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Disney Stupidity Strikes Again!

I’ve complained about Disney making stupid decisions before. Their need to allow marketing to shape the creation of Star Wars. The extremely poorly thoughtout plan behind Thanos’ motivation in Infinity War. Their nearly utter lack of risks under their own titles by way of live action remakes, sequels, and reboots. But now they are doing it again. Disney is not renewing their contract with Netflix and has decided only to release digital copies of their titles on their own video streaming service. This is beyond stupid. This is near suicidal.

So Late to the Party, It’s Over

There are three big streaming networks: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Netflix added their streaming line in 2007, Hulu launched their content in 2008, and Amazon Prime’s streaming service switched from only on demand to a subscription service in 2011. That means Netflix has been around for 12 years, Hulu for 11, and Prime for 8. All three hold titles from many different distribution companies and in the last few years, all three have been creative Emmy winning original titles as well. Netflix has 137.1 million subscribers (https://www.statista.com/statistics/250934/quarterly-number-of-netflix-streaming-subscribers-worldwide/), Hulu has 20 million subscribers (https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/hulu-statistics/), and Amazon Prime has about 100 million subscribers (https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/amazon-prime-100-million-subscribers-jeff-bezos-1202757832/). Netflix being the first explains why they have the most, and Amazon Prime offering other perks, such as free two day shipping and digital copies of a selection of books and music, explains why it is second. The only other real competition to these three is HBO Now, as HBO has been creating it’s own original content for decades before streaming subscriptions were a thing, and they regularly get recent blockbusters. This past year their relatively new online subscription service has hit over 5 million subscribers (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-01/hbo-s-channel-for-cord-cutters-surpasses-5-million-subscribers). This was actually a relatively natural progression for the channel, and other paid channel networks have followed suit with less success. The point is that the most successful streaming services offer both original content and multiple distribution companies’ titles and have been around for nearly ten years or have a sweet package that includes other benefits. The streaming wars haven’t just begun. They’re long over. Only something with extremely competitive benefits can even get a foot in the door. Another Amazon Prime. I could see Apple successfully doing this if they were willing branch off of their own tech products (i.e. all smart TVs and Windows computers) and converted to a subscription service, like their Apple Music. Disney’s package is not competitive. My guess is that it’s going to be priced too high because Disney thinks they are worth more than they are.

Big Dumb Animal

Disney is one of a handful of major media corporations. Nearly all of them are know for doing stupid things on a regular basis. Universal tried making their dumb dark universe. Warner Bros is failing spectacularly at creating a DCCU. Fox just makes bad movies because they trust Ridley Scott far too much. Other endeavors don’t do so well either. The news sections of the major media corporations are lackluster as almost all of them use rhetorical techniques and spotlighting techniques to incite fear and manipulate public opinion to political sides or to raise their own ratings. They often make business decisions that would kill smaller companies, such as cancelling Emmy winning TV shows, not marketing movies that need it and over-marketing those that don’t, designing creative titles by committee, watering down acquired IPs for mass markets, performing unethical and illegal acts that obstruct a criminal investigation simply to keep a news story going, one arm of the company suing another arm of that same company, not backing video streaming when it first came out. These big media corporations are stupid. They are frankly too big not to be stupid. They aren’t innovators. They aren’t trail-blazers. They copy each other and they copy the innovators, thinking that they can “do it better”. They typically can’t. The problem is inspiration. They don’t have it. Maybe one day they did, years ago, but they don’t have it anymore. Now, they have demographic data, marketing teams, and financial optimization. These are not the things that create new ideas. These are the things that keep big businesses big and, they hope, bigger. Disney is just like any other major media corporation. Large, full of MBA buzzwords, and mostly empty-headed.

You Have Hulu?!

Case in point: Disney owns a controlling interest in Hulu, one of the three major video streaming services, and they want to launch a new, Disney-branded video streaming service that would be in . . . direct competition to . . . the one they already own with 20 million subscribers. Hmm. I don’t think it needs to be explained why that would be a dumb move. I could foresee Disney pushing a vote to close down Hulu, which is dumb, to cut this competition. Why would this be dumb? Well, Hulu is established, it’s built. All the investment that was needed to create Hulu has already been spent. Disney is now spending what has to be a comparable amount of money to build a Disney-branded video streaming service when they already have a pre-built video streaming service. Is it entirely theirs? No, part of it is owned by Comcast and AT&T, and the 30% that was owned by Fox is now Disney’s, which means Disney own 60%, a controlling interest, and thus a majority profit. They could rebrand Hulu if they wanted to (don’t do that), and after Hulu’s deal with Spotify, Hulu is even more attractive as a product then it used to be. Disney is not going to be able to compete with that. I seriously doubt that the new streaming service is even going to compare with the amount of content and the quality of the original content on Hulu. I got Hulu exclusively to see The Handmaid’s Tale, an award winning show. I doubt Disney’s channel with it’s branding tied specifically to the Disney name will have the kind of deep and dark content allowed on Hulu. And it’s just going to cost them so much money.

Money Sink

Disney has a lot of money. Of that, we can be sure. They bought Star Wars and the Lucas companies for billions of dollars. They acquired Marvel through similar means a few years before that. Recently, they purchased 20th Century Fox and all their IPs and subsidiaries. They have money. Frankly, they could stand to take a few hits in that department to make them beef up their quality. While Marvel is still doing well financially on the film front, the quality of writing has gone down dramatically since the Russo Brothers have replaced Joss Whedon. Star Wars fans have finally woken up to the idea that Disney Star Wars is the worst Star Wars–something I’ve been saying since Rogue One and knew after The Force Awakens. But hardcore Disney fans still drink the cool aid when it comes to these live action remakes and sequels. My hope is that this new video streaming service will be an absolute waste of money, much like the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation was. I can see Disney not investing enough to build a truly workable service, with a good customer service system, spending more money on marketing the service, and then over-charging for the whole thing. I can also foresee them pulling the whole “Disney Vault” bullshit and rotating old titles in and out of their own service arbitrarily, thus creating a false supply titles. What I’m saying is, I foresee an utter waste of money for both Disney and fans.

An End to the Defenders

It was a sad, sad time as each new day brought another notice of a Defenders cancellation. Were all the shows good? No, of course not. Luke Cage and Iron Fist were terrible, and the second season of Daredevil, much like the second Iron Man movie, was too focused on introducing new things into the mix as we had more of the Hand, Stick, Elektra, and the Punisher then we knew what to do with. But the quality of these shows overall were better than say Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They covered deeper, darker subjects than other MCU titles. And now thanks to Disney being a jealous dick, we’re not getting any more of them. When Luke Cage and Iron Fist were cancelled, I was not shocked as I had just finished the second seasons of both and yee, gods, man. What the hell were they thinking? When an audience member literally says out loud “What the fuck?” upon the final scene of your show, that may be a sign that its time to hang it up. But Daredevil season three was great! And I can’t wait for the premier of season three of Jessica Jones or of season two of Punisher. Jessica Jones season two was still very awesome. And the first season of Punisher, while shockingly brutal, was freaking amazing! This is just a tragedy of TV that we won’t have anymore Charlie Cox Daredevil, Krysten Ritter Jessica Jones, or Jon Bernthal Punisher. Or will we? No, probably not. Disney isn’t smart enough to move it something like FX or Hulu, where something that dark would make sense, and with the new way of TV original content being separated by different video streaming services, it wouldn’t really make sense to have some seasons on Netflix, where the distribution rights lie for those seasons, and have new seasons on another service. So I don’t foresee a revival for any of these unless Disney can unjam their head from up that deep, dark cavern they’ve decided it belongs.

Devalued IPs

Speaking of IPs like the Defenders, Disney has been systematically watering down and killing their major IPs. Most of you will think I’m talking about Star Wars, and I totally am. Disney has managed to drive away the reason they purchased Star Wars in the first place. You know, the fans. It wasn’t just virtue signalling narratives, it was also poor narrative construction with uneven pacing, badly developed characters, marketing that over-saturated the market, and getting in bed with the worst game publisher in the world that resulted in a huge PR nightmare and loss of public trust, when they could have just used the publisher that came with the purchase from Lucas (https://empatheticwriter.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/star-wars-why-i-dont-like-it/). But Star Wars is not the only IP they have harmed in the last decade. What with their need to milk the shit out of their own titles, resulting in remakes, reboots, and sequels up the wazoo, Disney movies have gone down in quality, resulting in mostly boring live action remakes that aren’t as good as the originals (https://empatheticwriter.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/do-you-need-money-or-something-disney-reboot-remakes-and-sequels/). Then there is the sequels with Pixar. Luckily, Pixar still has some ideas, like Moana, but you know its going to get a less than stellar sequel. While I love The Incredibles and I’ve always wanted a sequel, when I watched the trailer, I got a bad feeling. Finding Dory was basically Finding Nemo, but with Dory and Nemo switched places, and a lot of having their cake and eating it to when it came to making fun of people who were different and suggesting that they are complete individuals deserving of our respect. The trailer for The Incredibles 2 just seems like The Incredibles only now instead of Bob running off to do superhero stuff while Helen stays home to take care of the kids and house, she’s running off to do superhero stuff while he stays home to take care of the kids and the house. It’s a problem. And really, they’re going to do a Toy Story 4? Isn’t that a bit much? Finally, the MCU. Their golden goose. Well, it was, before Joss Whedon decided he was done and they went all in on the Russo Brothers, who suck hard core. The main storyline of the MCU has become increasingly plot-hole filled with villains that have plans without any sense or structure to them and characters whose development is abused by main plot points. The stories are contrived for the purpose of creating drama. And I’m sick of it. While most audiences still like the MCU, the quality is fucking awful now. The only thing holding it all together are the great actors. I swear, it feels like the Russo brothers were asked to dismantle the MCU, because it is the only thing that makes sense. So yeah, Disney has flooded the market with horrible movies, and don’t even get me started on their TV channel! That’s been horrific for decades.

No Risks and Stupid Risks

I’ve said before that Disney was in a position to take risks. When I said that, I meant creatively, as in coming up with new IPs instead of remaking all their animated movies. I didn’t mean jump into the video streaming service market five years after it matters and after having acquired one of the big three. That isn’t a risk. That’s a jump off a cliff. It baffles me that they would not take real risks with their creative work, but do something that will in all likelihood fail as business venture. I know that these decisions are not made by the same person, that Disney is large corporation made up of a lot of people and subsidiaries, but it has a corporate culture of no creativity and cutting out the middle man. This new venture isn’t about innovation or customer support. It’s about making the most money they think they can. They see the profits that other video streaming services rake in and think they could have all that money by cutting out Netflix. But that’s potential profits, not real profits. They have no idea how much money they will actually make off their video streaming service. This is a stupid way of looking at things too because Netflix makes the money it does not because it has Disney titles, but because it has Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Sony, etc. titles and original content and no commercials. Disney is only one part of how they make their profits. They have an amazing contract with Warner Bros that allows for CW shows exclusively. And we all know how popular, if not good, those are. So for Disney to be looking possibly at Netflix profits and thinking, those could be our profits, is dumb, because they aren’t the only draw of a varied and long-standing video streaming service.

“Well, I’m Going to Cancel My Netflix Subscription”

Sure, the five million people who do this will leave “quite” a dent in Netflix’s profits. As if Netflix doesn’t have Stranger Things. Suuuuure. Netflix is gonna suffer sooooooo much. Netflix’s biggest competitor isn’t even Amazon Prime. It’s YouTube. Not even YouTube Red, Google’s attempt to get YouTube out of the red and into the black. Just regular old YouTube. But that’s because YouTube has content no one else has. No, not live TV or news clips. No, let’s plays, and gaming news and lists. The most watched videos on YouTube are related to gaming, something no other video service comes close to getting right. Twitch could eat their lunch in the viewership numbers if they weren’t just live streaming, as gaming news and lists and game walkthroughs are another huge draw, which are harder to do live. So when I hear the counter that people are going to leave Netflix for Disney, I scoff, because no other video streaming service competes on the same level. Prime looks like it does because of its numbers, but some Prime members aren’t there for the videos. They’re there for the two day shipping. Will Netflix take a hit over this? Yes, but it won’t be a company breaking hit.

In the End

I rag on Disney a lot, and despite that, they are not my least favorite media giant. That spot is firmly held by Sony. But Disney is a close second because they have so much, do so little creatively, and make dumb decisions. Because Disney owns so many major IPs, this upsets me. They have some of the best material, material that has huge followings built into them. It’s upsetting to see them gobble up more and more with the feeling that they are just going to waste all that potential and talent on half-assed projects, that they are going to end good ventures simply to get all the money in the world. They think their shit don’t stink. But it does. God, but it does. Is something like this going to take them down? Well, if EA is still around despite all they’ve done the last few years, I seriously doubt that this straw is the last straw for Disney. In fact, I see there numbers being high enough in the beginning at least for them to think this is a justified venture. They are also huge. They can absorb this quite easily if it is a loss. Will they learn a lesson if it fails? Most likely they won’t. Their vault BS has been working for them for decades. The problem is their size. They’ll stub their toe and just move on to the next dumb idea. Disney fans will continue to swallow the cool aid, and they will continue to make enough money to think they are untouchable. They’ll look for any answer that doesn’t hold them responsible for any failures, as they have in the past. And they’ll kept on doing what they’ve been doing. But now they own nearly everything of value. If they buy Warner Bros, we’re fucked. Because you know damn well, they’d end the Arrowverse in a heartbeat, despite its success and the world it has built. I’m just tired of Disney getting more and more and doing less and less of value with what they have. Aren’t you?

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Copyright Nightmares and Plagiarism Heists: How the Law Is on Your Side and Corporations Don’t Care

I once uploaded one of my own audio recordings for my YouTube channel to iTunes since it was really hard to get the recordings into the apps I used to use for video editing. iTunes DRM locked my own recording, locking me out of using it in apps. What the fuck kind of sense does that make, Apple? Come on, Tim Cook, grow your baby’s-first-computer company up and teach it copyright. Despite international copyright law being pretty cut and dry (to me at least) and it recognizing fair use, most people don’t understand what copyright means, how it works, how it is infringed, and what qualifies for plagiarism. I’m going to try to break down some basics and explain why I think international courts need to start cracking down on the disruption of fair use, and what we as creators and critics can do to make them.

Copyright vs Publication: Stephenie Meyer and the Midnight Sun Leak

A few years back, Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series was working on a novel called Midnight Sun covering the events of Twilight from Edward’s perspective, when it was leaked on the internet. Some people erroneously thought that since her novel hadn’t been published yet that she had no legal recourse for the leak. This is simply not true. I believe these people were confusing publication with copyright. Before I publish this post on my blog, it is subject to copyright. As I come up with the idea and write down notes on the post, it is subject to copyright. Copyright protects the creators of intellectual property from plagiarism at all stages of the creation process. However, it is much easier to prove in a court of law that something is your intellectual property once it has been published. The digital age has made it a little easier than it used to be to prove that something was yours before publication, but seriously, was there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Midnight Sun was written by Stephenie Meyer? She decided against going to court because the person who leaked it had done so accidentally and she posted her own version of the incomplete novel for people to read. She did, however, lose her motivation to finish it, which is the risk of your creative project being distributed in an unfinished form without your consent.

Fan Fiction Gets Published

Technically, fan fiction can be considered plagiarism. And before I start talking about E. L. James, I’ll talk some more about Stephenie Meyer. A few years ago, I decided to try to watch Roswell, not the new CW TV show called Roswell, New Mexico, but the first one with Katherine Heigl. After one horrific episode, I wasn’t just shocked by how terrible it was but also by the fact that all this seemed familiar. Why? Because the plot of the first episode is basically the same as the first half of Twilight the novel. There is a small group overly insular kids, who are only friends with each other, and our main character, a girl who doesn’t consider herself attractive and isn’t popular, is saved by one of the male members of that group in a miraculous and inhuman way. They start to fall in love even though his friends don’t want him to get close to her. It’s the fucking same. I know Roswell wasn’t good (certainly not worth a remake), but I don’t think Melinda Metz and Jason Katims deserved to have their shit ripped off.

Image result for roswell tv showImage result for twilight book cover

A lot of people think that the Fifty Shades of Grey books are Twilight fan fiction, but I’ve had a joy of seeing Secretary, and I’m pretty sure those books are more of ripoff of that great movie, considering that both the men’s names are Grey and it is focused on a budding BDSM relationship.

Related imageImage result for 50 shades of grey book cover

The Hunger Games series has been frequently compared to Battle Royale, of which Suzanne Collins claims never to have heard. Yes, because movies, a manga series, and a novel are all hard to miss, even if they are Japanese. Koushun Takami didn’t bother going to court over it because sales of the various Battle Royale works increased after people starting pointing out that The Hunger Games was basically the same thing. Neither of them are very good novels, but if you are going to read one, read Battle Royale. The translation may not be great, but the subject is far better treated by Takami than it is by Collins.

Image result for battle royale book coverImage result for the hunger games book cover

I know a lot of stories are derivative, but sometimes creators aren’t very good at hiding their sources. I’m okay with people doing this if they admit it, because I believe art is cumulative, but in our litigation heavy world, the homage and the retelling is getting harder and harder to do with more recent works. Paradise Lost is a retelling of Genesis and can be called fan fiction. Ulysses is a retelling of the Odyssey and could be called fan fiction. It’s called influences, and we shouldn’t have to live in fear of what inspired us as creators.

Social Media and the Age of the Meme

The internet and social media especially has exploded the number of creators in the world. Blogs (like this one), YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook has created an excess of bite size media producers, most of the work being referred to as Memes, which basically now means a graphical joke, either still or moving, but typically short. The number of comic artists being seen, especially parody creators, has skyrocketed. And this is where copyright gets fuzzy. Is is plagiarism to take someone’s photo, art, video, audio, or copyrighted creation, put your own spin on it and publish it online? I argue that yes, it is. In the U.S. at least. The first amendment protects parody, so all those comic artists creating jokes around how stupid Infinity War is are completely legal. The fair use doctrine also protects those who comment and/or criticize an intellectual property that is not their own, which, to me at least, covers a lot of memes. This is debatable and is not accepted by all nations, despite fair use also being part of the International Copyright Laws. Many Japanese companies often ignore fair use entirely and China often ignores copyright wholesale. I believe, though, that there is a good basis to argue that memes are fair use and protected by law. I think this is good thing as well because creation should be more fluid and people should be able to comment and criticize other creative works, even in bite size ways.

Europe, Are You Insane?

As a writer and artist, I believe that creators own their work, and I don’t believe in censorship. As a critic, I understand that any one not technically working for a company, but creating individual commentary has the right to do so while using copyrighted work to make their points. The European Parliament has passed laws on copyright and creation they think will help things. And I have a hard time not laughing and then breaking down in tears over the bullshit they call progress on this front. Automation is main goal of the biggest websites, like YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, etc. It’s hard to hire enough people to cover all the content that ends up on a site of that size, and it’s also very costly. The European Parliament is putting the responsibility of preventing copyright infringement on these platforms. This will mean automation, upload filters as they are known, to check to see if the content violates copyright. Since copyright law is complex, it’s hard to imagine that any automated system will be able to recognize the difference between something that is stolen vs something that qualifies as fair use. The law will also limit sharing of links for some unfathomable reason. Because showing your sources is  . . . bad? Because sharing knowledge with others is . . . wrong? They also think this law is going to help small journalists. Somehow. In Europe at least. Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, along with several other big names of the internet, signed an open letter against the law, saying that the internet would not be what it is today if a law like this existed 25 years ago (source: https://www.wired.com/story/europes-copyright-law-could-change-the-web/). This suggests that other newly developing websites will never reach the level of something like Wikipedia with this new law in place. I am not okay with the idea that growth will be stifled for new content creators and platforms, thus locking in the big websites without any chance for real competition and innovation.

Journalism, Big and Small, and Fair Use

Rooster Teeth, one of the biggest online creator groups, known for RWBY, Red vs Blue, and the journalistic series, The Know, is breaking up with YouTube. Rooster Teeth existed before YouTube was big, and they’re probably going to survive this breakup just fine. There are many other smaller or individual journalists on YouTube, many of them focused on gaming news, such as YongYea, Laymen Gaming, CleanPriceGaming, Jim Sterling, and movie news or mixed news, like WhatCulture, ScreenJunkies News, and critics, like AngryJoe, Screen Rant, Nostalgia Critic, Red Letter Media, Yahtzee Croshaw, and myself, AlexofAllTrades. All of us, including The Know, were/are utilizing copyrighted material under fair use. We are commenting on it. We may not be NBC, CNN, BBC, Fox, ABC, or CBS, but that doesn’t give us any less rights to the fair use doctrines. We just don’t have the lawyers or clout to back us up. Which is why I question how Europe’s new law is going to help small journalists, when automated copyright checking on YouTube has failed time and time again to recognize fair use and taken down videos and whole channels because of this. So forcing other websites to do what YouTube is failing to do well is a bad move for smaller journalists around the world.

YouTube, You Unethical Jackass

Europe’s new law basically forces the large companies into using upload filters and currently YouTube already has an upload filter. I must say that this is used ineptly at best and unethically at worst. The upload filter does not recognize fair use. It makes sense that it should go after clips of items that don’t have commentary in the form of audio or text over the clip or before or after the clip. However it does go after clips that have commentary. A YouTuber does not have to talk over the clip for it to qualify for fair use. They could talk before or after the clip and the clip is either being used as evidence of a point or being examined closely. That’s the reality of fair use. That’s just good composition. The upload filter does not recognize this however. That’s where it is inept. It is unethical in that it allows large companies first dibs, before a video is live to say that the video is their property. Normal individuals do not have this capability. That’s unethical as it is unfairly applied. YouTube does not review the claim of copyright infringement before taking action against the video uploaded. The company claiming copyright is given carte blanche to remove the video, block the video from view in multiple countries, and/or monetization. Any claim prevents the YouTuber from monetizing the video, and if the YouTuber was not eligible for monetization already, the company can make money off their video when the YouTuber never could have. This is also unethical. If the YouTuber disagrees with the claim, they can dispute it. The dispute is not reviewed by YouTube or a third party legal department, but the company that claims the infringement. They typically reject the dispute, regardless of what the YouTuber puts for their reasons. YouTube has no acknowledgement of mixed copyright items. So if a video qualifies as fair use in reality, but the company fails to acknowledge it, the company and YouTube by the way they have built the system is violating the copyright of the YouTuber. If I do a review of a Sony Pictures movie and include clips and stills to illustrate my points, that is fair use. If Sony Pictures monetizes my video under the YouTube system of handling large corporations copyright, they are in violation of my copyright and engaged in plagiarism. This is the same as if Sony took the profits from an issue of BoxOffice because the magazine did a feature on the movie Venom using images from the movie. It doesn’t make any sense in that instance. It’s obvious copyright infringement to make money off of the labor of the critic who wrote the feature and the magazine itself. Why would doing this suddenly make sense to do it on YouTube? YouTube doesn’t make any money off those YouTubers who can’t or don’t monetize. This gives them an incentive to allow big companies like Sony erroneously to monetize small YouTubers videos. It also allows big companies to lower the impact of negative reviews, such as my review of Arrival, which is blocked by Sony and Paramount in about 275 countries and wasn’t exactly glowing. YouTube allows and frankly encourages these kinds of copyright infringement. If after the company rejects your dispute, you’d like to contest it further, your contestation does not go to YouTube. It still goes to the company claiming infringement. If they reject it again, the video is taken down and the YouTuber is given a copyright strike. Three strikes and this channel is taken down. Only then if you contest the strike, does it go to YouTube. This is lazy on top of being incompetent and unethical. Who are we to believe that the same would not be done when other websites are forced to add upload filters? I think we would be suckers to believe that it would be any better.

Giving It Away for Free, You Awesome Slut: Doing the Work vs Selling the Work and Your Options as a Creator

A lot of creative people give content away for free. Not just little things, but big things too. It doesn’t mean their copyright doesn’t apply; it just means they aren’t making any money directly off the content. My YouTube channel and this blog are entirely free without ads as well. I make no money off of either. Why would an artist do this? Well, for one thing it’s the “get them in the door” method and for another, whether or not I got paid to do those things, I would still do them. Currently I do not have a lot of subscribers or followers and frankly, I’m okay with that. Creative people who think the notice and money are the marks are success are often tremendously unhappy when they have neither of those things. John Kennedy Toole wrote two novels, neither of which were published in his lifetime. He shopped his novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, around a lot, but there were no takers. Toole eventually killed himself. I can’t help but think that if he had found more satisfaction in the work he had done, in that he had actually done it, he accomplished what many can’t, he completed a novel and then moved on to new projects while shopping his novel around, that he may not have become so depressed. Does it suck not being noticed? Yes, it does. But the real work, the real accomplishment, is in doing it, is in improving your skills. If a person were to prioritize that, then I believe they could be okay.

And now with the internet, it is much easier to give it away for free. To me, second after actually doing the work, is getting people to look at it, not to make money. Even if it is just a small number paying attention. To the one or two people who will read this, even if you don’t write a comment, I’m still thankful for your time. Some types of work should be free, and I believe YouTube videos and blogs fall under that category. But to swing it back around again to Stephenie Meyer (I swear I’m not a fan; she’s just had a storied career), she gave away her novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. She didn’t have to do that. People would have paid for it. It was only for a short period, but still, to generate interest in something fans would still have gladly paid for, she released it for free. Some people argue against creative people giving away work for free. It is true that the majority of us don’t make a lot of money. I do believe that creative people should be valued and that means being paid. Before anyone drags out my “When Opportunity Knocks, It’s the Opportunity to be Exploited” Higher Ed Chronicle letter (https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/letters/when-opportunity-knocks-now-its-the-opportunity-to-be-exploited/), there is a difference between systematic exploitation and working pro-bono. Creative people should choose what work they want to be paid for. They should not be forced into working for free. That’s called slavery and it’s not only inappropriate, it’s illegal. Artists often provide their work for free to charities or to in need demographics. Look at Pixabay. Robin Higgins provided 108 free images of herself there under a creative commons license (Thank you, Robin). Many of the memes you see, come from websites like this, with images supplied by photographers, artists, and models specifically to support the internet culture. The internet is a culture of sharing, so frankly, these people are the heroes of the internet. If you find a reference to a peer reviewed article you’d like to read, but don’t want to pay the periodical for access, you can contact the writer and they will in all likelihood send it to you for free as they don’t make any more money when you pay the periodical for it. The internet isn’t just a culture of sharing memes. It’s also a culture of sharing knowledge and ideas. This is a good thing. The internet also gives IP creators a chance to control with a fine touch what they can make money off of and what they give away for free. It’s a good idea to take advantage of this. Decide who, how, and on what you make your money. It’s your choice.

The Law Is on Your Side, but the Real Issue Is Money

It’s important as a creative person and as a critic to know international copyright law, in order to protect yourself and to make your own decisions about what to do with your work. And always remember that if someone takes your idea, but not your exact words, without crediting you, they are still committing plagiarism, much like Filip Miucin did to smaller YouTubers. Reviews often cover similar ideas, but when the organization of the review is exactly the same, despite the words not being the same, then we’re dealing with plagiarism. No upload filter is going to catch something like that, and upload filters do not recognize quoting and the development of sources as fair use. So when you start working on the internet, it’s a good idea to look into a lawyer to protect yourself. But most of us can’t afford one. So here are some sources on pro bono lawyers that focus on copyright infringment: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/intellectual_property_law/resources/probonostates/ . Unfortunately, you will have to do a search in your specific locale for a law firm, as lawyers are allowed to practice per state or nation, so you want to make sure that you find a local lawyer. There is also the possibility of filing class action lawsuits against websites with systematic issues of copyright infringement against multiple individuals such as Facebook and YouTube. With there being so many individual creators without a lot of money, this is the best option. The problem is that someone with more notice will have to get the ball rolling, putting out the word that a class action lawsuit is needed. Small artists and critics need to work together to make real change happen, and before you think it is impossible, large groups of people with not a lot individually have made changes before. And before you think litigation is unsavory, realize that the law and litigation are there to help you as well as large businesses. Also, most of the negativity over litigation in the US was promoted by PR firms hired by large corporations, as the McDonald’s coffee case with the older woman was not the first case brought against McDonalds on the temperature of their coffee and that woman had a prolonged hospital stay and nearly died. The real villain of that story was McDonalds. So please, if you have been victimized by a non-criminal offense, please find yourself a lawyer and fight it. Do not think: This is just the way it is. That’s the kind of thought that allows more and more people like yourself to be victimized again and again. Protect yourself and stand up for yourself. We all need to do this as creators and critics, especially in the new world of global, individual creation and publication. Let’s fight for ourselves, together.

 

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