No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.*

Today I encouraged a friend on Facebook to credit the artist when posting a copyrighted image. It’s just a little quest that I have. Yah I know you found it on a site, or another friend shared it first, but I don’t care. I located the artist and posted the link to their work. To note, anything an artist creates is automatically protected by copyright law. It does not need a little c with a circle that can be easily obliterated anyway.


So. A person decided to comment on my actions. Since Facebook comments are in the public domain, I will share what this person wrote: “I realize people break copyright laws all the time and that is not right. That said, I do think most of these little thingies which we share are made by people intending for you to share them and are not expecting to be credited.”

Okay, I’ll break in here. Really, thingies? Thingies? Egad. Obviously this commenter doesn’t have much respect for the art that she feels it is okay to steal.

“And honestly, all this one says is ‘Brian’….” Me again. Yes, that’s the artist’s moniker for his very large portfolio of syndicated cartoons, owned by Hallmark and well, copyrighted. I looked him up. But I’m jumping ahead.

“I have no clue how you found who did it.” Here’s what you do, if you have a spare 60 seconds between Facebook postings, tweets, and texts: copy the image and plunk it into Google’s image search. 90% of the time, it will pop up all over the place, because it’s been *shared* over and over again and usually you’ll find the artist’s name. If not, type in “copyright” and you’ll usually find the copyright owner’s name. Easy. Okay now back to our commenter:

“If I have to decipher who the artist is and look them up on each thing like that, i will not bother sharing at all. And I suspect most of these people would just as soon you share their work. That’s why they made it.” Oh yes! We create art to give away. We work at Walmart during the day (and the night shift on Thanksgiving) so that we can afford to create art for you to enjoy and share with no credit and without a single penny of compensation. In fact, a lot of sites take our art and add a few thousand other images! Their website or blog becomes so popular that they can sell ads and make money! Isn’t that great?

No, it is not. But yes, it is true that many artists share their art without expecting monetary gain. But it’s their choice. I post funny sayings (in the public domain) with photos of my cat and dog and welcome people to share, and some do (feel free to share the one enclosed here). It is also true that illustrators share their creations via their websites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc.; it’s how they attempt to get exposure and maybe make a living. If they invite you to share their images, they appreciate that you credit them. Maybe even link their website or store where someone who likes what they see can purchase cards, prints, calendars, t-shirts, books, and the like.

The reality is that when you post these “thingies” on your blog, Facebook page, twitter account or website and do not give credit where it belongs, you are taking the credit. You get the *likes* when it is the artist who earned them. But sadly, based on the following from the commenter, few people care. “I don’t think it’s wrong to look people up and credit them if you are inclined to do so, but I’m not sure most people will take that time.”

I guess I’m not most people.

*Clare Boothe Luce

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