I hate it when I see things that I wish I could unsee. Like donkey show photos. Or the fucking lemonparty web site. Holy crap… can someone please pass the brain bleach? Ack. Seriously? But the other day I cyber-tripped upon something that took this to new levels. What I saw pushed me into a pit of bullshit and disillusionment. I know. I’m a total drama queen. *straightens tiara*
I ran across someone online, whom I’ve considered to be a savvy social media chick. People seem to value her opinions and advise. But I was dumbstruck that she was using an artist’s work as her online identity… without the artist’s permission, she was using it everywhere—facebook, twitter, google+, web icons—wallpapered everywhere. But worse still, without so much as a credit or byline. But wait. This woman is the purveyor of knowledge of all things internet. We know better than to do this. Don’t we? *forehead slap* Or do we?
I know the images were used without permission, because the artist was as surprised and pissed off as I was when I asked her about them. As an illustrator and graphic designer, I’ve also been ripped off countless times. So I tend to be a little sensitive about copyright infringement. And by a little sensitive, I mean peevy. Really fucking peevy. Like I want to take them down peevy. Like the copyright thief is a cobra, and I’m the badass honey badger. Rawhr. But that’s only in my mind. In reality, I’m a big. ass. wuss… So here, enjoy this Honey Badger rant intermission while I calm the fuck down. Thanks to Randall.
Anywhooooo… I get it. Copyright laws are confusing. And copyright attorneys are pricey. Like Gucci loafer kind of pricey. So much so, that only Disney can afford to hire them to send out cease and desist orders. Ok, maybe Disney and a few others. But they’re expensive. (Note to self: in my next life be a
copyright attorney copyright attorney’s wife only child.) No one is here to decipher the law, image by image, for us real folk. What can we use? What’s off-limits? *sigh* But as a cop told me once, when I told him that I didn’t know the keg in the back seat was illegal, “Ignorance does not provide exception from the law.”
The internet isn’t our personal free-without-strings image bank. We need to be mindful of ownership and courtesy. I’m not talking about viral memes. Good luck figuring out where those babies come from. I’m envisioning a kid in a basement somewhere, with a computer with only one font—Helvetica Black—and a broken keyboard that has a stuck caps lock key. Those memes seem to be dropped out of the heavens somewhere, and are fair game. But I could be wrong. Come at me, bro.
Mind you, I’m not talking about the casual twitter and facebook users either. Social media have blurred the lines in excruciatingly, mind-boggling ways. No one is going to serve you with papers for posting a copyrighted photo of Justin Bieber on your fb timeline. Your friends, may however bitchslap you into next week. We all make choices. And some are worse than others. I have high school pictures that prove that point. But unless you’re under fourteen, Bieber posts are inexcusable. Stop that. And look, just don’t take credit for someone else’s work, even as a casual social media user. That makes you a dickweed.
What I’m really talking about here are those who derive an income from their exploits in the interwebs, and those who get paid for their presence in blogville. But I’m sure you’re one of the majority who is already conscious of copyrights, and not one of the handful of party poopers, ruining everyone else’s fun. I’m talking to the poopers.
The thing is, if something is not yours, and it’s not public domain, ask permission to use it, or at the very least, provide a link back so they can find you to thank you, or tell you take it down. Especially if you’re using it dominantly, like in your identity. The artist may or may not want to be associated with you, your causes, your opinions, or your sagging boob pictures. Oh wait, sorry. That last one may be just me. Anyway, it’s the artist’s prerogative. They are the talent behind that which you want to
steal use. The least you can do is afford them that. Just ask. You may think it’s a public domain work. But think about it. If you’re ripping it off from an artist gallery web site, chances are slim-to-none that you should be using it.
Acknowledge the creator. Not God, the Creator. The creator of the stuff you’re
stealing using. GIVE A BYLINE. Most of us are neurotic fucks, and just appreciate the credit for our work. Right? Don’t be a douche canoe. Seriously, some of us still get usage fees for our artwork. Helloooo. Think about it. I know, there are times that it’s impossible to find the creator. (Some people find Jesus though. Which is apparently easier in some cases.) But Jesus aside, if you can’t find the content creator, because the image has whored around the interwebs a few too many times, use it at your discretion. Kind of like other things that have whored around a bit too much. Discretion is key, people. And if you ever remove someone’s byline from a piece to pimp as your own, may fifteen rabid, horny monkeys attack your face.
The artist, whose work was used without permission by the nameless media maven, is highly recognizable. She’s all over the internet. Finding her, in order to request permission, or at the very least providing a byline is child’s play. I just did a search on the content of the composition of her painting that media maven is using. (Let’s just say the painting was of humping ninja zombie lizards. I would have searched “humping ninja zombie lizards.“) And guess what… in doing the search, her images with her name attached were some of the first to pop up.
I want to believe that media maven didn’t realize what she was doing was copyright infringement. Or that she somehow thought she was doing this artist a favor by giving her exposure. I really really really want to believe that this person was not putting herself above the law and others. Oh my God, someone slap me.
I had to throw back a martini just now, to get over the fact that even someone who knows better would still take such blatant liberties. Ok, ya, you’re right. I would have had the martini anyway. *pffft* I know this is a somewhat anonymous medium. However it’s probably best to think of it as less so. Just play nice in the sandbox. If you want to play with the other kids’ stuff, ask.
It’s the golden-brown rule, people. Don’t steal others’ shit and they won’t steal yours. Your good karma will come back to you. As will the bad karma. Who wants to come back as a dung beetle next time? Not me. They eat poop. And I’m not fond of poop.
*steps down off of soap box* *tips tiara*
I risked sounding like a pedantic dickwagon here, to initiate some chatter.
Comments are encouraged. So let’s talk about this.
Here’s some light reading on copyright law.