Copying IS theft!

May 4, 2011 9:56pm
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I understand that the source is actually a little old, but this video about copying and copyright by Nina Paley that I was pointed to by the folks at webcomics.com really started to rub me the wrong way the more I started looking into it. But I think it was the cutesy, little jingle that she wrote that just pushed me over the edge…

Because here’s the thing – if the artist is behind sharing his or her work openly and they want to encourage derivative works, then more power to ‘em! Creative Commons is a great way for artists to relinquish some rights out to their fanbase while retaining others that they deem important, and it’s flexible enough to allow many variations. But just because you want your work to be free and openly distributable to the masses doesn’t necessarily mean that I want my work to do the same.

I’m not one who subscribes to the artsy theory that “the art just wants to be free” and that it “hinders the progress of culture” to put constraints on artistic expression. I know there are some who are happy living in poverty just for the sake of making their art, but that isn’t good enough for me. I want to be a writer and make a living from it, and to do so I need to retain a certain amount of control over the things that I produce.

Yes, my humor columns are available free of charge every week on my website, but that doesn’t mean that I want other people copying entire columns verbatim and posting them on their own sites. Not only do I miss out on advertising revenue, I’m not able to track statistics of who’s reading my work, I’m not able to provide the same experience by referring them to other columns I’ve written or promoting my book, and probably even more concerning than all of the above – what if I don’t actually want my work associated with their particular site???

A link and even a small excerpt are perfectly fine under Fair Use, however as a creator I think that I should have the right to say, “No thanks – I’d rather not have my work re-printed on your site because it has content that’s offensive to me.” Or included in your book, or quoted on your TV show, or whatever. Readers are more than welcome to enjoy my content via the means that I’ve made available, and even ask if there’s something (like e-books) that they’d like to see in the future, but in order to make money off of my own work I need to retain control of the things that I create and conventional copyright laws allow me to do just that.

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