by: Kara Brook
I’m an encaustic painter who enjoys sharing what I have learned as I develop my own skills. I’ve found there’s a lot of information on the web, specifically video trailers often linked to a video or online class that sometimes carries a bigger price tag than it’s worth.
A few months back, I traveled the corners of the web and found a fairly good forty-five minute demonstration on a particular encaustic technique that would be interesting for my community. The material had been previously recorded at a conference and then posted on Vimeo by the local PBS station. I watched it at least a few times and decided to write an article on my website to further explain aspects of the demonstration that weren’t very clear.
I don’t get paid for any of this. There are no revenue streams associated with my website. I do this from my heart because I love what I’m doing and would love to build a community of fellow artists who are as passionate as I am about sharing their discoveries on encaustic technique.
One evening, a few days after the article published, I received an email from an attorney. The artist featured in the video went to a lawyer and had him write me a cease-and-desist letter that stated: “I was using an unauthorized video and that the use of this tape [content] has caused his client potential loss of income and other damages made more grievous by comments and pictures of his training techniques and work.” He then gave me 24 hours to remove it from my site.
So what did I learn from this?
Do not post anything that is the creative property of another artist without their permission. Otherwise unassuming artists (like me) will unknowingly link to it and hold it in high regard.
The web is specifically designed to make it as easy as possible to share online content whether it’s yours or someone else’s. People love to share images, stories, articles, and tutorial videos – sharing is the lifeblood of the online world.
If you are planning on sharing other people’s content online, don’t simply assume that it’s okay. Everyone is different and not everyone wants their content to go “viral”.
At the same time, if you are an artist, writer, photographer, or content creator — it is your responsibility to make it clear on your website whether or not you want other people to share your content online.
If you’re an artist and you occasionally teach at conferences or schools:
If your video ends up on the web even after you’ve done all this, contact the person who published the link or embedded video and ask them to please remove the video because it’s your property and because you’re asking them nicely to remove it. The cardinal rule in life is to treat others as you want to be treated.
If the other party is really causing you damage and financial loss after you make an honest effort to communicate then indeed, after you try to work things out by being a good communicator if there are real issues, then indeed go to your lawyer and send a letter, but realize that once you send that letter you can’t undo it, and these situations often end up costing more of your soul and your pocketbook than you could imagine.
The moral of the story here is simply to follow the “Golden Rule”. Fellow artists, gather ‘round so we can sing “Kumbaya”. We are a brotherhood and sometimes all we have is each other. If we can’t work things out among ourselves, then we’re no better than the rest of the world, and the rest of the world is certainly not nearly as interesting and enjoyable as we are. We have a responsibility to communicate with one another like civil and even loving adults.
How often do you share images, articles, videos, or content online even when you’re not sure if you are legally allowed? Does it make a difference whether that content was created by a company or an individual?
Do you have a clearly written notice on your website explaining what exactly your visitors are allowed and not allowed to do with your content?
When do you feel that it’s okay to share someone else’s content on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest?
Image courtesy of Mae Chevrette
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