Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Confessions of a Goody Two-Shoes

I admit it. I'm a rule-follower.

In school, when the teacher said, "Do this," and "Don't do that," I stayed in line. Even when I could've gotten away with something. As a teenager, I didn't party. Never even would've occurred to me as a possibility. I didn't push the envelope with the dress code, I didn't use language worse than "crap," I didn't do anything that people seem to think all teenagers did (yes, even in my time, old crone that I am ... note sarcasm).

Sounds like I'd have made a really boring character for a YA novel. But that's beside the point.

This has extended into adult life. I show up to school earlier than required and stay at least until the end of my contract time. I still don't party.

I don't illegally download music or movies.

(Ah, now we're getting closer to my point.)

A couple of issues have sprung up this past week that got me thinking about what a goody two-shoes I am, and with particular significance to writers.

Issue #1: The Ubiquitous Piracy of eBooks

This isn't a new thing. It took a while, but the file-sharing phenomenon that's plagued music and film for years is really catching on in the eBook world.

There are those who say piracy increases sales. A cause-effect relationship there is dubious at best, and I have all kinds of problems with the way the statistics are interpreted by proponents of file-sharing.

Goody Two-Shoes Says: I. Don't. Care. I don't care if something that's wrong both legally and (in my opinion) morally helps my sales. (No, I don't mean that the illegality of something automatically makes it morally wrong. And yes, I had to add that it's my opinion because there are those who think file-sharing is morally right.) I'd rather have poor sales than benefit that way.

What's the right/best way to try to keep piracy under control? That's the tougher question. If you have thoughts, would love to hear them.

Issue #2: The Posting/Pinning of Pics You Don't Own

This one's a hot issue right now. An author was sued for posting a picture on her blog that she didn't have the rights to.

Nope, you can't just find an image through a search engine and post it on your website or blog or pin it on Pinterest. Some images are fair game, free for the taking. Others are flexible, allowing certain uses as long as you meet certain conditions, link back, etc. And others are strictly controlled by the artist, and if you want to use them, you'd better ask and be ready to live with their answer (possibly including payment).

Some of us knew this. Some didn't, which is fine. A lot of us grew up in the internet age, but that doesn't mean we were sufficiently educated in how to properly handle all this intellectual property that's now so easy to access. Now we all know, and I see everyone taking steps to make sure they're only using images properly.

But even as they clean up their blogs, I see some saying, "This is stupid. This makes my life harder."

Goody Two-Shoes Says: So what if it's inconvenient? I mean, really? Visual artists and photographers shouldn't get the same respect we want as authors under Issue #1?

How about instead of grumbling, we direct our energy to educating about artists' rights? Maybe we should talk to the kids in our lives about how the ease of 'copy-paste' doesn't make it right.

Or am I just outdated in this whole idea of following the rules?


Tyson said...

I'm torn on this whole thing, really. The internet does certainly make it easy to take what isn't ours to take. But the line of what is 'right' and what is 'wrong' seems to be skewed, except to an artist. We cannot complain when someone pirates our books if we ourselves are downloading music and films and posting pictures that aren't ours to our blogs or snagging them on pinterest or putting them up on our Facebooks. I don't know. I haven't reached a final verdict, but I'd hate for anyone to feel cheated or stolen off of by me. And so, I'll be more diligent in walking the line.

Anonymous said...

I read your post and my first thought was- "I'm not alone!"

Course I go so far as to follow the speed limit. Other drivers hate me on one-lane roads. But I think we do need to be mindful of of others and the work they put into things. If they'll give it away for free, that's awesome. But if they want to be paid for it, we should take the effort to respect that. People need to earn a living somehow. Feels different on the internet sometimes, but I don't think it actually is any different.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, RC! Piracy is a really big problem, and there's so many people that just don't care. But we should care because it seriously hurts the industries/ individuals we all go to for entertainment, inspiration and enjoyment.

ps. I'm a bit of a Goody Two-Shoes myself ;)