Creator Rights

I don’t understand how a creator can hold so much disregard for the rights of a fellow creator.

I stumbled across a weird, little rant on Facebook earlier today that went something like this:

  • Guy raves about a picture that photographer created.
  • Guy brings picture into Photoshop and “enhances” said picture.
  • Guy presents enhanced picture to photographer as “a gift.”
  • Photographer asks that guy not make changes to his pictures.
  • Guy gets his feelings hurt over his gift being rejected and decides that they can’t be Internet friends anymore.

There are different types of creators – some are very open to collaboration and embellishment, whereas others are more insular and prefer to create their art by themselves.

I myself certainly fall into that latter category. I really haven’t done very many collaborative works, and frankly if somebody took it upon themselves to improve my work without my consent, I’d be pretty offended by that, even if the gesture was done benevolently. That’s just who I am and how my creative process works – the things that I write are a reflection of who I am, and it just wouldn’t feel right for me to open up the canvas to allow most others to free form in my space.

But that’s just me, and there are tons of other artists who thrive in an openly creative space where people are constantly tweaking and improving each other’s works, adding layers upon layers of creativity as they build to the final work. Almost every major motion picture, TV show, radio show, and many of our favorite websites are collaborative works and they’d never work if only a single creative person held the reins for the entire process.

The thing is, everybody who works in those spaces has made a conscious decision to create like that. It’s not something that’s sprung upon them halfway through the season when suddenly they start getting draft edits back from the other 30 writers on staff. They all know what they’re getting into right off the bat because it takes a certain kind of person to create in that manner.

And neither way is wrong – some people just work differently than others, so while you may prefer working on a team with half a dozen other creatives, when I write the things that I write I prefer to go it alone. But I think that sometimes it’s difficult for those in the collaboration camp to remember that.

To give you an example – if I were to invite you over for tea, and when I went into the bathroom, you took it upon yourself to start rearranging the furniture in my house, chances are I’d have select words for you  when I came back! And it doesn’t matter if you’re a master at Feng Shui and your furniture is immaculately arranged in your own home – the point is that it’s inappropriate to come in and rearrange the furniture in someone else’s house without being asked to do so.

Art is the same way. By all means, if you’re the collaborative type and they’re the collaborative type, you should look into ways that the both of you can work together to improve each other’s work beyond what you’re capable of doing yourselves! But you’ve got to ask first because until you know otherwise, you have to respect that copyright belongs to the person who created that work and that you have no rights to make any modifications to it until they’re granted to you.

What you may see as a gift may actually be perceived as an insult to an artist who wasn’t interested in your collaboration in the first place, and as a fellow artist, you need to respect that others may not be as anxious to collaborate even if you are.

TL;DR – Don’t mess with stuff that doesn’t belong to you. (circa – kindergarten?)  😕

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