A Black(ish) Day for RedBubble

Some of the comments in this this journal entry really annoy the hell out of me. Why can’t people be reasonable when dealing with copyright violations?

I joined up to Polyvore so I could a) send a firm but polite message to the person who had misused one of my images by including it in a derivative work (something my choice of licence doesn’t permit without express permission) and b) report the behaviour of that person to the owners of the site, again, in a firm but polite way.

Even though I was initially annoyed I also realised that just blasting off at people wasn’t going to solve anything. Moreover, this sort of thing happens all the time. While it’s obvious that Polyvore is one of those sites that sails a little close to the wind in terms of ensuring their users respect copyright, and do so thanks to parts of the DCMA (which makes them no different from things like YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket, or any number of other sites that allow people to upload stuff, RedBubble included), that’s no reason to simply brand them as a site that promotes such an activity and is solely and explicitly about such an activity.

Sadly, however, I get the impression that others haven’t been quite so reasonable (I get that impression from comments I’ve seen on RedBubble and also from one of the people behind the “offending” site, someone who I must say has been very polite in the face of quite a bit of abuse). Why? What good does abusing people do? Most people are totally ignorant of copyright issues (including, it seems, many people on here who got really annoyed). Many people think “if it’s on the net, I can have it” and do so with no ill-intent at all. Many people think “I’m not going to sell it so that’s okay”. Most people learn when told. I’ve found (no names, I’m not going to unleash the mob on people here) works on RedBubble that have done the same thing to other people and all it has taken is a polite message to the individual who created the infringing work to make them aware of what they’re doing.

A polite request will probably result in action. If action isn’t taken you’ll generally find that being abusive won’t help anyway. Blaming the site won’t help. Starting petitions generally won’t help either (although it might help focus a baying mob and whip them up further).

In no particular order, and with no particular direct point, here’s some things that some people might want to consider:

  • Misunderstanding about copyright and licence issues can be turned into repeated “facts” very quickly. Check your facts. You need only read this thread from a while ago to see how easily people can mistake rumour for fact.
  • Just because I’ve got copyright on my work it doesn’t mean I don’t permit certain uses. Please don’t try and speak for “everyone at RedBubble” because there’s a good chance you don’t speak for me.
  • If you upload an image to a website there’s a good chance it will be copied and used elsewhere. Prepare yourself for this fact so that you don’t get annoyed or upset.
  • No, that last point isn’t an excuse for people copying your images in an infringing way so please don’t go pointing out to me that it’s “still wrong”. I know what’s right and wrong here.
  • Any site that allows uploading will, to some degree or another, find itself hosting works that violate someone’s rights under copyright. Even RedBubble are “guilty” of this. Are you going to start abusing the RedBubble staff now? No? Why not?
  • Seriously, I’ve found works on RedBubble that infringe copyright in the exact same way images on Polyvore did. Are you feeling angry at the RedBubble staff now?
  • Also, doesn’t anyone remember that RedBubble competition not so long back when it turned out that the winner had cheated? Are you angry at the RedBubble staff about that too?

RedBubble needs that community manager sooner than later. ;-)

Journal Comments

  • nomes
  • betelnut
  • Dominic Melfi
  • David Pearson
  • Bobbie
  • Dominic Melfi
  • Dominic Melfi
  • David Pearson
  • Stephen Colquitt
  • Dominic Melfi
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