Myarchives.net Is DeadMarch 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 29 Comments
Tags: Gloria Dawn, My Archives, Shannon Moeser
The My Archives Vintage Porn internet site has vanished. In mid-October 2012, its picture gallery disappeared but regular members continued to visit by linking directly to discussion forums. These forums, and other components such as the chatbox and private message system, remained intact. At first we were told the gallery was backed up and would return online after a programmer updated the operating system. But as time progressed, the gallery remained inaccessible and other structures stopped working. When only the chatbox and discussion forums still functioned, I frantically started copying posts from my 36-page discussion thread. Among the more than 800 posts to this thread were several thoughtful exchanges that I didn’t want to lose. Another member told me how to quickly back up the entire thread; three days later, the website crashed.
My Archives lasted less than eight years.
How long should internet material endure? Should it last as long as print material? Will digital forms of communication replace printed matter?
A while ago, I decided to re-read a Ruth Rendell book of short stories that I first read in 1982. It was not in my local library system, so I tried Amazon. An anthology, consisting of her four published books of short stories, was issued in 1987 with several reprints. Amazon’s third-party dealers were selling used copies. For $6.50 (which included postage), I purchased a 1991 edition of Rendell’s Collected Short Stories in excellent condition, pages just slightly tinged yellow. With careful handling, it will last another 30 years. Ruth Rendell is now 83 years old but her writing will last long after her death.
I wonder if Tony T thought his comments would last at least a few years after he died. Tony T was the moral centre of the My Archives discussion forums. Many visitors to the website ignored the discussion forums; they only were interested in looking at “dirty” pictures. But a loyal group took part in the forum exchanges, where members analyzed and debated various aspects of the porn industry and model anatomy. Whenever a discussion became contentious – and several did – Tony T would weigh in with a balanced comment. Even when there was no controversy, Tony often posted comments that encouraged reflection on a topic. He joined the community in 2005 when the site contained only photos taken prior to 1980. About a month before the gallery disappeared, Tony wrote his final post, stating that his cancer treatment had not succeeded and he was moving to a hospice. We don’t know if Tony has died, or whether his family tried to notify us only to find that they couldn’t enter the site using its entrance link. Before My Archives vanished, one member was copying what he considered the most important discussion forums. I don’t know how to access these copies. All I have to remember Tony are a few private messages and his comments on my discussion thread.
Photos posted to My Archives were submitted by members – mostly scans of pictures found in vintage porn magazines. Images from books that had lasted 40 to 60 years, as well as some 90-year-old postcards. Print material endures!
Volunteers vetted the posts and ensured they were placed in correct folders. The domain name was owned by “Tiger.” He paid for the server space – a major expense given the huge number of posts each day, especially after the cut-off date was changed to 1989 in 2006 and to 1999 three years later. The few advertisements, all for pay-for-view porn sites, were supposed to cover expenses. They probably didn’t cover these costs, particularly when a major overhaul of the operating system was needed.
One reason expenses overran revenues was internet thievery. Images posted on My Archives could be copied and pasted to another site. I didn’t realize this at first, and by the time I discovered it, my pictures were published on numerous tumblr sites. Tumblr is a network for sharing internet photos. A visitor would capture an image from My Archives and post it on his/her tumblr site; others would “reblog” the original post until it circulated around the network. My modelling name was usually included with the image (that’s how I acquired more fans); however My Archives was never identified as the original source, so it never received “value” from this circulation of its images.
Had I known my photos were going to be passed around the internet, I never would have put the private ones on My Archives. These were pictures I owned that were not scanned from magazines. Initially I hoped to sell some of these private shots as autographed pictures, but now anyone can copy them without my permission.
Within its own realm, tumblr is relatively innocuous. Unfortunately, these images are captured by other internet users who place them on commercial websites. I’ve found my photos on sites selling hair products and espousing political views I don’t agree with.
Other porn sites also contained photos copied from My Archives. For example, one member found a photo of me on Vintage Stockings. Although this image had originally appeared in a magazine and conceivably could have been scanned directly from that magazine, I knew that this one was captured from my post on My Archives; unique changes I had made to the magazine image were present also in the Vintage Stockings version. Management at Vintage Stockings relies on posts by its members and members can “pass off” images taken from other websites as their own scans.
Similarly, some My Archives members posted images from other internet sources on My Archives. The photo below was posted in the “Gloria Dawn” folder of the gallery by a member who did not know where he initially obtained it. Since then, I have been trying to locate the original source. I know it is a Ron Vogel shot and it looks like it appeared in a magazine – but not in any magazine I own. (If anyone knows its original source, please let me know.)
When it comes to stealing images, the worst perpetrators are eBay sellers. About two years ago, other My Archives members informed me that eBay dealers were selling prints of photos I first posted on My Archives. Because these photos contained my image, I was able to have the auctions stopped. However, eBay will not halt auctions unless I find the offending photos and fill out a complicated form. Finding the stolen images among the thousands published on eBay each day is the problem, and I must rely on friends to inform me about them. In one year, I had photos removed from those listed by slipboy, fleamarketkings, your-usa-seller, ultrararefinds, arieteii and massrappc. I started writing my name and “My Archives” on each new image I posted. This didn’t stop the thieves. Below, on top, is a private photo I just had removed from a listing by t50fox. Beneath it is the original I posted. You can see that t50fox simply cropped the image to remove its source (and then had to compensate by cutting off the top and bottom portions of the photo to fit it onto 8 x 10 photo paper).
I sent a message to t50 fox asking:
Did you copy this image off an internet post?
I don’t recall the original source of the photo. As a hobby, I have collected photos from many sources (scans, originals, downloads, etc.) for many years.
My photos are of little consequence to eBay thieves because I was a 1960s model, just one of the horde of unknown 60s vintage models (unknown at least until I joined My Archives). For every print of my image they attempt to sell, they list 30 different photos of Bettie Page and 10 of Joyce Gibson. Many of these images were initially published on My Archives. In their eBay listings, print sellers use words to suggest that they are selling prints of original photos they posses; to mislead buyers, they use phrases like “reprinted from my personal collection,” “60s vintage print,” or “original print.” What they really sell are copies of images downloaded from the internet.
People who originally posted these images cannot get the auctions stopped because eBay has no mechanism to allow for removal of pictures stolen from other internet sites. (I can get my personal images removed because the sellers do not have my permission to advertise and sell pictures of me.) As one former My Archives member wrote to me:
I can recognize my work most of the time and most of these jerks refer to their items as part of “their private collections.” I knew my Bettie photos would show up elsewhere but I still get cranky when I see my stuff pop up unattributed. When a dirty little scumbag appropriates a Bettie that I paid $200 for and then spent a gazillion hours reconstituting and refining, I can’t stifle my rage. EBay won’t answer my complaints and it doesn’t give you a proper way to report thieves.
EBay makes money from these thieves, but given the millions of legitimate auctions that take place each day, I wonder whey they facilitate felonious behaviour to earn a few thousand dollars a year.
The internet is still evolving and many who initially flocked to publish material have discovered that ideas and images are easily stolen. Many sites will disappear during the next few years; their stories and pictures will vanish. Newspapers have already found that it was not a good idea to provide information free of charge. Porn sites that once offered free access are now charging their customers. At present, I post my images on www.gloriadawn.wordpress at a low dpi and small size so clear prints cannot be produced from them. They still can be shared by tumblr members using small-sized viewing devices, but if the effort and cost of maintaining my website becomes too onerous, and no one wants to purchase autographed photos, this site too will come down.
In an email to me, Tony T wrote:
Like you my main interest lies in the true vintage and retro periods, although I also like the early days of photography, the 1860s onwards – I think the ladies of the 1900s/1920s like the Ziegfeld beauties are something else.
My own feelings about the site have been gradually changing since they allowed firstly the 80s some years back when I voiced an opinion that it was the thin end of the wedge, then the 90s. This latter has resulted in a takeover of modern posts that can be found on any porn site.
When I visited MA yesterday there were five pages of new posts since my previous visit the day before. Four of the pages were 1990s videos. In the gallery updates there were again five pages of which the major proportion was either 1990s models or silicone enhanced 1980s ones. There were two sets of pictures from Harrison Marks Kamera magazine and a couple of other pictures that were of interest – so I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies.
All this from a site that started out to archive vintage and retro material before it was lost in the mists of time!
Like Tony, I feel that the site lost its original mandate once 1990s material was added.
My Archives is dead. The list of model indices for the 1950s and 1960s – a massive undertaking – is no longer available. It served as a wonderful resource for identifying models. Many vintage models who had been identified and allotted folders will return to being “unknown.” No other porn site provided this service for the vast number of women who graced figure magazines printed in the 1960s. (The Spiderpool group is still attempting to identify a select group of models who worked during the 1950s.)
I miss the back-and-forth interactions with others who appreciated the classic porn era, interactions that provided information about the industry that I wasn’t aware of, even though I worked in it. Now I still post stories about my experiences on my two wordpress blogs, but this format does not allow for back-and-forth discussions.
Perhaps it was inevitable that My Archives would die given the unhampered capturing of its images, the lack of protection from theft. I am seriously wondering if I should continue to maintain the gloriadawn blog, or whether I should just write my stories and self-publish a few copies of a book to give to family and friends. At least print endures.