Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An open letter to those image thieves...

The above image, the original black & white version of Zombie Sam, is all over the freakin' internet now. Unfortunately the version floating around is one that amateur has hacked up and added some crappy text, see below.
Pretty shitty, eh? So when I began finding this image around I started asking for credit. Just a link back to my site. All I'm askin'. Nobody would respond! Nuthin'! So lucky for me image hosting sites like Photobucket, Flickr and MySpace can be held responsible for images on their servers and all it takes is a strongly worded email and the offending image is gone. Poof!

There are times when I still ask for credit. Looking over the site you can usually tell who's got enough class to stand up and give it. One of these sites is Zombies & Toys. Turns out he's actually a great guy and you should check out his site if you like...well, zombies and toys!

I'm seeing the tide is turning. More people are willing to give the credit and that's fine. But I shouldn't have to ask for it. When I approach these thieves the response I get 99% of the time is "I didn't know you did it. I just found it on somebody else's page and decided to use it". There are a couple things wrong with this excuse:

1. You found it on somebody else's page and decided to STEAL it...Yes, steal is the correct term. It's on their page, you thought it would make you look cool and you took it. Maybe it belonged to the owner of the page you stole it from. You didn't credit them either. You gave credit to nobody! Even crediting an image to the wrong person shows that you tried. You stole it!
2. Even if you knew the image didn't belong to the person you stole it from if they didn't credit anyone that means...Class? That's right, they STOLE it too! Because they did it doesn't mean it's OK for you to do it. If everybody walks by and punches your mother in the face does that make it OK for me to do it too? Maybe that's a bad analogy because she did raise a thief afterall but you get my drift. The point is someone drew that picture. And there's a chance that that someone is trying to make a living by drawing those kick-ass images you love to put on your MySpace page. Oh, and those really cool animated and glittery images that say "Happy B-Day" or "Thanks for the add!" someone out there drew those too.

I'm a professional artist. That means art is how I pay my bills. That doesn't mean I'm rich and famous and all that crap. Most professional artists are just like you, living paycheck to paycheck. And it's getting harder to be successful at what we do because of douche bag thieves laying claim to something that took hours of our time. Granted most thieves mean no harm. Most people don't realize what goes on behind the scenes. Thus the reason of this blog.

So just remember, that nifty little piece of art you want to use as your background is there because someone spent many, many years honing their skills and talent and because they took the time to sit down and dream it up and took even more time to make that vision a reality. They didn't do it for you, mind you, but for their families. That image helped keep bread on their tables and when you take it without giving proper credit that artist ceases to exist in the eyes of the public.

Don't be part of that.



zombies and toys said...

Wow! Well put. I feel bad that the image is on my site even though I gave credit. I honestly try to give credit when due and even link back to where I ...ahem .."borrowed" the original content from.

Regardless, even though I gave you credit and you didn't ask me to remove the image I am going to do so and replace it with your watermarked original.

Erin said...

Well-said, Mr. Tackett. I found, this past year, that every now and then an artist must keep a close eye on some clients, too--not just the general stealin' public! Not that this client in question "stole" my illustration, but that they broke a contract and screwed around with the digital file and printed utter CRAP with my name on it. You can imagine I was something other than thrilled: "Note to self," I thought: "Keep an eye on where your art goes after you think a job is done." Good for you for going after these art-hackers.

billy tackett said...

Jason, just wanted to make clear that my blog post wasn't aimed at you at all, just some others ne'er-do-wells out there that have been using my stuff for band fliers and crap like that. You'd think musicians would be a little more sensitive to copyrights...
Erin, yeah, you gotta watch out for EVERYBODY! And that's unfortunate.

zombies and toys said...

Thanks, Billy. I didn't take it that way. Matter-of-fact, I appreciate your speaking well of Z&T! After previous conversations I assumed if it was an issue you would have said and I'd like to think you would assume I'd comply. I just overlooked the personal aspect until reading your post and as a result feel that I should remove it.

By leaving it up, I am contributing to the availabilty of the altered version to others. A thought that never ocurred to me until reading your post.

Concerned said...

What I find strange is not your take on image copyrighting - on the contrary, I fully agree that the artist of a particular piece should be given as much credit as possible. What's strange is the blatant hypocrisy you purport.

It's a general estimate, but I'm going to say that at least a quarter, if not more, of your "original pieces" are basically another artist's hard-work 'zombified'. Now, sure, you put a lot of detail into everything, and the pieces are really good, there's no arguing that.

But pieces like the rework of "We Can Do It"? Come on. Where on your site do you give credit to J. Howard Miller? Or did you just happen to conceive a zombie poster that looks REALLY similar to Miller's original, and very famous, work?

Try listening to your own advice before riding your horse along the moral high road. It will at least make you seem less of a bigot when you point your digital finger.

billy tackett said...

My zombified pieces fall under the umbrella of parody, or satire. I did not take the works of Miller, Flagg and the rest and post them around without credit. I did not infringe on anyone's copyrights. I took an existing work or image and I actually painted a zombie version of it. I didn't paint over them. I made real life 16"x20" oil paintings. I made 'em. Let me repeat that: I made them. (BTW, Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam are copyright free)

The Dead White & Blue pieces you are referring to are just a fraction of what I do. I have roughly 200 illustrations and art on my site which constitute only the last few years worth of work. Only 15 of those are zombified parodies. I suck at math but I don't think that's a quarter...

Again, what I do is poke fun at something, which is Americana. Other things that are in the same parody as my stuff; Mad Magazine; Spaceballs, Pride Prejudice & Zombies; Saturday Night Live...I could go on but I think that illustrates my point.

When someone uses my images without permission it is breaking the law. Period. Now if someone were to use one of my paintings as reference and spoof it (which they have BTW) I couldn't do anything about it. It's parody. As long as they created it themselves. And it is parody.

So as I sit here on my high horse, which is white and named Lester, riding down the moral high rad, which is paved with Skittles, and I point my digital finger, which is not fickle at all, at the unethical rapscallions I have my advice playing on a continuous loop on my Ipod. And I am STILL not a bigot!

You should research parody and copyright laws.


billy tackett said...

Also, since the first Zombie Sam image was drawn back in 2004 I find it rather amusing that you are the very first person to make a comment like that! Did I catch you using my image in a unauthorized manner? If so, shame on you!

Darkin Inc said...

Yours is an iconic image Billy. If I see it anywhere uncredited - I'll let you know

billy tackett said...

Thank you Darkin. I really appreciate that.

I think most of us have been online long enough to see that anyone that makes accusations anonymously or under a screen name have virtually no credibility. And when the accusations are as absurd as these it drives that point home.

Tania Hicks Lambert said...

It's a shame that you have to take time away from your creativity to play detective. Comparing stealing artwork to creating a parody is apples and oranges. And anyone who knows the hard work you put into your art would understand that. How many times have we seen the Mona Lisa used in a satire? As a marketing manager, I use other people's work all the time in my ads. I also pay hundreds of dollars out of my budget for that priviledge. It is mostly photography, but I respect their livelihood nonetheless. And I respect you as well. So keep riding Lester down that moral high road of Skittles, but just watch what you do with that digital finger of yours.

Paula Handley aka Mystik Waboose said...

Billy, this is why every time I find one of your images on a friend's fb page, I make a point of saying, "hey, that's Billy's work" and sending them to your site (like I did with my friend Robert). I want to make sure that you ARE getting the credit for your own work, and hey, they *might* actually buy something.

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