Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The High Road

Have a CD that floats your boat? Did you burn those tunes onto your ‘puter as a series of MP3 files and disperse it about the net for mass consumption? Have you downloaded a bunch of songs from the net without having paid a dime? Sure, I’ve done it. I don’t do it anymore, but I have in the past. Come on, you’ve done it too…

Do you find yourself partaking in hundreds of channels on your tube without paying any cold hard cash for the service? You don’t steal cable? Good, neither do I.

How about photocopying a knit or crochet pattern from a book then distributing said copies to a few of your fellow yarn addicts? Please, I don’t even want to hear the answers to this question…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ownership of ideas as of late. This is mostly due to the fact that I currently find myself in the position as owner, operator and seller of ideas. Now, moving from sole idea production to idea producer and distributor was truly a difficult transition for me. Why? Well, I’m fundamentally paranoid, that’s why! LOL

Let’s face it. I am a trained as an artist, not a designer. In art school, we learned to make fabulous, unique, amazing objets d’art while bantering obfuscating art-speak with our milieu, simultaneously balancing a glass of wine in one hand and a pat of brie atop slice of baguette atop our egos in the other, all the while clad in cool artist garb, which is like wearing a neon sign that flashes, “Here Stands A Creative Genius!” Yep, I paid lots o’moola for that variety edu-prep, which really doesn’t prep you for anything, but life in the art world. And the art world? Yeah, that resides waaay outside real world city center, let me tell you.

So, copyright infringement? Trademark violations? Intellectual property rights? Fair use provisions? Creative license? Plain old stealing? Yeah, we didn’t touch on any of those concepts while I was in school. We read a lot of Freud though? Does that count? I digress…

Truly, when one is showing their objets d’art in brick and mortar galleries, the only people likely to partake in this experience range from family and friends to other artists, gallerists, art aficionados and art critics. Not a big pool o’peeps, peeps. Sure, ideas can be infringed upon or hey, just plain old ripped off, but with such a small incestuous pool of peeps, this is not as big of a problem as you may perceive. Despite this fact, there are artists who are nonetheless paranoid, secretive and/or covetous of their ideas. For the rest of us, it’s all about showing your stuff, pointing to it and exclaiming, “I made that piece of genius. I am artist, hear me roar!” Like I said, real world city center? Yeah, not even close. Nonetheless, this small world and the people who inhabit its core seem content and safe to continue along the path of art for art’s sake and well, I don’t blame them.

However, ultimately I am who I am. And who I am is a restless creature not easily satisfied by life in a cage. Doesn’t really matter how great the cage looks, how much studio space I have in that cage, how safe it is to express my ideas in the cage, how cool the peeps are that reside in the cage or how many bottles of red I am able to consume at the Friday night cage-gallery opening. It’s a cage nonetheless. I love freedom, discovery, adventure, invention, and well, yarn. This is a completely different post topic, but yarn ain’t exactly a respected art material down at the old art world rec center. In fact, the word “craft” or any derivation of that word is a pretty derogatory term in the world o’art (like I said, ‘nother post entirely). All of these factors combined forced me to put pedal to the metal and hightail it away from the art world rec center pool over to the coast for a dip in the ocean. The world wide web version of the ocean that is.

And what do you get when you take up residence at your very own domain name, web pages available to anyone with an internet connection? Um, lots and lots of peeps. Lots and lots of peeps from all walks of life who have access to literally anything and everything a little techno savvy heart could or would desire. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto. Nope we’re in the big wide world where art, images and creativity are ubiquitous and intellectual property rights violations are too. Yee haw! WWW also stands for wild, wild west oh, by the way.

Yeah, so knowing this, I was a just a wee bit paranoid to begin showing my work, publishing my patterns or selling objects on my website and blog. I hail from the safety of the art world after all. In spite of this fact, I slowly but surely let all that LabLinoleum has to offer hang out. And you know what? In doing so I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the goodness of people, the badness of people and everything in between. I have learned that copyrights are very important. I have learned that written contracts are a comforting convention. I have learned that I have lots of good friends out there in blogland who are watching out for me and my creations. I have learned that one needs to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. Therefore, I do not download “free” music, I always pay my cable bill, I purchase art and craft items from the source or a reputable dealer and when I know someone who is interested in a pattern or a compendium of patterns outside the Monster Crochet universe that I happen to already own, I purchase an edition of that book or pattern for desirous individual as a gift.

I am certain that there are many individuals out there who do not agree with me. I am positive that some will view me as a stick in the mud (or other less affable terms). I am also certain that taking the high road, though it be difficult at times, is the road I prefer to traverse.

17 comments:

Tamie said...

word.

Deneen said...

I think you are preaching to the choir here. I agree with you 100%.

Pink said...

Weel said, LadyL, you are so right and I wish more people could understand that copyright infringement is the same as stealing.

lisa s said...

this is the right moment for this. thank you.

and so well said!

Alison said...

It seems to me, a hideous thing, that many people do not understand the value that is your thoughts, your ideas, your words, and that they have the right to take said items, and use them as their own without conscience.

This is, as Lisa said, the right moment for this, and I thank you for saying it loud and with articulation.

Batty said...

Well said!

I went to library school and we talked a lot about copyright and such. Don't think we covered Freud, though. I guess you can't have it all.

Fiber Deviant said...

very thought-provoking post... the anonymity of the internet makes "ripping someone off" a lot easier, i think.

some people are more prone to try to get away with something they know is wrong... if they think they won't be caught.

i do all of my projects without a pattern...even when i participated in the psychotic tomato CAL...

but I have looked at other people's projects online and used them as a point of inspiration...

that being said, i would NEVER take credit for someone else's work!

thanks for this post... i am sure it will open up lots of conversations!

Nina said...

I'm completely with you on this one. We need to honor the value of the work and intellectual property of others if we expect our own to honored.

Sue said...

This web stuff is relatively new and a little education is most definitely appropriate. The great thing about the web is it's free-ness. The bad thing about the web is it's free-ness. (Is that a word? Probably not.) We all need reminding that just because you can copy something, does NOT make it right.

That being said, I'll delete my post about my jellyfish if you find it infringes on your creativity. No hard feelings but deepest apologies.

Julie said...

As a writer and a designer, when it comes to copyright violations, myself, I tend to take the approach "If I were the artist/author of this, would I mind it if...?"

If I wrote a knitting book, and someone BOUGHT it, then copied out the patterns they knit so they could keep the book nice - then pitched the copies when through, I wouldn't care. Even if they made more copies than supposedly allowed, etc. So I do this with no guilt. I bought the book, after all. I don't post them to the internet or anything crazy.

If I produced a CD of music (be thankful I wouldn't), and someone BOUGHT it and then proceeded to copy the music to their Ipod or computer or whatever to listen to, I would not have a problem with it, and I feel I should be legally allowed to do it, and damn the DRMC and RIAA and other entertainment industry fascists.

The only problem is, with out of print books, I can't buy them except through secondary sale, and the author never sees a dime no matter how much I pay for the book. So I copy patterns out of those with no guilt, too. If I get a chance to buy something of the author's that IS in print, I try to. (Kaffe Fassett's first book, etc.)

I try to keep it polite and honest, but these days it's being taken to ridiculous extremes. Suing people for several thousand dollars per illegally downloaded song is utterly wrong, and should be shut down by the court system.

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I agree with Julie. There has to be some balance there, somewhere. With the sole exception of the VLA, there is nothing really *new* in fiber arts, and when someone tries to make something inspired by you, isn't that more of a compliment? (vis-à-vis Sue's jelly fish - with links back to your pattern page.) As long as they aren't trying to make money off it (by selling the pattern or product as their own), I suppose.

I never felt like I was ripping anybody off when I bought a c.d. (because they no longer sell albums in stores) and then copied the album onto cassette tapes (b/c I'm retrotech [yes, I think I just coined that term; fair use it to your heart's content] like that) to play in my car. Although I understand the *principle* behind the HUGE music companies suing 15 year olds, that doesn't mean I think its a good idea and I *do* think it's a waste of already over-taxed resources (i.e., the court system)

Once again, neither common sense nor decency can be litigated, legislated, or dictated, and it will be interesting to see how all this works out.

CharacterGirl said...

Having been in the "ideas" biz for as long as the internet has allowed for easy rip offs, I've never once stolen an mp3 or watched a TV show that I hadn't paid for. I've had my own products blatantly ripped off, but have never ripped off anyone else's.

Karma is a bitch, and I'm not about to tempt it by being as low road as others might be.

ladylinoleum said...

Sue, your jellyfish is just that...yours. You shouldn't delete the post at all. Just because you used mine as a jumping off point doesn't mean you've committed copyright infringement. Not in the least.

And hey, I've always been of the mind that as long as I am linked back to when my images, words, etc. are used, then no harm, no foul. Really, I'm talking about making something using someone else's pattern and calling it your own. That is at the root of the matter.

Julie and Monkeygurrrrrl, yep, with you both.

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I don't know if you read Crazy Aunt Purl, but about a year ago when some chick copied a post of hers - WORD FOR WORD - and presented it as her own. CAP's readers were outraged, and left all kinds of hate comments to the point where the offender had to disable the comments.

That's karma in action. :)

Mandy said...

This is a very excellent post.
I'm cringing a bit from the accuracy of your description of art school. ;)

Marietta said...

i respect fiber artists more than i do the recording industry....i mean i bought it on album, then tape, and some of those on cd...do i have to pay for the same thing a 3rd or 4th time to get it on my mp3 player?

theatre school...i just paid alot to do laundry for a living :)

Miranda said...

What a thought provoking post. I'm in the group that just buys things: patterns/ CD's and if I think its great I share it with people but I don't go promoting it as my own- why would someone do that anyways? I would assume it would be because they couldn't come up with it on their own but wish they could have. I like to make things, my own ideas or someone else's and I appreciate other people's creativity. I could never say that I came up with something if I really didn't. But thats just who I am- and obviously you all are the same. What a world we would have if everyone was just honest...