I’m starting to make some steps forward with phase two of my CD collection plan – scanning the artwork. I did a couple trial runs on an old scanner at the house and it was way too much of a headache. So yay, I get to buy more stuff. A new scanner, but not such a big expense. $65. I can’t believe how cheap that tech has gotten.
While preparing for that effort, I researched communities that I could benefit with my efforts. I found one that was appealing, if just a touch elitist. When I went to sign up, I took the time to read their terms of service. I didn’t like what I read.
In summary, when you upload to their site, they become the owners of the content. Further, they insist that they will be the only source for that content. You can’t post your artwork anywhere else.
First off, let’s just make it clear that it’s very odd to be discussing who “owns” owns a replica of a copyrighted work. But, ignoring that for a moment and moving to a secondary “IP market”, let’s think about what this ToS means. I “created” the work with my effort of scanning and cleaning and when I upload it, I effectively lose ownership of that work.
Yeah, yeah, it might be standardized language. But there’s other standardized language that is more lenient. Something like: By uploading, I am granting an unlimited license for the site to use my work however they want. In that case, I retain the original rights (yeah, of a copyrighted work; just ignore that…).
So my problem with the site is that they are taking my work and making it their own. It’s Christopher Columbus on the Internet. Why should I be outraged? Tons of websites have a similar model. Or do they? The first thing I’m thinking of is Huffpost, that site that pays people in “exposure”. But even there, after reading their ToS, you grant them rights to use your submission any way they want, even through derivative works. And, you still own your stuff.
That thinking and research made me start questioning the entire publishing for exposure model. If you create something awesome and it gets posted on HuffPost, and gets scooped up by multiple news outlets (licensed? paid-for? maybe.), what do you get out of it? Your name is attached to it, but does that really help you? There’s just so much happening. You would have to repeat that success over and over to get recognized as consistent talent.
I’m much more agreeable to the “toss it to the ether and let other do what they want with it” ideal. So, my choice is not to affiliate with any artwork website, but to use Flickr. Hypocritical? All I’m doing is providing great content to a huge corporation. Yes, but, all I want from them is hosting space. If someone wants to use my cd scan for an ebay auction, great! I would encourage that. See, it’s not about just making your world better – which I’d already have done for my own cd collection – it’s about making everyone’s world better.