***adult language and ego-trip rant warning *** On Tuesday I got an unexpected surprise when I opened my browser. My homepage is set to Reddit.com (the front-page of the Internet) because I enjoy keeping up with whatever depraved and wacky meme is popular that minute. The second post on my front page was about the Elf on the Shelf. I clicked. Then my heart dropped as I saw my Dexter Morgan elf, an entry into the Inappropriate Elf contest on Baby Rabies from last year, in the picture gallery. The title of the post was “My Friend is posting these pics of their “Elf on the Shelf.” The only trouble is that I’m not that person’s friend and those other elves were also lifted from various websites. I recognized another from this year’s contest.
My Dexter Elf made the front page of Reddit. That’s a pretty huge deal considering Reddit can bestow upon a website more traffic in one day that most blogs see in a year. I took it upon myself to call out the poster for being dishonest, and while a few people saw it (maybe 300 clicked over to my post here for verification) it largely went unnoticed.
I couldn’t sleep I was so mad. I was mad at myself for not watermarking my image; I felt originally it would take away from the story of the images and part of me stupidly thought my little blog would never have images stolen and re-used without credit. I was mad at someone who decided they wanted Internet points so they would use my image that I was very proud of. Seriously- that is one of my favorite posts I have ever made and as a huge Dexter fan it was that much cooler to pull it off in such an awesome way. I was just steaming mad.
After the world saw my picture for the 15 minutes it was front page several other huge Facebook fanpages decided to cash in and uploaded it to their pages. It has been shared thousands of times without a single link to my blog, a tag to my Facebook page, or any credit to me whatsoever. It’s so wrong and it just freaking sucks. I’ve been in a pissy mood all day and as much as I tell myself that I’m pissed about a picture on the Internet (saying it out-loud kinda helps because it sounds so trivial) it didn’t help much. It was MY picture. MY idea. MY IMAGINARY INTERNET POINTS (ok… I don’t care about that but I did re-submit my Dexter Elf in retribution to let it be known he was stolen and so far I have over 600 upvotes on Reddit. Justice is mine).
But truly, what hurts the most is seeing so many people (thousands) commenting on the photo on how AWESOME it is. And not one of those people knew it was me. That just kills. God I sound vain, but it is true. I am very protective over my ideas (I’ve even ranted about this before) and it truly upsets me when an original idea of mine is taken from me on purpose. Imagine if you painted an amazing picture and it was accepted into a gallery for an exhibition but the artist named wasn’t you, it was a guy called BeefAddict. It would sting, wouldn’t it?
I’ve messaged the blogs who posted without permission and the pages I’ve seen who uploaded it too. Not one has removed the image, given credit where it is due, or even responded. Why are people such ass-hats?
I’m trying to sound as least self-righteous as possible: I just don’t understand why someone would take a picture from the internet to score imaginary points and steal credit from others in the process? How can someone think this is OK? Wouldn’t it feel better to create your own share-worthy content? Or to share it and tell others you think it is awesome while still giving credit where it is due? Stealing content is stealing. Saving a photo from the Internet for personal use- well that’s what it is. Saving a photo and using on your blog as if it is your own, or even using it and not crediting the source is just wrong. Do you know how websites get ranked? Incoming links are gold for bloggers and the more links they get the better search engines like their pages.
Sometimes people find images they think are cool and they share them on their personal pages. But when someone who runs a Facebook page with 500k likes shares a photo they best be crediting someone. They should know better. And when someone posts to Reddit to earn imaginary Internet bonus points for work that isn’t their own because they are pathetic (for the record, posting to Reddit for imaginary points is cool but stealing the thunder that isn’t yours is not). And blogs… tsk tsk. Blogging is pretty complicated and there are spoken and unspoken rules. A spoken rule is give credit. LINK. And sometimes you really just need to ask for permission to use an image, but not always.
Recently someone messaged me on my page and asked to use one of my Elf on the Shelf ideas in a post and she would of course give credit back with a link. I said yes. Later on she sent me the link. You guys- she did it all right (well… mostly. They watermarked my image with their logo which I’m not happy with but I haven’t asked them to remove it either…). Major imaginary Internet points to you Monica Beyer of AllParenting.com.
I know many of my readers are bloggers. Maybe you just blog for family and friends, for fun, or maybe you are hoping to make a more serious job of it. If that is you, or even if it isn’t and you just like sharing images you like on Facebook or Pinterest, check for a source. Kindly share the source with your readers and friends. Oh and blogger friends, no matter how small your blog, it is always a good idea to watermark. It takes more time but I wouldn’t be writing this today if I had just added a little marky-mark to my Dexter images. I am much better about it now that Pinterest is so popular and often images get shared without being linked to the source. At least with my website’s watermark it might get found.
I’m not saying everyone who has shared something from the Internet without giving credit or a link was doing it to either claim the content as their own or the maliciously prevent the owner from getting credit. Most people truly have no idea that this crazy World Wide Web has a secret code of ethics.
I’m so glad I’m flying on an underlying high of great feedback from a recent video I posted (Cloth Diapering in the 1950′s) because it has given me the faith in humanity to keep fighting. This post is all kinds of bitter, bitchy, and venti (I had to spell vent-y like a coffee because, duh, it is yummy) but sometimes that is the benefit of having a blog. You can pound out your frustrations in writing and the act of doing so magically makes you feel better. And you know what? I already do feel better. Maybe I can survive the World Wide Web after-all, but only after a good rant.