06 June 2016

[art] When You're Not Successful And People Still Help Themselves To Your Content

My friend, Jeff Fisher, has been a successful graphic designer for a very long time and I much admire him. He's published two very good books and put himself out there in the world in what still seems to be a courageous way: He stands up for himself in the matter of holding people accountable for simply helping himself to his work, which he has gotten justly paid for, but is just as likely to see his work used across the world by small businesses who don't understand that graphic work has value as well as by desperate designers in 'crowdsourcing' online logo factories.

A personal blog he maintains is http://jefffisherlogomotives.blogspot.com/, and it's got good reading there.

It's kind of a funny thing to acknowledge but I, too, have been similarly done. It's a funny thing that obscurity and lack of success does not bring immunity from this. In a recent posting I mentioned that a few people have, in the past, helped themselves to my own online stuff, specifically, the PDX downtown skyline picture I snapped in 2004. It's even being used in unauthorized places today, as this Google Images search will show.

The commonality I mentioned in that post that the three authorized users have is that, at first, they found the image on the web and simply appropriated it, without asking. At the moment I discovered that, I was a little wounded; after all, all three were fairly savvy online users, all had good ideas, and all were good people. I say this because I want to pointedly add that once I contacted them they apologized and since I liked them and what they did, I agreed to license use of the picture because of that personal reason.

But I think it goes to show that no matter how obscure or unsuccessful you are, you put something up on the web, out it goes and, Berne convention or no, people will use it. Now, I still, after all these years, have profited pretty much not at all because of another thing; I had, and still have, no real strategy for holding such kyping accountable. I'm not the DMCA sort, but simply helping yourself to what I do online without so much as checking in with me isn't cool either.

So this is a work in progress, still, even 12 years after the original was taken.

And, yes, I might have imagined that this would happen ... but I might have also imagined people could send me an email on it. And I've evolved in more ways than that; I'm much, much less inclined to use something off the 'net without making sure it's available for such (I'm thankful to Wikimeda commons for this … most people there put stuff in expecting it to be shared and used), or simply creating my own (I've the skill to do so).

I guess what I'd say to anyone putting stuff on the web right now is, have some sort of plan in place for dealing with when people help themselves to your stuff.

Be ready to contact them. Because, for some reason, they won't contact you.

And so it goes.

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