Yesterday I posted a question to Facebook asking those that take images from my FB page and repost them to their own FB pages, why they do that instead of just using the share function built into Facebook. I was surprised at some of the responses to this post. I was accused of selfishness and a few other things. My point wasn’t to impose unreasonable limitations on viewers or to make accusations questioning the character of those doing this. On the contrary, I clarified that I don’t think those people have wrong motives. This swiping of images is just a common practice in this digital age that most have not thought about concerning how it impacts the creators of online content. So here is my case for how taking images in this manner hurts not just me, but any online content creator.
Think of my FB page as an art gallery. I want people to come to my gallery, enjoy it and tell others so that they can come to my gallery too. Copying my cartoons and reposting them is like taking my art out of my gallery and then making your own gallery with my art in it so that people will go there instead. People still see my art, but they stop coming to my gallery. My gallery stops growing.
Social media creates a web that grows and benefits the creator of the original content. When an image or video is taken and reposted, those benefits now go to you, and cease for the creator of the content. The benefits have in effect been stolen from the creator.
Here is a list of some of those benefits:
1. Sharing cartoons and other images by using the FB share feature creates a link that makes it very easy for the viewer to go to the page of the creator. One click is all it takes. Without this link most viewers will not go to the trouble of finding the creator’s FB page. Too much work.
2. These shares are recorded by Facebook and count towards the positive record of the creator’s FB page. These stats matter.
3. The number of shares are displayed on the creators FB page and provide encouragement that the cartoon is seen and being enjoyed by many. These numbers provide a gauge of how the image is doing. “Likes” are good. “Shares” are great!
4. These shares help the number of fans or followers to a given FB page to grow, which is the desire of any content creator.
To further make the point of these benefits, here's a very nicely written article from another content creator.
I don’t charge for the online use of the cartoons. I want them to be shared without cost so they will be shared as much as possible. Some artists do charge for their art to be used and make part of their living by doing so. See this issue from their perspective.
Years ago, Far Side creator Gary Larson saw his cartoons being copied and posted all over the web before social media got going like it is today. This upset him as he saw it as a loss of control of his creation. He wrote this letter to try to stop this activity:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
I’m walking a fine line here. On the one hand, I confess to finding it quite flattering that some of my fans have created web sites displaying and / or distributing my work on the Internet. And, on the other, I’m struggling to find the words that convincingly but sensitively persuade these Far Side enthusiasts to "cease and desist" before they have to read these words from some lawyer. What impact this unauthorized use has had (and is having) in tangible terms is, naturally, of great concern to my publishers and therefore to me — but it’s not the focus of this letter. My effort here is to try and speak to the intangible impact, the emotional cost to me, personally, of seeing my work collected, digitized, and offered up in cyberspace beyond my control. Years ago I was having lunch one day with the cartoonist Richard Guindon, and the subject came up how neither one of us ever solicited or accepted ideas from others. But, until Richard summed it up quite neatly, I never really understood my own aversions to doing this: "It’s like having someone else write in your diary," he said. And how true that statement rang with me. In effect, we drew cartoons that we hoped would be entertaining or, at the very least, not boring; but regardless, they would always come from an intensely personal, and therefore original perspective. To attempt to be "funny" is a very scary, risk-laden proposition. (Ask any stand-up comic who has ever "bombed "on stage.) But if there was ever an axiom to follow in this business, it would be this: be honest to yourself and — most important — respect your audience. So, in a nutshell (probably an unfortunate choice of words for me), I only ask that this respect be returned, and the way for anyone to do that is to please, please refrain from putting The Far Side out on the Internet. These cartoons are my "children," of sorts, and like a parent, I’m concerned about where they go at night without telling me. And, seeing them at someone’s web site is like getting the call at 2:00 a.m. that goes, "Uh, Dad, you’re not going to like this much, but guess where I am. " I hope my explanation helps you to understand the importance this has for me, personally, and why I’m making this request. Please send my "kids" home. I’ll be eternally grateful.
I am not going that far, although some have reacted as if I did. I LOVE when people share my cartoons. They become partners in ministry with me by doing so. All I’m asking is to keep the benefits that I and other content creators should have when our cartoons, images and videos are shared. Please use the “share” button that Facebook has provided to do the sharing. If you also want to copy my cartoons to your computer to look at later offline, that’s fine. No problem there. I have a huge and growing collection of digital art images myself. But whenever possible, if I want to share an image online, I go out of my way to at least try to link it back to the source.
I hope that this information has been helpful to you and I thank you for your consideration in this matter.