A friend of mine who is an artist has a problem. She wants to get her art out there in the world but is deathly afraid of having it stolen. This is not new problem to me – I’ve had similar discussions with other friends and fellow artists in the past about this.
In fact, I’d venture to say that every one of us who create creative product, whether writing, painting, photography, music, etc., has at least, on one occasion, been stolen from.
The Internet, unfortunately, can make that theft even easier. Because everybody has access to everything – or so it seems. And there is a mindset that has been created by marketers, that makes consumers feel that everything should be free. From college tuition to movies, to artwork, to books and so on.
It’s happened to me
I’ve had stuff stolen. A few years back I discovered that a woman who had a ‘escort’ blog, had literally copy and pasted hundreds of my blogs posts to her blog. No attribution. No email asking for my permission. Nothing. I discovered it quite by accident. When I confronted the woman she said I should be flattered that she took my content and used it because that meant it was good. Fortunately, between some very loyal readers and the folks at WordPress, the content was taken down and in fact, she deleted her blog.
Then of course all of us who have blogged for any period of time have followed those links on our stats pages that show a link to your content on some smarmy link site – that culls the Internet for content that will get people to their sites so they’ll click on their advertising.
And if you’re a writer, at least once, you’ve written an article on spec, as part of an application process for a writing job (probably listed on Craigslist). Of course, you never hear back from them because they got what wanted – a free article on the topic of their choice.
So…you know, it happens.
What you can do about it
The fact is that there will always be thieves and people who believe they are simply entitled to whatever it is they want. There are things of course that you can do to protect yourself:
- Copyright Check the FAQs on specific copyright questions here.
- Trademark and patent registration
- Copyscape Check for plagiarism
- WGA registration Register screenplays
- Creative Commons
- Intellectual Property Attorney
While nothing is absolute and you probably cannot prevent someone who is hellbent from stealing from you – you can take precautions and protect your work in the way that is most appropriate and best for you.
Yes, it is true people may steal from you. They may copy your work. They may put their name on your work. You may have to take them to court. And of course nobody wants that to happen to them. But it’s still not a good enough reason not to share your work with the world. Creatives create for the world – not for themselves and if you let fear guide you there will be little joy to be had in your work. So, do what you can. Accept the fact that it might not be enough and move on. Put your energy into creating bigger and better things. And don’t let the bad guys win and ruin your day. Besides, the world at large is usually pretty good at spotting cheats and fakers, right?
How about you? Do you worry someone will steal your work? Do you hesitate to put your creative product out there because of possible theft or copyright infringement? Has anyone stolen your creative product? What happened? Feel free to share your tale in the comments.