So my wife tells me I'm beginning to be preachy. Some of my friends now look at me as though I am ringing a bell and wearing a huge placard that reads "The End Is Near!" whenever I mention the subject. I don't care. I feel that intellectual rights are in mortal danger right now. As I type this evil forces are gathering together, preparing for the next wave of attacks on our rights as creators. A little dramatic? Maybe. But it's true.
The other day a link was passed around on Facebook. Not one of those links shared by your friends and family but one of those links that are passed among industry professionals like top-notch illustrators, art directors, publishers etc. The link was to the blog of artist Chris Buzelli and the title of the post was "I need a web posse!". I recommend reading the blog for yourself but the short of the story is a guy that writes a blog for a CBS website used one of Chris' pieces as an illustration without permission, which as we all know is illegal. The thief goes through great lengths to defend himself. His various defenses include:
1. I gave credit so it's OK.
2. I'm doing the artist a favor by getting his work "out there" for potential clients to see.
3. It's covered under Fair Use clause of the Copyright Law.
4. It was a small image so that doesn't count as art.
5. It was the artist's fault because he didn't take the necessary precautions, i.e. watermark, disable right click-save as, etc., to prevent me from taking it.
6. I'm in a hurry to write so I can make money so I don't have time to ask for permission to use art or to find copyright free stock art.
7. Copyright laws are outdated therefore need to be broken.
8. I'm not making any money from it so it's OK...
...and there's more! He then writes an article teaching artists how to prevent their art from being used without permission! And after CBS chastises and publicly apologizes for his behavior he goes on to write two more articles on his personal site. One talking about how if it's OK to use art that is copyright free all art should be free and a suggestion on how to grant usage permissions for art online or some such nonsense. I stopped reading. But the real education came from the comments left on his articles. Out of the literally hundreds of comments there have been less than 10 defending him. All have been trying to get him to see the error of his ways. The real heartwarming part is realizing that here is an issue that everyone that has a stake in agrees on! What do we agree on? Copyright laws are necessary for the protection of artists and creators. Period.
Before I go into my rant any further let me add this little anecdote.After reading about this for the first time I decided to run a little search for some of my stuff. So I go to www.tineye.com which is a reverse image search engine. You type in an image URL or upload an image and TinEye will find other instances of that image on the web. It ain't perfect but it is getting better. And I have caught numerous art thieves in the act using this little gem, not just stealing my art but the art of others.
I do a search of my Color Zombie Sam. One of the hits is from a horror blog. I click the link and thinking I will find an article about me or my image or t-shirt as I stumble across from time to time I actually find a blog post in which the author is proclaiming the he is now on Twitter and everyone should follow him. My Zombie Sam is just stuck there. No mention of him. No link back to me. No mention of my name. Below is the cease and desist email I sent (identities have been altered because I do not believe in promoting those who steal from me):
The image of concern has been removed from my website on April 7, 2010 @ 2:10pm.
No offense was meant.