I recommend that you look at all three links.I decided to write this post just in case readers have missed the discussions on Facebook.
So many examples in one week are shocking, but that wasn't all. In another discussion, an artist asks if she can copy poems from the Internet to accompany her paintings. Well thank goodness she asked. No, no, no you can't copy poems from the Internet to accompany your paintings without permission from the author.
In another example, I saw online, a jeweler was looking for examples of poems posted online to write on her jewelry. Shocking! No can't put other people's poems on your jewelry. Write your own poems!
More than anything, I think we are witness to the growing pains in the "Age of the Internet." We have access to an abundance of information and images. It is easy to take, borrow or copy, when driven by the "desire for attention" and with access readily at our fingertips. It is easy to imagine the lure of appearing to be better, more perfect, beyond the ordinary, without hours of toil... if we copy.
Responsibility rests with each and every one of us to understand that ideas need to come from the inside, not the outside, and certainly not the Internet. And whenever we see copycat behavior, each of us should raise awareness and help our community "take notice."
In honor of the "all souls" season, I couldn't help but resurrect an issue from an earlier post.
The craft world is being sucked into a vampire movie. The cast of characters are being overwhelmed by zombies sucking the life blood of the craft's tradition of creativity, quality, and mastery of skills. We are catering to an economy increasingly filled with copycat workshops and "me-too" tutorials that erode ethical behavior and diminish respect for original work, uniqueness, creativity, and intellectual property.
How about THIS story? See if it sounds familiar to you? Names have been removed to protect the innocent and the guilty, but I do have permission to share the story.
A response to a post on ?????:
A previous "blog post struck home. I began teaching out of economic necessity, then wrote my first book simply to have published proof of my right to be intellectually associated with the development of my specialized techniques. These techniques are now being devoured by the crafting world. Only one person labels her work stating from whom she learned the technique (from my book), but others don't and simply copy my work."
"And then there are people who not only learn the technique from my book but even copy the workshop format that I described on my blog."
"At long last I am in a position to sell my work through appropriate venues and so am planning to retreat from teaching. I've met some lovely people through workshops, but a lot of vampires too -- such as those who teach my technique the following week after they get home from my workshop, and then ask if I have any printed handouts."
"Then there's a person from (city, state, country) who even takes my words and represents them as hers (as well as using my technique for spectacular financial gain). All this is only the tip of the iceberg."
Unfortunatley, the basic thread of this story is becoming more common -- the merchandising of making exploits new technologies and brings in fresh blood, but comes at a cost as well.
Publishers and books on craft media are increasingly suggesting to include instructions and tutorials. Exciting, interesting, or innovative work is no longer enough to assure sufficient sales.
The new D.I.Y. and experiential economy is a double edged sword. The crafty scene creates new opportunity for a larger portion of the population to buy into the romance of "craft" and the joy of making. Great news for some venues.
Yet, I feel some disappointment that this increased interest in craft is not generating a rising tide for mastering craft skills, innovation, and signature artistic voice. I am particularly concerned about "ring-a-day" projects and weekend "by-the-numbers" tutorial copies. Are we sucking our own life blood from craft or giving it a transfusion?
At first I thought this technology enabled popularity was interesting and a growth of a new market for craft, but now I am not so sure. It seems that the only thing that craft has sold is the romance of making.
We are not developing a new audience for buying our work. Instead we are developing a craft economy of wanna-be artists "I love your work and want to make one for myself" along with crafty people selling their work at bottom prices to recover their costs.
but, I will still applaud those dedicated to careful development of an artistic voice that has something to say.
For some months, I have been appalled by the name calling, swearing, belligerent, and deliberately inflammatory comments that often arise in online discussions. The bitterness, rancor, devaluation, and harsh judgements appear in multiple locations, and in different networks.
Randy Cohen in his book BE GOOD observed that a "savage response" solidifies disagreement, makes enduring enemies, changes nobody’s thinking, garners no dinner invitations."
Cohen continues: "And so eventually I forsook the pleasure of the punch-up for another strategy: a soft answer turneth away wrath.” He says: “I began ignoring the tone of even the angriest e-mails and responding courteously to the sense of it. Just as an experiment. Often, even the author of a barbarous e-mail would then reply politely. Sometimes he’d apologize for his initial intemperance. My first, unworthy, thought, I’d hit upon a cunning way to make my tormentor feel guilty while I seized the moral high ground. Brilliant!”
“My second thought was to recall that Lincoln had invoked something similar in March of 1861, in his First Inaugural Address, in regard to a vastly graver conflict, urging “Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” and appealing to “the better angels of our nature.” Even for something as modest as an e-mail [or online] argument, that’s excellent advice.
Endorsement is not necessary, but if you agree with this post about online discussion etiquette consider sharing it on your social network, adding your own ideas in the comments, or adopting it as your policy. Politely,
Martin says: "I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the unmerciful, self-anointed experts on either end of the spectrum who think nothing of dragging someone else down publicly and having their buddies cheer them on to boot. This is called bullying in my book and it really has to stop!"
Read her entire post by clicking on the title above.
Below is a quote from Weltman's post: "If you are making things for yourself and/or friends and not selling it, people look upon that with more grace, since you’re not trying to profit from another artist’s ideas. But once money and the marketplace enters into the quotient, everything changes. And collectors can get really annoyed if they discover what they bought, thinking it was a fresh voice, was in fact copying or at least an obvious derivative of another artist’s work."
"Moreover, and even more important for you as you go forward, if you’re stopping at a place where your art is obviously imitative, then you’re selling yourself short by stopping before you’ve found your own voice in your art."
Just like creating fine wine, creating good work, finding your own voice and cultivating a healthy, innovative, craft marketplace all require time.
A craft marketplace filled with derivative work does not present the consumer with the best of media, or the best of a maker.
In addition to the collector's regret if purchased items are "derivative of another artist’s work" (which will likely to become public knowledge), the maker is selling prematurely before their time. Once an artist or maker enters the marketplace, the consumer ends up having a profound influence on your work.
I say this with the voice of experience, not judgement. Every time you sell work, no matter where, or at what level, the customer requests bigger, smaller, less expensive, and more or less they want to include their ideas. I'd say this happens 80% of the time. It takes a a lot of core strength to remember who you are, and why you make something to resist the lure and influence of ustomers/clients/collectors requests. Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander Model: Stephanie Reisfeld
Here is a real life story: I have been creating my work in a signature style and technique for 30+ years and yet, a well known gallery that I have worked with for many years approached me because a "collector" wanted an example of my work. They then proceeded to tell me exactly how big it could be, and that it had to have pictures of a particular animal on it. Does anyone see the irony of a collector wanting an artist's work and then telling the artist what to make?
Part of the BAD in the AGE of the Internet is the "Lack of substantive critique online." We have entered into what I am calling "the world of Like." I love the potential of social media, but I am concerned about "LIKE"ing. LIKE, like, Like -- is that all there is?
What is the definition of "like"?
LIKE: verb Find agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory.
LIKE: adverb Used in speech as a meaningless filler or to signify the speaker's uncertainty about an expression just used.
LIKE: a button on Facebook [fill in your own definition here, and then LIKE yourself]
How can the online community rise above a culture of "LIKE" that incessantly pushes the button of feel good compliments and superficial pats on the back. One response for all occasions . . . push a button.
Taking this one step further, what happens when we lose the interpersonal discussions, debates, and interactions? How can we honestly convey any nuance of opinion, which aspects or parts appeal to us and which do not? How can we experiment, learn, and grow if the only feedback is 20 "likes" versus 31 "likes"?
Should we be concerned about swapping "LIKES" just to get a feel good "LIKE" in return? Is this a parallel to addiction behavior? Do we understand the "Persuasive Power of 'Like'"?
"The World of Like" is all about temporary "feel good" feelings, but it is costing us depth, authenticity, and respect for diversity. We need to build our social networks on more than the lowest common denominator.
I firmly believe that honest discussion and substantive interaction can elevate the
field. How can we maintain a culture of growth in the Internet Age? How can we address difficult topics such as ethical and legal issues?
I found this book Be Good by accident at the library, and ever since I opened the book it is hard to put it down.
Why? Randy Cohen writes about challenging ethical dilemmas, exploring a wide range of issues, but cuts right to the core offering a clear recommendation with a delightful sense of humor.
No wonder about the humor.....he used to write for David Letterman.
BE GOOD is endless entertaining because of Cohen's acerbic wit and sense of humor but he doesn't drift from difficult topics. Chapters include: "Money, Love & Sex, Community, School, Religion, Work, Arts, and Community." That was just a few that I read first. There are many more chapter topics.
In the chapter about "Technology" Cohen is able to
digest many of the issues into one sentence that resonated with me as a
tool that I will keep forever:
"When You injure yourself, that is
unfortunate; when you injure someone else, that is unethical."
about that one statement in regards to the arts and crafts community
before copying instructional materials, content, ideas, or images.
Here is one quote from the "Community" chapter that applies to many ethical and legal issues in the arts and crafts community.
"To lead an ethical life requires us to empathize with other people and ask, 'What circumstances would induce a person to behave this way?' "
This is where discussing the legal and ethical issues and behavior needs to come to the surface, bubble up from the depth of private whispers, and become a construct for a health vibrant craft community. While giving people the benefit of the doubt that they did not understand the impact of their actions.....and then, discuss the ethical use of copyright materials.
Use tutorials and instructional materials for what they were intended….. your personal use.
Do not copy, distribute or share tutorials or instructional materials unless you wrote the content.
Do not sell or exhibit work derived from tutorials, workshops, or books.
Teach only materials for which you are qualified Master, not an imposter.
Be more specific about how books, tutorials and information are to be used ethically and legally.
The ethical and legal problems surfacing are not just limited to one media. I
have heard stories for years, but often lacked the tools for how to address the issues. That is what I think is so helpful about reading Be Good and practice discussing ethics.
In the "wild west" of the internet, search professionals AND Google refer to BAD & UGLY SEO practices as "black hat." Black hat reminds us of the bad guy that wears a black hat in spaghetti westerns (as in this photo above left from the movie "The Good, Bad, and the UGLY").
Black hat in regards to SEO is a person or approach that tries to manipulate search results or computer security.
Google updates its search algorithms to identify BAD & UGLY BEHAVIORS and counters them in a variety of ways including lowered ranking or even removal from search results.
What scares me
is that many artists and makers have been participating in behaviors (such as trading links or duplicate content)
that search engines now consider black hat. Be prepared to avoid reduced page rank.
Remove duplicate content from your website or blog. This includes duplicate page titles , duplicate meta descriptions, and even duplicate descriptions of similar items on your website. Search engines look at duplicate content as a SEO manipulation and 'black hat' practice. If you don't fix duplicate content on your website...the page may be removed from search results.
Remove any content you "copied" from other websites. This is also considered "malicious" duplicate content and it will hurt your visibility in search engine results.
Discussions inspired by this lecture on the ethical and legal boundaries have been all over the internet. Just recently I discovered a post on Search Engine Watch titled,"SEO Guest Blogging vs. Guest Posting - Imagine a World Without Links" using the Good, the Bad, and the UGLY metaphor for SEO professionals about boosting internet visibility.
Following the GOOD path by writing your own original, quality content for your blog or website will benefit you and the craft community. Examples of GOOD content could include an evaluation or review of a workshop, tutorial, instructions or book. Offering insightful opinion that is informative for your audience's path to success.
GOOD practices honor the original source and boost the "authority of the content" on your website or blog.
Link to the original source/website.
Include the name of the artist, author or workshop master.
Provide resources relevant to your content.
References to a magazine publication, or book should include the publisher/volume/date.
Shared images should be small with a link to the original image.
Ask permission before sharing content you did not write.
If you write content - include your contact information so it is easy for others to ask for your permission for future contacts.
What else? Can you add some good suggestions in the comments?
Become a force for good. Good practices include how you post images on Facebook, Pinterest or other social networks. Provide complete information with a link to the original source. Be a force for good by establishing new social mores.
In one of the Harry Potter movies, Dumbledore the wise wizard says: "It is not our abilities that show who we really are, it is our choices."
Of course, Dumbledore is a fictional character, but a character everyone admires. Why? Because he represents courage, perspective, careful reasoning and wisdom. He was willing to be "The Force for GOOD" regardless of political pressure and public opinion.
A book, "As a Man Thinketh", inspired some of my preparation for the lecture. Written in 1902 by James Allen, the writing style is a little old-fashioned but his words merit being read -- and repeated. Here an excerpt:
"Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thought he forges
the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools
with which he builds for himself."
"By the right choice and
true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by
the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends."
“...as they may have been hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness.”
This lecture offers compelling evidence that raising awareness about ethical behavior, even just a little, can have profound impact. After absorbing these insights, it should be clear that not only do our individual choices impact our community, but our community also impacts our choices.
I would like to reiterate that Copyright Law tries to clarify ethical and legal sharing to encourage creativity. Proper sharing expands our communication and enlightens our community. In contrast, unethical and illegal sharing dilutes and diminishes the value of our collective efforts.
The lively debate and comments about "sharing" reminded me that the concept of Fair Use under copyright law has already addressed many of the issues under debate.
Fair Use almost always involves a similar or derivative work that copies elements of the original work. An understanding of Fair Use can help clarify some situations that may appear to be gray areas - and instead frame them more clearly as black and white.
A few years ago I wrote a post about Fair Use Guidelines
which concisely itemizes five key factors regarding Fair
Use of copyrighted materials.
To claim Fair Use in making a derivative work (or before posting, sharing or selling a derivative work), ASK these questions:
Is the new version transformative? If the derivative work borrows ideas or content from another person's work, book, or instructional materials, is it transformative? The new version must look less like the original source and more like a NEW IDEA or NEW WORK.
Could the new version be confused with the original source? There should be no confusion between the original version and the new version. Consumers especially should be able to instantly distinguish your artwork/tutorial as something different from the original copyrighted work. Comparing both versions, if there is any possibility that consumers would be confused about who is the originator and who is the copycat....this is a copyright violation.
Are you selling the idea, art, craft or information? Commercial intent or financial compensation are significant, often deciding factors in determining Fair Use. Copying an idea or information for your own personal use is permissible under the definition of Fair Use. However, selling the derivative work or idea, or receiving financial benefit, violates the principles of Fair Use. Even if you are distributing the copied work for FREE, but claiming or implying that it is yours, also violates Fair Use.
Is there an implied sponsorship or endorsement? "Your artwork should make no suggestion that the copyright owner endorses or sponsors the artwork/ information." An example: "_______( famous artist)_____ is my hero, I ’m sure that he won't mind if I copy this idea and share it with you" is an implied endorsement. This is NOT acceptable under Fair Use. Before posting information or content, it is best to ask permission, and then cite your source clearly as in "This information was provided with permission from __________."
Ideally, Fair Use Guidelines can be applied to art/craft and writing (including sharing of information or instructions). Most Fair Use is simply common sense. Fair Use not only permits sharing but is intended to encourage a wide range of possibilities. In other words, Be ethical AND Be creative!
There seems to be some confusion in the arts and crafts community about ownership of information. Previous posts discussed sharing information as an ethical issues, but in fact, it is also a legal issue discussed and defined by the Supreme court on numerous occasions.
"A common misconception by many people who purchase content, e.g., music, videos, images, photographs, is that they own the rights to that work. They think since they paid money for it, that they can do anything they want with it. WRONG!"
"The copyright holder is the one who creates the content, unless it is a work for hire. The purchaser is just one of many, who bought the book, rented the movie, or licensed the images from the copyright holder or the 3rd party licensee. Because you bought a book, does not mean you can make copies of that book."
"To be clear the copyright holder and the purchaser of products are not one in the same."*
I hope that this information has made the legal issue very clear.
If a person purchases a DVD of instructional materials, they have purchased access to the information for their personal use. This information may not be copied or duplicated. You own the DVD not the information.
If you have a subscription to a magazine, you have purchased the privilege of owning the magazine. You do not own the information. You may not copy the information. You only own the digital or print copy of the magazine.
These principles also apply to books. The information is for your personal use. Duplicating the lessons, tutorials or images for selling as an object or workshop is beyond the boundaries of "personal use."
This issues surrounding copyright are clear. Sharing content outside of a properly attributed citation is not legal or ethical without permission from the copyright holder.
I know a person who worked in a paint store for a short time. As a newly hired salesperson, he was positive, enthusiastic, well intentioned, and loved helping people. But it didn't work out because he was color blind.
Surprising isn't it - a color blind person attempting to give advice in a paint store. It is common sense that giving quality advice requires not only an ability to "see" the material, but a
foundation of experience or level of expertise to give credible advice. He was not just color blind, he was also "blind" to how he misrepresented himself and his proficiency.
Similar things are happening in the craft world with "workshop imposters".
Imposters who copy and publish content from someone else's workshop.
Imposters who offer to teach repeat workshops based on someone else's workshop.
The most common example is the Imposter who attends a workshop from an expert and then copies the workshop content or ideas as their own. They take the information created by the original tutor, then copy and publish the content without permission or citation on their own blog or website.
Often these are positive, enthusiastic, and well intentioned
people, but they are blind to the ethical and legal
ramifications of their Imposter actions. They may rationalize that they
are trying to "help" their community, but they are also stealing
content and falsely misrepresenting their expertise. Some even draft articles for magazines based almost entirely on content
copied from workshops that they have attended.
"My workshop was booked almost a year in advance and twenty-two excited
students were setting up. I took a break from setting out my samples and
demo materials to see why most of the class had gathered around one of
Behold.... steps 10-25 of the workshop I was
teaching that weekend were displayed step-by-step in three full color,
two page spreads in a magazine article.
It turns out that one of
my students (from a previous workshop) had taken it upon herself to
present it to the magazine as "original content" since she had added
three more steps at the end. Using the same title as her magazine
article, this same person had launched a new web site “so others could
enjoy this new form of exercises to increase your speed and strength.”
Now, that is UGLY!
I explained the situation to the workshop participants and let
everyone know they were welcome to "cancel" their weekend workshop
registration. Everyone stayed, with the realization that they would learn
much more from me during a two-day hands on workshop than from a second-hand
The second type of Workshop Imposter goes even further by offering to "teach" a workshop based on someone else's workshop. However, in addition to the unethical and illegal behavior, they lack the depth of experience to give a quality workshop
experience and diminish the gainful opportunities for the original workshop tutor.
Leila Bidler says: "If I pay someone to teach me poetry I expect them to know a whole lot
about poetry and to know the great poets that came before. Same when it
comes to Polymer Clay: if someone wants to teach they should know who
came before them - it's not like we're talking about "ages ago" we still
do have all the inventors and pioneers among us."
Andy Cooperman had a student take his workshop, and then called up to request permission to teach this same workshop. The student properly asked permission. That is "good". The idea was "ugly".
Here is how Cooperman responded: "It is my
greatest hope and goal for students to generalize from the specific
instance or technique that I have given them and to more broadly apply
the information to other situations. I do not expect, however, for what I have taught to be offered as a workshop by someone who has taken mine. I offer the information for personal use."
I think most workshop masters would respond similarly.
As a community, we need to respect the effort expended and expertise required to master the skills, develop a workshop and the time and logistics devoted to preparation and teaching. Otherwise the core values of our community become undermined.
We should honor and reward the original authors and makers and support the incentives and professional recognition that motivates them to create and provide top quality workshops.
In response to a previous post,Kathy Loomis posed a question.
"Suppose the tutorial in question appeared not in a magazine but on somebody's blog. Do you also disapprove of people sharing that info? If so, why?"*
For me, Kathy's question raises at least three issues:
To answer the question, I will briefly address each issue.
The first issue involves . Ethical sharing adheres to copyright law and respects ownership of original content. By this I mean that original content is owned by the author - and taking other people's property without permission is unethical. Information and images are property whether on the Internet, in a gallery, or in a studio. For example, while anyone can view content in a gallery, museum, or artist's studio, a visiting viewer would never take the property for themselves without asking. Just because the information and images are on the web (and easily copied) doesn't mean the author has given permission to viewers to copy and take it for their own use.
Ethical sharing of content from a blog requires permission from the author. So if you want to share the information, ASK first - or write your own original content (e.g. a review) and link to the original source.
The second issue involves .
Since 2012 Search engines began to devalue duplicate content. Google and other search engines are increasingly recognizing that duplicate content is cluttering search results and of diminished value to the users. Consequently, search algorithms devalue or even remove duplicate content.
If content from "BLOG A" is copied and pasted in "BLOG B", this is duplicate content. This means that search engines will likely devalue BLOG B since the copied content has a later date. Or worse, both sites will be devalued.
Search engines might also remove the page or the web site from search results completely. A very big penalty. The future of the Internet is all about original content. More about this issue in future posts.
MY RECOMMENDATION: If you find information that you deem worth sharing ... write a review or write your own opinion about why this information is so interesting. Create your own original content and link to the original source.
The third issue looks at . What is the motivation behind sharing? Some people rationalize copying and sharing as a "service" to their community to help disseminate knowledge. I think this rationale is misguided and will undermine our communities in the long run. It is highly discouraging for original content creators when their property is copied and distributed without permission. Instead, our community should honor original content creators with appropriate recognition and respect by linking to and crediting the original author.
In very practical terms, why copy information that is already on the Internet? There is no need
to duplicate information to facilitate sharing. The original blog is
readily available, so link to it.
In contrast, the act of copying information and re-posting all or part of it as one's own content is behavior that I can not comprehend or rationalize at all.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Link to the
original source instead of copying. Citing a quote with attribution and a link is also completely acceptable which generates recognition and traffic to the original source.
This practical, ethical, and legal action honors original content while providing the best search engine ranking for both your web site and the original author's.
The issue is NOT a prohibition on sharing of information.
THE ISSUE is about SHARING INFORMATION while honoring the original content in the most respectful, ethical, and legal manner by linking to the original source.
But there is a situation that I didn't consider, didn't even think about... until it was brought to my attention after the lecture... "The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing."
Here are the examples:
A guild member takes a workshop, then comes home to show everyone else the workshop's techniques, tips and tricks.
Guild members distributing copies of handouts that they did not create or own.
A member demos a skill learned in a magazine tutorial.
A guild hires a copycat workshop instructor instead of hiring the original innovator of a skill or technique.
Ironically, all this sharing is usually rationalized as "helping" each other. But with some reflection, this "feel good" cloak of generosity is concealing ethical, legal and moral issues that, in the long run, have an impact on our community.
Bringing attention to "The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing" is NOT an effort to prohibit the sharing of information. This is about knowing the difference between appropriate sharing of your own original content in contrast to the unethical infringement or appropriation of material created by other people.
This Guild of unauthorized Sharing is also NOT about enthusiast vs. professional. This is a standard that needs to be applied at all levels, with all organizations small to big.
1) Unauthorized sharing misrepresents to the members regarding who is the "master" original author. Members do not learn the ethical boundaries of copyright and intellectual property.
2) Guild members teaching content from workshops without the experiences and understanding from the master teacher offer a sub-optimal 2nd hand educational experience from the original workshop.
3) The master teacher, or innovator looses revenue when guild members reiterate even small portions of their workshop. The impact is if they can not make enough money from their efforts, they may discontinue teaching, writing their books, creating their handouts or stop sharing their technical innovations. 4) If handouts from a workshop are distributed at guild events outside of the workshop setting the master has lost future workshop participants. This is unfortunate as the master workshop teacher has earned appropriate
compensation and respect for their efforts in developing these materials. The impact is lost revenue for both the workshop teacher, and the workshop sponsor such as your guild. I hear that some workshop teachers have stopped creating handouts for exactly these reason.
5) Guild demos based on magazine tutorials means that the magazine has lost potential subscribers. If they do not sell enough subscriptions, they will discontinue publishing.
I am hoping that our shared goal is a vibrant and innovative craft community supported by the artists and makers that care about the future growth of their media.
Frankly, I don't think I understood this problem and the impact so well until I heard about so many examples.
Many people have opened my eyes. "Suddenly I see why... this means so much to me."
The important issue is that EVERYONE needs to "ASK." This is an issue about respect, not enforcement.
Ask the author, workshop, teachers, blog writer before sharing information from their blog, web site, tutorial, magazine or workshop.… ASK, start a conversation, find your answers.
Sometimes WE need to ASK Ourselves: Am I going to turn a blind eye to inappropriate sharing of a tutorial by someone who is not the author? Or am I going to ASK that person, "Has the author given permission to distribute this information?"
When our Facebook friend shares a handout from a workshop, can we ASK, "Has the author granted permission to share this handout from the workshop?"
The value of ASK is that the answer will guide your direction. This is about an ethical foundation within our community. It's time to examine the issues and consider the long term consequences.
ASK to obtain permission before distributing someone
Contact the author with a quick email, Facebook message or phone call to clarify a situation or even open new opportunities for you and the
If we ASK each other about a question,
problem, or ethical issue, huge misunderstandings and mistakes can be
If you are afraid to ASK the author, or teacher then ASK yourself, "Why?" The answers may be even more profound.
ASK Yourself: What is my motivation for sharing information? If you attended a
terrific workshop, or discovered a very informative tutorial, that is great to hear, but it doesn't give us permission to copy the content and
distribute material that we do not own or create ourselves. Instead,
it could be an opportunity to follow up with the author. ASK before sharing their information with a
On the contrary, ever since the lecture went public, more people are "coming out" and revealing more examples of BAD and UGLY behavior.
Perhaps some don't realize the impact of their behavior.We all slide into some patterns. We all make mistakes. But we can also learn and correct our behavior without placing blame.
Every single person can BE a "Force" for "GOOD", substituting alternatives to the "BAD" and "UGLY" behaviors in all media.
Perhaps some don't realize the impact of their behavior. We all slide into some patterns. We all make mistakes. But we can also learn and correct our behavior without placing blame. Every single person can BE a "Force" for "GOOD", substituting alternatives to the "BAD" and "UGLY" behaviors in all media.
In this post, I will share a condensed list of BAD and UGLY behaviors and possible alternatives. (They are listed below in no particular order, and not a comprehensive list.)
The problems are extensive and multifaceted, but there are persistent examples of BAD & UGLY. I welcome your stories and alternatives which can be added to this post. Please consider submitting an example with an alternative in the comments or send it privately through my contact page on my website.
UGLY: Pirating & selling of DVD's for which the original author no longer gets royalties or revenue.
ALTERNATIVE: Purchase DVD's from the original author or a legitimate authorized seller.
UGLY: Purchasing a DVD and then sharing the techniques direct from the DVD on your blog or social network without permission from the original author.
ALTERNATIVE: Sharing information benefits the field only when it is shared with both ethical and legal foundation in mind. If the information on the DVD is superb, then write a review and link to the original source for the DVD.
Or share information after obtaining permission of the author, citing the source for the information and citing permission of the author.
The best option is to share information that you created yourself based on your own depth of skill, experience and your own ideas.
UGLY: Translation to another language of chapters and whole books without permission, authorship credit, or revenue to the original author. ALTERNATIVE: Do not buy, share or trade unauthorized copies, or PDF copies of book chapters or books. Inform these unauthorized individuals about ethical behavior. Can you report this incident to the original author or publisher?
UGLY: Public announcements at events, guild meetings or conferences that a person is willing to show everyone how to pirate specific tutorials. ALTERNATIVE: Unethical behavior such as pirating should not be endorsed by organizations. Establish a "higher" standard for your guild, organization or conference that presentations will only be content from the original author or original technical innovator/workshop teacher.
UGLY: A student expressing disappointment that a workshop had been cancelled due to low enrollment, since she already had six people signed up to take the "copied" class from her the next weekend. In a similar ugly, six people chipped in to send one person to the workshop so she could copy the handout and then re-teach the workshop the next weekend. ALTERNATIVE: Do not encourage unethical sharing of workshop demos and materials. This impacts the revenue for the teachers and the sponsor. Preparations for workshop planning, demos and materials require a huge investment from the teacher and the workshop sponsor. Violations of these principle also means that the information may not be available for future workshops because the teachers and sponsors can't afford to arrange future workshops.
UGLY: People taking a workshop so the student can now teach the same technique representing themselves as an expert in the skill. This misrepresents the experience of the teacher.
ALTERNATIVE: Develop a level of mastery in your own area of expertise, skill or technical innovation along with superb marketing and demos based on your own depth of experience.
UGLY: Teaching a workshop based on another author or teachers content. Examples would include teaching a workshop based on a magazine tutorial or a skill you did not develop. This robs the magazine of potential revenue from new subscribers and jeopardizes their future. Teaching a workshop based on other people's innovations is stealing their livelihood after they spent months or years developing the information.
ALTERNATIVE: Develop your own artistic voice, skill or technique. This is when you can honestly represent yourself as a master in your medium.
UGLY: Facebook pages that offer tutorials/books in any media or topic as a free PDF download when they did not write the information themselves, do not own the copyright, and are not authorized by the author.
ALTERNATIVE: Do not participate in these offers. Report these websites to the author and publisher of the original book. Do not share this illegal source with your community. Be an upstanding member of your community and report these unethical offers as a copyright violation.
It is necessary to clarify that I am not against sharing of information. I am speaking out against illegal and unethical sharing of information that was not authorized by the innovator, author, teacher, book, magazine, blogs, websites or publisher.
Citations and quotes for a limited amount of content with a link to the original source is O.K. This would be sharing enough information to pique interest such as a citation for credibility and to warrant further investigation from your reader.
If you care to share with me privately or through the comments, we can all add to this list of BAD or UGLY and ALTERNATIVES.
An invitation to give a keynote lecture is both an opportunity and a responsibility.
From keynote speakers whom I've admired in the past, I felt that a conference lecture should be about discovery and community, addressing broad concepts, and perhaps controversial issues that can resonate in discussions throughout the remaining days of a conference . . . and beyond.
As Seth Godin says: "Respectfully challenging the status quo combined
iterating new ideas is the hallmark of the vibrant tribe."
The theme for the recent International Polymer Clay Association Conference was "Seeking Higher Ground."
A suggestion from the conference organizers was "reaching the next
plateau". In fact, it was suggested that my lecture address the controversial topics of inappropriate, illegal and unethical copying and sharing of information
and more. And I saw a real opportunity to have impact. Why?
These issues are not just limited to one media. I
have heard about similar stories for years, but the problems are growing
exponentially with the Internet, hence the topic of the lecture.
These serious issues pervade the craft community. But too often the elephant in the room is an unspoken concern of being ostracized by one's own community for being outspoken despite the honesty. We should not be afraid to discuss difficult topics.
In the few months prior to this lecture, I leaned on my family, friends, and associates to discuss, debate, and argue the issues to zero in on the key points. We did not arrive at easy agreement, but ultimately, we all felt better informed and more discerning about the issues and the recommendations. The topics still fuel healthy critique.
My goal is a vibrant, self-aware, craft community.
"As a community
of artists (connected through the medium of polymer clay, but not
limited to it), most of us hold certain concepts and values in high
esteem: originality, influence, interpretation, collaboration,
attribution, citation, and permission. I like to think of these as ‘The
Force’ that holds our community together, and most of the time, we not
only benefit from that, we celebrate it. Most of us. Most of the time.
But we also have ‘The Dark Side’: mediocrity, derivative work,
misrepresentation, copying, stealing. These are things we don't like to
talk about, or maybe don’t know how to talk about, but they linger and
have for a very long time, like a cane-slice-covered elephant in the
"This ‘Dark Side’ is something I’ve seen through the
experiences of others, but even more first-hand, I have experienced it
repeatedly in my own career, as an artist, teacher, inventor, and
even when the Force is strong, the Dark Side has an uncanny ability to
disproportionately drain us, tap our time, rob our energy, and derail us
from our creative pursuits, individually and collectively. This is a
Becoming a "Force" for "GOOD" starts with confronting the problems and understanding the causes that lead to them. Writing this lecture about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly forced me to reach beyond the superficial observations to come to grips with the underlying issues more deeply. With continued and extensive discussions, I've realized that the ramifications are even more pervasive than I thought.
But if more of us acknowledge these issues, raise awareness, share links on our Facebook pages or blogs, and strive for excellence, we can all have the power to be a "Force" for "Good."
P.S. All of the images in this post are from the Broken Telephone Project organized by Dan Cormier. Here is what he says: "As artists, we can choose to face these issues and address them in
many different ways. Ultimately, that’s what I wanted to do with my Broken Telephone Project."
CLICK on the images or the link to see all of this exceptional work that proves that inspiration does not result in copycat or derivative work when the maker is speaking with a "singular artistic voice."
The lecture includes four Use tutorials and instructional materials for what they were intended….. your personal use.
Do not copy or distribute tutorials or instructional materials unless you wrote the content.
Do not sell or exhibit work derived from tutorials, workshops, or books.
Be more specific about how books, tutorials and information are to be used ethically and legally.
In future posts I will discuss each recommendation individually, but I what to be sure that everyone has an opportunity to watch this lecture as it evaluates the good of the internet, some bad trends, and a few really ugly behaviors that threaten the healthy growth of crafts.
The question is: Do you think these recommendation reasonable?
Do you think your local arts guild or national organization would support these recommendations?
PLEASE COMMENT if possible. This presentation tackles an issue that affects both aspiring and established makers and artists and needs to be shared, circulated, and discussed throughout the arts and crafts community.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION. If willing, you can easily embed this presentation in your website or blog. SlideShare provides the embedding code in four different sizes (height and width) or a code specifically designed for WordPress. Just click on the EMBED button on SlideShare (above the lecture).
What do you think of digital watermarks and such? I cringe when I see them. Maria Kazalia
This is a good point to bring up during this photography series on ASK Harriete. When you say digital watermarks, I want to focus on the watermarks on images of art or craft -- not about the digital watermarks on STOCK PHOTOS intended to drive purchase of the photo (like the left image).
I wrote about watermarks once before, but I wanted to bring this up again and be very clear. Putting a watermark, icon, signature on top of, over, near, or in the corner of photographic images of art or craft is a huge mistake. Don't do it.
When I see a watermark on a photo, I refuse to try to look through it or past it. The photo is ruined. Instead, I move on. And I believe most people react similarly.
That's my opinion. Now here is a more rational consideration.
The greatest value of posting images onlineis to get more visibility. All of the many possible venues (whether on Facebook, Crafthaus, Flickr, or your own website) help to expose your images to a larger audience. The Internet is based on the exchange of ideas and images, yours included! Based on the concept of the Long tail, the Internet is a fabulous opportunity to enable a widely dispersed audience to find, appreciate, and share your work.
A watermark on a photographic image discourages any blog, web site, writer, or online marketplace from copying and sharing your images. Watermarks disfigure the images. It is akin to putting the images in a virtual closet with the door shut!
Post smaller images (e.g. 200px x 200px x 72dpi). This is not recommended, but it is a better alternative than a watermark on your images.
Use FLASH for your images. FLASH images are more difficult to copy. This is not recommended either. Flash can not be rendered by most phones, or I-PAD type technology. Thus your web site is not viewable online by the new mobile technologies. (A future post will provide more information on this issue.)
Related Post to the watermark issue is when museums post your images on their website, use your images for catalogs, calendars or loaning your artwork to other institutions. In theses examples they would not want a watermarked image. Read about how they handle copyright and images in the post Copyright and a Non-Exclusive License.
Previous posts in the series Side by Side Comparisons of Different Photos:
On November 18th I wrote to Garth Clark via email to thank him for his comments about the previous post on ASK Harriete. We were discussing the issues surrounding the importance of photographic images in creating a dialog and critical discourse within the arts and crafts community.
Many issues surround the use of photographic images. So in an effort to bring this discussion into a more public forum, Garth Clark agreed to a post of our email conversation.
Garth Clark is a noted author and lecturer who has lectured across the U.S. I have listed a few of his many books on the right column of this blog as affiliate links for your convenience.
HARRIETE email text is in black. GARTH Clark's email text is in steel blue.
HARRIETE: Thanks for your comment [on the previous post on ASK Harriete]. I am glad to hear your point of view directly rather than filtered by my notes and memory.
Trying to be organized here …. It seems that there are three issues: Issue#1. Hampering versus encouraging ”legitimate scholarly or critical usage.” Publishing books and articles including images for “legitimate scholarly or critical usage” should definitely be encouraged. This is the reason I wrote the previous post about this topic. The arts and crafts will grow and develop by expanding such discourse. I would like to encourage authors, publishers, artists and makers to all cooperate in this endeavor. We all benefit.
GARTH: Encouragement is not enough. See comments below. It has to be a legal option for the writer.
HARRIETE: Issue #2. Copyright protection and artists’ rights to control images of their work. I could never endorse that artists abdicate their rights of ownership of the work they created. If they don’t see a benefit to themselves or their community for participating in someone's “usage” it is a loss for them. That is their right, whether anyone else agrees with them or not. Yet, I hope that it is clear that in the vast majority of situations, I firmly believe that the artists benefit by granting permission (even without direct payment) and being included in a publication.
GARTH: I agree but with an exemption. My free speech as a critic should enable me to voice my opinion and illustrate the object of my criticism with or without the artist's permission so long as it does not constitute commercial usage. It cannot be "by permission only" because my experience in real life is that artists are into free speech for themselves but not when someone wants to question their work. So to think that they will just cooperate is naïve.
HARRIETE: Issue #3. Use of images for commercial enterprise. While the premise of books and articles may be “legitimate scholarly or critical usage,” my understanding is that someone is selling those publications. Whether or not anyone makes a profit, such use is a commercial enterprise. For example, book publishers sell educational textbooks but are still required to obtain permission to publish copyright images. Even if profit is not the primary motivation, the author or publisher is still benefiting from the use of artists' images in the publication.
GARTH: This defeats the whole purpose. The craft world is so concerned that someone might be slipped a buck or two and they will not. How can criticism be disseminated without someone being paid, a publisher, a critic, a photographer. The point is whether one was making a critical statement about the art or trying to exploit it for profit.
Do you know what a reviewer gets paid by a daily newspaper for a review, $130. In many cases what the writer gets for writing a piece is less than what the artist receives for copyright fees. Current fair usage already mandates limited use of the imagery. If I were to write an entire book on an artist, pro or con, that would be a violation. But if in a text with 200 images I needed to reproduce two photographs that were essential to the critical argument, that is fair usage.
And that does not give wholesale permission for anyone else to use the image thereafter. No primary right has been lost. And it's not that artists use this to control copyright in a fair and open manner but often to control content (i.e. smother dissent with threats of lawsuits). I find that antidemocratic and an affront to the supposed open exchange of the aesthetic experience for which the art world purports to stand.
What this has resulted in is that independent book publishing is on its way out. Over 90% of the books you see on artists today are artist sanctioned volumes (often with fees waived because its to their benefit) that are paid for upfront and in full by their gallery, a sponsor, collector or their estate. Publishers are too scared to cross this line, so all we get now is coffee table PR. Don’t you think something has been lost?
I would warn younger artists in trying this ploy. Publishers simply exchange images for which a fee is requested with those of artists who make no charge. So unless you are crucial to the document, you could find yourself edited out by the accounting department.
But before you get your crafters smock in a twist, bear in mind this applies ONLY to LEGITIMATE critical writings. And there are already some guidelines. Books such as Lark are not critical studies and would not be exempt. I am arguing for a very narrow exemption on the correct side of free speech.
HARRIETE: So an exchange of benefits seems like an opportunity. Let the two parties negotiate. Hopefully, both sides see the mutual benefits of working together (with or without cash compensation), but if they don't agree, both must walk away empty handed. I think it would be heavy handed to "amend the law" to assure that one side always wins.
GARTH: And as so often happens in the arts with “enlightened” legislation to protect the artists such as 5% resale fee to artists, 99% of the benefit goes to the superstars. If you are going to pay for photographs, the bulk of that budget is kept for the Koon's and Hirsch’s of the world because they have the greater bargaining power. (Although Koons was very gracious in allowing me to include his work in my recent Metalsmith piece without cost.)
And it gets worse because in some cases one has to pay the museum that owns the piece, the photographer who shot it, and the artist. Three charges! That bill can come to over $1500 per image! Bear in mind that almost nobody makes big money off art books. So while it may fit into your commercial use bracket, neither the publisher nor the author earns enough for a week in Monaco. And what books do in developing audience for artists is immense. Copyright fees are now strangling the independent book publisher. Major artists will not feel any pain because they self-publish. Lesser artists (financially speaking) will become invisible.
Thanks for giving this subject some air.
HARRIETE to the readers: This discussion is just beginning.
Do you have any comments or questions that you would like to add?
Does this issue impact only the rarefied artist or the entire community?
If you are paid for using images of your work, is your photographer going to expect additional compensation?
I personally wonder who decides what author or document fits into the category of "LEGITIMATE critical writings."
Are we opening a Pandora's box with this discussion or can we arrive at a broad consensus?
It is important for artists to understand the concept of Fair Use so that instead of being intimidated by copyright law, they are inspired by the use of found materials. The concept of Fair Use has a long history and is intended to advance and stimulate creativity. When you use copyrighted material in your work, the finished product must be transformative.
Transformative means that the original use, purpose, or intent of the material has been changed significantly into something substantially different in both appearance and objective. In my work shown here (as an example), the sculpture titled, 3M & m Candy Dispenser, the original tin can packaging for 3M Scotch tape, electrical tape, Scotchgard, and Spray Mount have been re-purposed into a candy dispenser as a pun on the words 3M and m & m candies.
Another example of transformative work is shown (below) from Emiko Oye. On the left are two views of an original Boucheron Necklace designed for Maharajah of Patiela (circa 1928).
On the right, Ms. Oye has recreated the design in LEGOs. She has transformed the original design and made it in her own style. In addition, the LEGOs themselves have been transformed beyond a children's toy into social commentary and a unique appearance.
Further examples of Fair Use under Copyright Law will be continued in the next posts including important points for jewelry artists to consider.
Many people have requested permission to share the content on ASK Harriete. FOR PRINT: You have my permission to share a post for educational purposes in whole or in part as long as you include my name, Harriete Estel Berman, ASK Harriete, the URL for that particular post along with the date of the post, and the date the post was printed.
INTERNET: It is not acceptable to copy an entire post from ASK Harriete on your blog or website. This would be duplicate content on the web. However, it is appropriate to write a review, comment, rebuttal or endorsement and link to the original posts. Same goes with Facebook or any social network. LINK to the original post adding your own original comment or content.