I think about copyright a lot, as I’m sure many artists do. I’ve debated with myself about just how I want to handle copyright and licesing of my work. I’ve stuck mostly to the traditional flat copyright model, although I have toyed with the ideas that Larry Lessig birthed with the creation of the creative commons.
Lately there’s been a firestorm of activity on the internet that’s put this back in the front of my mind. Through Twitter I heard about John T. Unger. He’s a sculptor that creates these really nice artesian fire bowls, and in an odd twist of fate, Unger is being sued by the company that is ripping off his designs. The suit claims that Unger doesn’t have the right to copyright his firebowls.
Image from johntunger.com
Image from firepitart.com
It seems rather an amusing and stupid lawsuit when you consider the copyrights Unger filed for his designs and the documentation of said copyrights. Despite the seemig frivolity, Unger has already spent $50,000 out of pocket defending his designs. That’s a lot of money, and when he got tapped out, he did what other enterprising types do. He took his case to the internet and has received overwhelming support (full disclosure, I participated in his Kickstart fund raiser and got myself a black fire imp.)
I’m not going to re-hash too much of it here, since you can read about it on The Consumerist, or just Google John T. Unger, I’m sure the hits will be numerous.
Instead now I want to mention something else I learned about on Twitter, which was the piracy of Wil Wheaton’s recent audiobook “Just a Geek” which was released and promptly offered for free download on some pirate website. The sweet irony of it was the website offering the free-illegal-download of the audiobook, was also making pleas to site visitors to click on sponsor ads to help HIM the audiobook-pirating-theif make money.
I think about all of this and I hope that when I start putting some of my work up available for download, images, e-books, and whatever else I come up with as this project evolves, I wonder what my first encounter with piracy will be and how I’ll react to it and handle it.
I’m nearing the point where I can deploy my website redesign, and the first stage will include free high resolution downloads of images. I’ve decided to release images downloaded this way under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
It’s a mouthful, I know, but I’m hoping that the larger part of my audience will respect the license and if people start using my work for commercial purposes or creation of derivative works, perhaps it will help me focus my market appeal.
Despite my copyright concerns I’m very excited about this new direction and I know it won’t lead to an immediate flood of interest or income related to my work but I’m hoping that this is a good foundation for me to build on.
Which reminds me, my new website is live, and while this is only stage one, without any of the media offerings I talked about before, I’ve put together the framework to build it on. The next step is going to be gathering my catalog of images I’ll be offering as free downloads and setting up the download gallery. If you want to check it out I’m at www.marinatingthemind.com.