it didn’t belong to me. It hurts a lot though. Bohemea wasn’t just other people’s work, it was information, it was research, it was reactions, it contained my words, and some of my own original images, and now it’s gone. Five years of chronicling the art I consumed and the way I reacted to the art has disappeared. I feel as if my journals, pasted with inspiring images and poetic little vignettes has been taken away, and I literally have no one to blame. I was doing what many Tumblr users do, joyfully and with no ill-intent, Tumblr had every right to delete me, and copyright holders have every right to protest the un-consented sharing of their images.
I don’t know what advice to give to other users who share images they didn’t create or didn’t receive written consent to share, which are the only two sure-fire ways to comply with Tumblr’s rules. I was told that reblogs do not count against you, so you can reblog whatever you like, even if you know it’s an image that shouldn’t be shared, and you won’t risk deletion. Including an outside source seems to be something that people think keeps them safe, but it doesn’t. Just because you posted an image and linked to where you found it doesn’t mean the copyright owner can’t contest you sharing it.
I imagine not being popular helps, but who doesn’t want to be popular? I fucking loved being a popular Tumblr user. I had over 100,000 followers. I had thousands of people a day looking at photos I wanted to share and reading my words. I was a celebs and portrait tag editor. I was interviewed! I was in a magazine! A famous artist created a beautiful banner for my blog! Famous people followed me and reblogged from me! It was intoxicating. It was also a huge contributing factor to my deletion. If I wasn’t popular, when I shared images, they wouldn’t be widely circulated and the copyright holder wouldn’t have found them.
People have asked if I’ve asked Tumblr to reinstate my blog. I did respond initially because I thought it was a mistake, that only PussyLeQueer should have been deleted. I asked if they would un-delete Bohemea and received no reply. Many users messaged Tumblr in protest (which is so sweet and wonderful), and nothing has resulted. I don’t believe they will reverse their decision. In the e-mail stating that Bohemea was deleted, I was told that future blogs would be deleted as well. I have no idea what this means. Future blogs created with the email address I used to create Bohemea? Future blogs similar to Bohemea? Any future blog belonging to me? I already have another blog, is that one at risk? I have no idea, and I don’t think asking would result in a definitive response. This sudden deletion is something that is happening to other users as well. One told me that it has happened to them after receiving only one DMCA, and another said that their Tumblr was deleted with no notice or reason.
I do know that I loved Tumblr. I was a very early user, and very loyal. I brought users to the site, I promoted it, and I was happy to be a part of its community. I felt rewarded for my loyalty by being made an editor of two tags; both responsibilities were given without my asking, and at different times. I felt safe, I suppose, at least I felt like Bohemea was safe, because as silly as it sounds, I felt like a part of Tumblr.
Now that I cannot be a part of the Tumblr community, I must remind myself that, while I’ll miss its users, I am not the site that hosts my images. My words, my tastes, my interests are mine, and now I have to find another place to share them. I’m not going to return to Tumblr as Bohemea, partially because I can’t, but also because I don’t feel welcome. I’ll keep Pussy les Queer running until I find another site to host, and I’ve created a reblog Tumblr so I can keep in touch with my Tumblr user friends & still reblog the inspiring images they share. All my original posts can be found on the links provided below. I hope those of you who followed me on Tumblr will follow me on other sites as well. I’m still Bohemea, just inhabiting another corner of the internet.
Here are all the places you can find me:
WordPress: LesBohemea (This is where I’m going to try to be Bohemea again. It will be similar to my Tumblr.)
Flickr: Bohemea & Suicide Blonde
Tumblr: Pussy les Queer
Reblog Tumblr: LesBowie
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org are still active as well)
*A DMCA notice is an official note stating that a post made on a site is in violation of the copyright holder’s property. Since Tumblr hosts all the images posted on it, copyright holders must contact Tumblr to have their work permanently removed. When Tumblr receives a DMCA notice, they remove the content, then send a copy of the notice to the user who posted the copyrighted work that contains the name of the copyright holder and a link to the post that was removed (even though that doesn’t really matter because the link no longer works). In the notice, you are told that you can contest the violation if you feel it is in error and are also warned that repeat violations can result in deletion of your account.