You know, there's no crime or shame in wanting to earn a living by doing good things. It doesn't make them less good, unless that's the ONLY reason you're doing them.
I try to do good things because I think they're the right things to do. It happens that my talent for “good things” lies in social and political commentary, media analysis, and endeavors of that nature.
I don't do it “to make money,” I do it because I’m damned good at it and it needs doing. I need to have some kind of income to keep doing it, and if I sink my time into washing dishes or bussing tables forty hours a week, I won't have time to do the things that I’m best at and that most need doing.
There are a lot of page owners and admins out there - some innocently through lack of understanding, and some quite deliberately - who take my images and other people's and upload them to their own walls, drawing traffic for themselves and away from my page and my work. In some cases, such as the toxic Desmond/Lou Colagiovanni hydra of sockpuppets (Being Liberal, We Survived Bush, I Acknowledge Class Warfare, We The People, and at least 50 others), they draw this traffic to themselves and then use it to direct people to their sites...where they make money. Those Examiner articles that Lou is always pimping? He gets paid for them. Those AddictingInfo.Org "articles" that are always (or nearly so, god knows I don't bother reading all, or any, of them anymore) just high-school level rewrites of news from other sources? They make money every time you go read one of them. Every time you share a link from "Being Liberal," it's a slap in the mouth to every person out there like me who strives to create original content. Every time you link to an Examiner article by Lou C., it's sending money his way and taking it away from people who actually write and respect their audiences and progressive principles.
You know what’s hilarious? Several content creators who are sick of being ripped off have been filing copyright complaints against some of the most egregious offenders, and some of those offenders have been seeing sanctions for their theft…which they then turn around and manipulate into some fantasy story about how they’re being persecuted by republican shadow ops. No, fool, you’re not being persecuted because you’re liberal, you’re just finally facing some consequences for being a damned thief.
I'm really tired of being treated as though I should be happy to "get the exposure" when someone swipes one of my images and posts it on their own wall without any kind of credit or link back. I have images that have been liked and shared hundreds of thousands of times...and I've got 621 "likes" on this page. Putting a watermark on the images doesn't work and probably does more harm than good - it gives the thieves an excuse to say "why should I link to you or share directly from your page, your link is in the image."
The only reason people get away with that crap is because *you help them do it.* Every time you share a link from one of those pages, you help them do it. Every time you share an image on one of those pages that was stolen directly or plagiarized from another page (or in some cases both, such as this one: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151080713381275&set=pb.177486166274.-2207520000.1349352261 which was first plagiarized from an original graphic over at Whiskey And The Morning After, and THEN stolen by Being Liberal from the plagiarist), you're rewarding thieves and liars and taking money out of the pockets of the people who actually *create* these images.
I'm not a garage band. I'm not some guy who changes oil 50 hours a week and writes about politics in my spare time. *This is what I do.* It's what I've done for years. It's what I chose to go to college to learn how to do more effectively, taking on what will eventually be something between a tenth and a quarter of a *million dollars* of inescapable debt to do so...and I've got to take on a job changing trash bags and playing around with paper bags full of used feminine hygiene products for 110% of minimum wage, driving myself into the ground and putting my grades at huge risk, because instead of my work building traffic for my site it's building traffic for other people's.
My story is not unique. Many of us who create content have spent years honing our craft and thousands of hours creating work that ends up serving the interests of profiteers while we struggle just to afford the tools we use to do the work.
All I, or anyone who does creative work, is asking is that you stop propping up the sandbaggers and start having just a *little* bit of care and discretion in what and how you share.
Why is that so much to ask? We put hundreds of hours into creating this work that you enjoy so much…is it really so outrageous to ask you to spend 30 seconds to track down the original piece and SHARE it, instead of stealing it or promoting a page that has stolen it?
This is why there’s no “independent media” in this country – because the audience refuses to support it, even when it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. The ability to set that right is in your hands.
Edit, 5am Oct 05. I really feel like I should add here that while there’s a lot of frustration involved in this whole situation and some of that has come out in the language I’ve used, most page owners who are sharing improperly are not, in my opinion, doing so out of any deliberate intent to steal or jack people around or make money from other people’s work, but simply out of lack of awareness how different sharing methods have an effect on those who create content.
It’s not my intent to make people feel bad for simply not knowing any better. It is my intent to help people understand why this matters, and what they can do to help set things in order. This is a very new area of concern, one that’s evolving daily. Two years ago, most of us weren’t really thinking about this. But over time, we’ve seen pages get really huge using our work, while a lot of us end up stuck in the background. In some cases, as I’ve outlined above, this behavior is deliberate, and in those cases yeah, screw those people. But in most cases, it’s just a matter of educating well-intentioned folks who are, as one page owner put it, just want to share and learn and have fun.
It makes me sad that some page owners are seeing this and going “forget it, I’m not going to keep making pages.” That’s exactly what nobody wants to happen. These pages are a powerful tool for positive social change, and if we let negative feelings about this stuff to drive people out of the pool, nobody wins – most importantly, the people who read our messages.
This is an important issue, and one that needs refining and a lot of working together and mutual understanding and trust. Please, let’s focus on that and work on establishing some common ethical guidelines/conventions, rather than getting bogged down in bickering and negativity.