Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A writer's take on SOPA

Cross posting, sorry...just want to make sure it gets seen. ;)

I'm sure you can't go anywhere online today without seeing the blacked out sites. Rather than blocking ourselves out, however, shouldn't we be discussing this subject?

As an artist, I have mixed feelings about this. Ya!!! for being down on pirates, but... a lot of sites and artists offer their stuff up for free (ya!! to them for being aware of the fact that not everyone's last name is Rockefeller). See that lil ole sexy security guard I have hanging out on my writing site? here. That came from a Free to Use (for certain terms of use) stock photo and art site called And its terms stated, yep, it could be used, so there he is to look all sexy and hot and catch any bad guys that slip past my guardian dragons. *weg* In fact its tou states: This royalty free image, "Security", can be used in corporate, personal, charitable and educational projects: it may be used in web design, printed media, advertising, book covers and pages, music artwork, software applications and much more. For more information please read our terms of use.

I figure being a selling writer falls me under the corporate thing although technically at the moment, I'm hosting and selling other folks. So either way, I'm good with regards to that babe above.

There's also a FTU section of (which is where my gravitar fox came from), and various other FTU sites and artists. Gods bless these sites for having the artists willing to, basically, share their art and photos with the world for things like, websites, book covers for, you know, books that'll end up for sale, and other sundry uses. I've watched the FTU/PTU (pay to use) image use debate for a long time, in the Paint Shop Pro community and I always, always try to find the terms of use on pictures I display for that reason. When in doubt I often don't use it. (Like mama always says, "When in doubt, throw it out!")

(Curious about this subject? You can read about it on sites like Copyright Corner and Bel's Safe Graphics School. The terms for use on art under pay to use art sites like MPT, CILM, AMI, Up Your Art, and the like usually go something like this: buy the tube for a nominal fee, and certain restrictions apply--usually that the art is *not* allowed to be used to make a profit--like for a book cover or a graphic on an author website. So you're paying to use it for personal use only (like making an wallpaper for yourself that you won't share with anyone else--possibly icons but again, I think putting them on an author site violates those tou, so I avoid it).

So, no buying and downloading the pic and putting it on your professional site or a book cover. No taking that cute half-naked guy you spotted on the web and posting his pic for a bit of eye candy. Think you can claim fair use exists? Not hardly. Not the way so many on the net think. (I could tell you a story about that that goes back decades, but I don't have the space).

What bothers me most about this SOPA thing, I think, is that I wonder how they will note those sites that use FTU/Free for Commercial use stock art, legitimately, in their "block out" logs. I'm thinking the artists and website owners who use them will have to prove the TOUs of said pic or poem or what-have-you after the fact. So I'm supporting this, on the one hand for myself and my writer friends who've been struck by book pirates, but for the users who know about and follow TOUs, to the letter? Not so much. I'm a little worried this is going to hurt them too because this SoPA thing might cover all in one big wet blanket and put the burden of proof on us, the users.

We could debate all day what constitutes copyright infringement and what doesn't, so I don't see that there's a middle ground in this debate. On the one hand, I thank the authors and artist who offer up their works FTU, on the other hand, heck, no one wants to be a thief, right? And certainly we don't want the government to make that decision for us. So what do you do? Damned if you do, damned if you don't? But happily, I found a ground of artists who seem to agree. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out this site: An open letter to Washington from Artists and Creators.

(For the reviewers, I don't think posting book covers as part of reviews falls under this block out thing, not that I've heard, anyway. If I hear anything otherwise I'll share it, or if you hear anything otherwise, I'd be curious to know.)

So for whatever good it'll do, that's my three cents.Whatever side of this debate you're on, I wish you all the freedom make that choice for yourselves. blog BUY JULI'S BOOKS NOW AT AMAZON
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