Colorizer's Code of Conduct
Adding colour to an original black and white photograph is one of the earliest forms of image manipulation. For over 180 years, skilled artisans—now commonly referred to as colorizers—painstakingly applied colour to black and white pictures through a variety of techniques. Today, digital software affords us more control and realism, creating a mass movement and public demand for new interpretations of original historical works.
A responsibly colorized photograph can act as a powerful supplement to help the viewer understand an original historical document in context, stripping away the decades. Technology, however, can leave the door open to abuse. Such cases are rare, but the results are incredibly damaging. An unethical and irresponsible approach to colorization is harmful to both the public and practitioners worldwide. An ethical framework underpinning new interpretations is essential to our collective understanding of history and artistic merit.
We agree to
Respect the original work
I agree to respect the integrity of the original work. In creating my own interpretation, I will not alter or misappropriate the original work for malicious purposes, or deliberately deceive the public trust.
Pursue authenticity and honesty
I promise to never abuse technology to falsify historical narratives. I will make utmost efforts and use all the information available to me with the aim of establishing historical authenticity, context and artistic integrity, wherever possible.
Acknowledge the derivative character of my work
I agree to implicitly acknowledge my interpretation and alterations as a derivative work, whether for historical enquiry or artistic expression. My derivative work must itself be an original work of skill, labour and judgement.
Supplement, not substitute
I will make every effort to explicitly communicate that my derivative work is a supplement, and not a substitute or replacement for the original work. I will never deliberately pass off my derivative work as absolute historical fact with no reference to the original work.
I promise to acknowledge the original work alongside my interpretation, attributing the original creator and source where possible.
Seek consent & permission
I agree to abide by prevailing copyright laws, and will not deliberately engage in copyright infringement for commercial gain. I will, as far as I am able, work with copyright holders with their consent and/or permission to produce my derivative work.
Don’t be evil
I promise to never deliberately falsify or diminish the original work in any way, or create derivative work that advocates hate speech, oppression or extermination of people.
Focus on the public good
I will make every effort to uphold the integrity, responsibilities and values listed above to produce derivative work that is historically and contextually authentic to the best of my knowledge and ability, serving as legitimate historical enquiry and to add context, artistic merit and value to the original work for the public good.
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