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Why I want to spank the Internet

January 4, 2008

This is a personal message to every PSP tube/tag/sig group out there, to all the MySpace glitter queens and the LJ icon divas, to the “collectors” who never paid a cent for their collections, and every single one of you who knew better and did it anyway.

If you’re easily offended by strong language and have never stolen a piece of art off the internet this would be the place to stop reading. If you’re easily offended by strong language and fall into one of the above groups, I sincerely don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re offended or not. Keep reading, this is for you.

I love that people like my artwork. Please, look at it online all you want. Favorite it on DeviantArt, bookmark it on deli.cio.us, comment on it on Flickr. Better yet, buy a copy and hang it up on your wall where you can look at it every day… even if you put it in the bathroom, stuck to the bottom of your toilet.

But stop stealing it. Stop using it for icons or avatars (unless you’ve downloaded it from my AllAvatars.com account). Stop using it for your RP character. STOP uploading it to other galleries.

I don’t care that you love my art so much that you think cutting out the backgrounds I slaved over–and I do slave over them, I loathe backgrounds–and adding a elephant’s dungheap of bad PSP glitter on top of it is some kind of homage to my artwork. I don’t care if you think that all art should be free. I don’t care if your only talent in life is clicking the right mouse button. KNOCK IT OFF.

You say, “well you posted it online, what did you expect?”

I expect that since I label every single finished image (and a few of the not finished ones) with my copyright notice that you’re going to at least see it and think “oh, probably shouldn’t steal it.” I expect that the law means something. I expect that if you like my work that much you’d do me the common courtesy of not making it look fucking ugly with filters and glitter and bad photo effects.  I sell my work online. In order to do that, people need to be able to see it. I get jobs by posting my work in online galleries and portfolios. These sites, no matter how many amateurs use them as well, no matter how much crappy art is slung in with the phenomenal, are NOT. your personal. CLIPART galleries. You wouldn’t walk into a streetfront gallery, admire a painting on sale in the window, tuck it under your arm and walk out with it. You wouldn’t even walk into your local WalMart and shove as many cheap poster prints of black and white photos of strangers as you could fit in your coat pockets before strolling out the door.

It’s called stealing. Especially when you take it down to your trashy street-side stand or flea market booth and stick a ridiculously high price tag on it.

You say, “It’s only a hobby, I’m not making any money off of it.”

Maybe not. But neither am I. And while I hate to sound “greedy” this is my JOB. This is how I make money. It may seem like a hobby to you, but it’s not to me. This is my blood, and sweat and tears. This is my ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week, no paid vacations or sick time job.  I may not make as much at it as you do, but that’s why its so damned important to me. You can offer to pay me in “free promotion” and “exposure” until you’re blue… but last I checked those things don’t pay the bills or buy the groceries or cover my insurance. You take my art and clip off my copyright notices, take away my name, urinate purple filters and shit glitter all over it and then you have the audacity to put your own copyright notice on it and get snippy with anyone who tries to take it. Every time I see a piece of stolen artwork that’s been treated this way I want to swallow a few bottles of glitter and give the “artists” behind this vandalism the same treatment they gave the art they stole.

You say, “I did the same thing with [insert naive artist’s name here] and they didn’t mind.”

Do I look like a doormat? I feel bad for the poor sucker who waived their rights away to someone who has no respect for them in the first place. I’m not them. Some people love that whole “creative commons” crap. I’m not one of them. You’re going to have to wait for me to kick the bucket and be all mildewy and grody in my grave before anyone even thinks the phrase “public domain” in regards to my work. I respect the right of others to choose that path, however. I just personally don’t like following will-o-the-wisps into the woods.

You say, “well, I just copied it to my photobucket account so I could look at it later and show my friends.”

Here’s the thing. I have a photobucket account. It’s set to private. The reason for this is really simple. While photobucket is a great image hosting service, they’re also a PRINT service. Which means anything you post in a public account there can be turned into a print. Specifically, it can be printed by Photobucket, with all the money accrued in the transaction going BACK to photobucket. I have some problems with that. If you really, really want to come back and look at it later, BOOKMARK the page. It’s not that hard. It even uses the same right click menu as “copy” or “save image as”. Link your friends to my work instead of emailing it to them. It gives me page hits and makes me a lot less pissed off. It also keeps me from having to go collect a whole list of stolen image urls and write lengthy removal notices to various websites. These things make my shoulders cramp which pinches on the “forgiving” portion of my nervous system.

If you are old enough to be posting images of busty naked anime chicks doing nasty things with octopi to your photobucket account, or even old enough to read and understand the phrase “copyright”, you know better. In case you don’t, here’s what it means plain and simple.

Copyright – the right of the artist to tell you to knock it the fuck off if you try to reproduce, redistribute, alter, publish, or otherwise steal their hard work. Failure to comply means either we start sending politely worded notes to your ISP until they boot you off their servers or we start hiring lawyers. It really depends on how much you’ve ticked us off.

And here’s the thing: we all know each other, and we all watch each other’s backs. If you manage to get caught it won’t be a pebble in the pond, it’ll be an avalanche, and we have more than enough rocks to fill it in.

Artists of the internet, take back your rights. Take back your spines. Stand up against art thieves. Notify artists if you think you’ve found their work being used without permission. Educate the ignorant on what copyright is and what it means. Don’t be afraid to protect your work.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Wildeye permalink
    January 4, 2008 8:10 am

    Rant? Truth! Right on sister! I agree one hundred percent. I bet they didn’t know we all know each other…

  2. January 4, 2008 9:10 am

    We couldn’t agree more, tell it like it is. Glad to see you have put your talents to good use !

  3. SparrowsFlame permalink
    January 4, 2008 3:56 pm

    Thank you so much for providing the link to this in you DA journal. It made me decided to go ahead and take care of that one photo that someone has up in their album on PhotoBucket. Thanks for spreading the message. *hug*

  4. January 4, 2008 4:17 pm

    *nods* …*nods some more* *feels incredibly ranty*

    I’ve emailed a DMCA notice to photobucket for the ones on there and will wait and see about this other russian site :S Its such a balls up 😦

    I just get so sick and tired of being made out to be the one who causes all the problems and highlights all the idiots who have no respect who keep stealing the work.

    And it always makes me laff when people say I should be flattered/grateful that my work is “worthy enough” to be stolen. 0.0

    Together we’ll kick their asses

  5. Faerywitch permalink
    January 4, 2008 4:47 pm

    Yes, girl, I agree with you. It is so unfair!
    The thing that really pisses me off is when I see a tube, all glitery modification from someone else’s drawing, and it has the phrase: “owner: glittermama, copyrhighted to glittermama, don’t steal”. Excuse me!!??? What did she just do!? That stupid duality makes me want to go postal on them, they do know that they are stealing. Why do they consider that stealing from you is not bad but stealing from them is?

  6. Emeraldbird permalink
    January 4, 2008 7:01 pm

    yes! yes! yes! Well said!!!

  7. January 5, 2008 2:55 am

    My, what a lovely clue-by-four you have there! Well said!

  8. January 5, 2008 4:12 am

    Hear! Hear!!!!

    Stealing seems to be second-nature these days, sadly… Not just on the internet. I really don’t know about some people!!!

  9. January 7, 2008 6:17 pm

    YOU. GO. GIRL!!! Well said!!! I agree with you 100%

    I do offer my art for taggers…if they pay. I have my art licensed so that I can make money off of people who want to tag my art for a hobby. I think that’s my right as the original artist…and it must ALWAYS have my copyright on it. And my licensor has my back.

  10. melihitchcock permalink
    January 11, 2008 4:40 pm

    I absolutely cannot stand tube, sig, and tagging communities anymore. Very rarely do you find any that respect the original artist enough to ask to use the work, they just snag and go. Some over glorified sense of entitlement they have. Anything goes, and if they see it, they somehow believe it’s acceptable to just take it. A while ago, some people at concept art found a site selling a TON of concept artwork as posters! It’s like somehow when it comes to the internet, morality and rules go out the window. Suddenly it becomes okay in their minds to do what ever they please.

    It’s frustrating as all hell. I need to send off that note to Photobucket myself to get some of my work removed too. Yeah it’s nice and all that people like my art to save it, but don’t freakin redistribute it.

    Good rant, Melissa. Take a bow. Then a pitchfork to their heads. Just leave some for the rest of us. 😉

  11. January 15, 2008 8:36 pm

    Bravo! – you said it all just the way it need to be said (and with less profanity than I would have used)

    Thanks!

  12. January 15, 2008 8:38 pm

    Thank You!!!!

    And thanks for the PhotoBucket Fiasco link as well!!

    I license my work to taggers, and I have noticed that they are incredibly respectful of the Artists and their rights. They even report unlicensed taggers and police their own communities. They even make an effort to educate those in their communities about IP rights…I love them! So up front I have no problem with the legal taggers and in fact I’ve been quite impressed with them.

    But other than that-( I know you meant the illegal ones,) lol – great rant – We love you!!!! And thanks again for fighting and helping to get the word out!

  13. January 15, 2008 8:39 pm

    Thank You!!!!

    And thanks for the PhotoBucket Fiasco link as well!!

    I license my work to taggers, and I have noticed that they are incredibly respectful of the Artists and their rights. They even report unlicensed taggers and police their own communities. They even make an effort to educate those in their communities about IP rights…I love them! So up front I have no problem with the legal taggers and in fact I’ve been quite impressed with them.

    But other than that-( I know you meant the illegal ones,) lol – great rant – We love you!!!! And thanks again for fighting and helping to get the word out!

  14. January 16, 2008 4:22 am

    you rock.

  15. January 16, 2008 2:39 pm

    Thanks for posting this I didn’t notice PhotoBucket started doing prints >< No one has tried to still mine yet that I’m aware of but its good to keep in mind for the future and to look out for my friends on DA ^_^ Thanks

    PS I’m going to spread links to your Rant else where!!!!

  16. January 17, 2008 7:18 am

    Ugh. I should put my Photobucket account to “private.” (Oh, huh, it already is. Ace.)

    This is disturbing, really. I mean, I just use my Photobucket as a dump. I have some of my own things on there, as well as a few other people’s, but when I do that, I always make sure to give credit when I know who should be credited, though sometimes I don’t always know. I make some of my own icons, but I always give credit to the place where I found the images. And if I slip up, I acknowledge my idiocy, because I really do try to credit everyone, even if I print something out just for inspiration. But the places I’m getting the screenshots from generally say, “Use them, just credit.” (Though now, to be honest, I’m a little paranoid that I may have accidentally stolen something through ignorance…)

    This actually kind of happened to me & a LiveJournal friend was pointed out to us both by another LJ friend. Two people on a message board were using our art. Hers had a watermark, but I rarely sign my stuff & never watermark. Plus, mine had been cropped. It wasn’t an amazing drawing or anything, but still, I hadn’t been asked. Both of us were pretty taken aback. And there’s really no way you can know until someone sees it & tells you, & you realize that someone is using your work without your permission. The one time someone e-mailed me & asked, “Can I use your drawings for something?” I gave my permission, but that was completely unrelated. It makes me wonder if anyone else has done it, because I didn’t know about it until someone else caught it for me.

    (I apologize if this sounds disjointed or whiny in any way. I shall spread the word.)

  17. January 19, 2008 5:56 pm

    Hear hear!

    The “I think everything on the internet SHOULD be public domain, so I’m going to treat it as such regardless of what the law actually IS” attitude needs to stop.

  18. goldnote permalink
    July 15, 2008 8:13 am

    Thank goodness someone has the guts to say these things! I hate putting my artwork (especially photography) up on the Internet because of all the little brats and lazy bums out there who just want to mess with it or make money off of it. How terrible artists have to put up with those people. On more than one occassion, I’ve forgotten an artist name for an icon, I’m not perfect, but that is what search engines are for! People just don’t get it that art and music (oh, don’t get me started on music) are NOT for them and them alone to do with as they will.

  19. deangelo permalink
    March 14, 2009 3:45 am

    wow you rant on don’t you. we have this bookmarked in our group for a good laugh. seems no one has ever really heard of you and those of those of us that have, find flaws in your artwork. honey you have a big head. although i/we do agree with what you are saying, we find you are laughable at best and agree you should maybe find a real job….sound good? and maybe take an anger management class or two.

    • mercuralis permalink
      March 18, 2009 3:49 pm

      Well, since I suspect that you’re one of those PSP glitter queens that I’m “ranting on” about think whatever you like. The fact is, at the end of the day, more people know who *I* am than who *you* are, and you couldn’t create an original bit of art with a gun to your head. And you can tell the rest of your School for PSP and More group that the same goes for them, too. So laugh all you want. In the end, the law is on my side, not yours. Maybe you should take some legal classes.

  20. March 22, 2009 11:34 pm

    The thing I love about people like deangelo is that they are incapable of creating even a vaguely decent sentence whilst ragging about someone else’s “flaws”.

    Le sigh. Personally, I think they should link to *their* gallery, so we can see how it’s done. Because it’s not like someone who isn’t a far better artist would say something that stupid, right? Oh, wait, internet, never mind.

    Oh, and deangelo, since you’re so concerned about flaws?

    Questions end with a *question mark*, they start with a capital letter, and punctuation is important, even for you.

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