I've received many angry emails from friends who for some reason wanted my last blog post to be about them. They were all pretty certain it was all about them because my fake conversation sounded just like something they said. Ok. Funny how years of similar situations all sound the same. I knew how to write the dialogue example because I've had years of experience dealing with people. My post was not based on one unusual singular experience, unfortunately. And it is not an experience that is unique to me. If you read along on facebook and twitter, you see why people don't want to talk about it. It's kind of like watching Bill Clinton trying to define “is.” If I had been writing about my actual experiences it would've been way funnier and weirder and involved someone getting injured or dying.
Apparently, using words like thing and magic made it really hard for people to understand what I was talking about. Odd, it works when Shel Silverstein does it. If your daughter came home from the prom in tears because her BFF who went dress shopping with her and helped her pick out her dress showed up at the same prom in the same dress and danced with the boy your daughter has a crush on, would you try to define who owns every dress at Forever 21? No. Would you tell her to be happy for her friend that she got to dance with the great guy? No. You'd sit on the floor with your crying teen and a plate of cookies and explain that her friend is a jealous bitch and a real friend would find her own dress and would not dance with that guy no matter what. And of course, your daughter looked way better in the dress. Then you'd call your BFF and you'd both be all OMFG! Oh I can't resist...see, your daughter's thing was her dress and it made her feel magical and her friend bought the same dress to impress the guy your daughter likes.
If a stranger showed up at the prom in the same dress, that would suck. But it wouldn't be a knife in the heart like your BFF wearing the same dress.
When a stranger steals your photos or copies your art, that sucks, too. And it feels totally different than when your friend bites your style. It's like gulping sour milk right from the container. It makes your face go 8 different angles all at once when you see it. The great thing about the internet is it lets us share our art with everyone. I love the internet. I love art. I love the combination of both. The bad thing about the internet is people take our art and don't bother to say thanks or even let you know they took it. Often they use your art for their own financial gain and you don't find out until you just happen to see it when looking for something else. By use I mean for financial or social gain without your consent (or whatever type of use would bother you). Use common sense. I am not talking about inspiration boards, Pinterest, Etsy treasuries, pictures with interviews, links in blogs, or times when people link to your images because your art rocks their world. We all know that is fantastic. I am talking about the times when people use your images to make stuff of their own to sell something and don't say, Hey, I got this art from Sally or pay you for it.
I am not going to let fear stop me from sharing my life in art and photos online. There are a few precautions I am taking, for example:
1. Uploading only low resolution images. Low resolution images become all pixely and distorted when enlarged and are harder to duplicate well.
2. Watermarking everything, even low resolution images. Watermarks can be removed but why make it easy for the bad-intenders?
3. Keeping track of where I post photos. Choose one photo hosting site that will work in conjunction with your blog, Twitter, and Facebook so you don't have photos floating out in the internet that you have forgotten about.
Those are simple technical things I can do. The other steps are more about my attitude and security. One major change I have made in the last year is that I do not post art online that I do not want stolen by people online. No, that doesn't mean it's ok to steal or copy what is online now, but if I have some projects that I am extra protective about I will not post them anywhere anyone can see without a password and an envelope full of cash. I can still share those projects with people in a secure environment. In every business there are challenges and when you sell art online, theft is one of those challenges. I decided to make a plan (gasp, some rules!) about the way I would think about things so that when they happened, I wouldn't be stuck in the Bad Thai Food doubled over position or the Sour Milk Face unable to see through open eyes. Since I am the boss of my business, I have to follow my rules. What works for me may not work for everyone.
*You don't have to decide what to do this instant. Give yourself a minute if you need one.
* Be assertive and clear about how you want the situation resolved, if it is resolvable: Stop using my art to make shirts immediately!
*Don't engage in discussions with irrational people who won't hear you anyway. It's a time waster. Have a cookie instead.
*Don't trust people you don't trust.
*It's not your job to explain the difference between right and wrong to people over the age of 7. They know, they totally know. See LockUp.
*Praise Kenny! Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Let the people you pay to defend your legal rights be the ones to do that part of the job. You don't have to fight every battle yourself~ that's why you have an agent.
What Kenny Rogers song do you sing to yourself when the internet art bandits get you down?
Visit linkwithlove.org and support the respectful sharing of art online.
1. Neither of the teens I mentioned going to the prom are my nieces. Neither of my beautiful nieces would ever wear the same dress that their friend is wearing and Karen never calls her friends.
2. Hey, how come nobody ever read our how to apologize blog and thought that was about them? WTF?
3. I do not have any friends named Sally.]
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