This article was published 9 years ago

Stop giving away your content

Washington Nationals blogger day
Blogger day at the Washington Nationals ballpark. – Image credit: Flickr / Cathy T

When are people going to get into their skulls that if you don’t want other people making money off your work, either don’t put it online, demand payment or host it yourself. I’ve been doing the latter for four-and-a-half years on this site; I’ve never written on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, or any online platform; and I’ve always advocated others to follow what I do.

This topic came up again after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks when news organizations started publishing cartoons from their Twitter accounts. Per the Pacific Standard:

This symbiotic corporate relationship might make some media companies squirm, but it’s even more uncomfortable for those who are actually speaking. When cartoonists rushed to respond to the Charlie Hebdo massacre with their pens, they posted their finished work on Twitter—where it was promptly scooped up and embedded on media sites, sans pay.

Tech platforms seeking as much “free” and high-quality content as possible are now in some cases actually preventing the actual making of it. One magazine editor said he doesn’t publish many cartoons because “comics tend to get thrown on Imgur or another source and circulated without credit.” In some ways, original art transcends the network, already brimming with phone photography, film GIFs, and low-quality but virally pervasive clip art. But that only makes the work ultimately more shareable.

Any media outlet that takes images off the Internet is playing a game of Russian roulette. This game is a different one: instead of one bullet in the chamber, the gun is loaded except for one empty chamber. Just ask Agence France-Presse, Getty, the Washington Post, New York Times how much they had to pay for distributing illegally-obtained photos of a destroyed Port-Au-Prince following an earthquake.

It’s a dangerous world for content creators: You either have to put your work online, get no compensation for it and only be rewarded for how many “likes” you work gets or you can do it yourself and get little to nothing for it. I’m doing the latter and so far, I’m enjoying the ride.