Blog / 2015 / How Uncopyrighting Your Art Can Help You to See People More Clearly

October 19, 2015

A few months ago, I received an email from a new company whose business involves connecting illustrators with people searching for custom art online. I was looking into their web presence, trying to decide if it made sense to sign up for their service, when I came across their Facebook page, which, at the time, featured a short clip taken from one of my drawing videos.

Because I put all my art—my images, my text, and my videos—directly into the public domain, the company could legally grab a portion of my time lapse, remove my voiceover, and publish the resulting clip without crediting me.

That said, legal isn’t the same as ethical, and doing so made this online art agency seem a bit dishonest to me. In particular, I was bothered by the text they put with the video since it implies that the person drawing the goat works with the company or endorses it.

When I explained my discomfort to my contact, they replied that they’d scrubbed all credit from the video specifically because I wasn’t working with them yet: they wanted to use the content to enliven their web presence, but they didn’t want to mislead any potential clients. I told them that, while I understood their logic, using my work in this way wasn’t a solid way to ask me to enter into a relationship. I informed them that I wouldn’t be working with the company.

This is the original video. It’s not heavy on the credit—there’s nothing but the brief title and the Patreon plug at the end to link it back to me really. That said, I won’t lie: coming across an uncredited portion of it being used to sell someone else’s brand did get me a little steamed. Every time my art is copied or used without credit in a new way, I definitely react in the way the copyright paradigm has trained me to react! Credit is important.

Still, I’m glad it happened. It helped me to get over the copyright paradigm that much more, and it allowed me to discover right away that the company and I see things differently, which is vital information when you’re considering partnering with someone.

For more about being an artist who questions copyright, check out my book about why I put my art in the public domain and why other artists might want to as well. You can read it in its entirety for free!


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