Monday, May 21, 2012

Research, creative rights and other tedious nonsense

My fiancee once referred to The Collinsport Historical Society as my "second full-time job." The pay might suck, but the hours are flexible and I've met some wonderful people along the way.

No, I'm not closing up shop. I just wanted to take a moment to address an issue that reared its ugly head again this weekend and wanted to begin this post on positive ground. You might have noticed a while back that I had taken to watermarking some of my images, branding them with the URL of this website. I did this because a Facebook fan page was lifting material from my site and posting it on their own, with nary a mention of where they found it. At first, I gave the page's administrator the benefit of the doubt and chalked it up to chance. If I could find this material, then somebody else could, as well. Hell, maybe they found it on the same day I did and it was all one big coincidence.

When these images started appearing on his site just minutes after appearing on my own, I began to get suspicious. And, when the fake 1991 Dark Shadows trading cards I created began to appear, cropped of the borders I created for them, I couldn't ignore what was happening.

The only problem was that my site was still very new, and had 10% of the following of this other Facebook page. I didn't want people's first experience with this site to be negative, and all it would take to sour people on my work is for the administrator of the Facebook page to tell his followers that I'm an asshole.

My response to the problem was a little bit like refusing to call the police after a break-in because you're afraid you'll make the burglars angry.

After a while, I noticed the Facebook page had stopped pilfering from my website, so I stopped watermarking the images. I guess he noticed I'd let down my guard, because another image (this one, to be specific) popped up on his website. This time, I decided to say something.

I posted a comment on the image asking (the word "please" was used) him to credit where he found the image. His response was not "Sure," or  even "Hell, no." He didn't respond at all, unless you count deleting the image and banning me from the site as "response." Which I guess it is.

I didn't ask him to delete the image. I made no demands at all, beyond asking for him to mention where he found it. Considering he never posted any of my watermarked images, I'm going to climb out on a limb and guess he's not a man who likes to share credit with others.

Now, the newspaper and magazine scans I post here? I don't find them on Facebook. I haul my ass over to the library and spend hours researching topics and rifling through reels of microfilm, microfiche or whatever other types of microform are available. Sometimes I find something worth posting, sometimes I don't.

I also do some of my research online, but many of the better Internet newspaper tools have paywalls. How do I get past these paywalls? I pay them, of course.

And after I finish the initial part of my research, I have to process the master image into something that can hopefully be read as a JPEG, which takes even more time.

Not long after I was banned from the "Dark Shadows Fan Site" page on Facebook for politely asking a question, I took up the issue on my own Facebook page. I guess the administrator of the DS Fan Site saw what I had to say (it was nice of him to continue to visit my home after booting me out of his) because he responded:
Thousands of Dark Shadows photo's are shared on the internet on a daily basis without anyone asking to use them. I will give credit to anyone's personal paintings that i may use on here, but what i don't understand is when i use one simple news clipping from long ago, some people complain that i posted it without their permission or crediting them for the picture. If that was the case then every Dark Shadows picture that is being "Shared" today on here must be given credit to Dan Curtis and Tim Burton. My photo's that I use on here are for paying tribute to Dark Shadows and is meant not to infringe upon the copyrights of Dark Shadows or Dan Curtis and Tim Burton.
I'm giving him credit for his words (and even a link to his Facebook site) completely without irony. I won't even make a snarky comment about the bad grammar and punctuation. The artwork of Ken Turner currently graces the website's banner without Turner's name being attached to it, though.

I never claimed creative ownership of the newspaper and magazine scans I post here (rights I clearly don't have.) I struggle to provide detailed information, whenever possible, with each image so that people conducting their own research know where they can find the source material. If this site is about anything, it's about sharing information. If you want to use anything you find on this site, help yourself, but please consider providing a link to where you found it.

That being said, I have no intention of spending my free time in libraries (not to mention spending my own money) to feather someone else's nest. What I'm doing on this site takes a little more effort that hitting the "post" button on Facebook. And the only reason I mention this at all is because I've been accused of being unreasonable in a forum where I am not allowed to respond ... all over an image I paid to acquire.

UPDATE: It looks like some of my more enthusiastic readers have taken the fight to the doorstep of the Dark Shadows Fan Site. Someone has even created a page called "D.S. Fansfortruth," which is kind of hilarious. But this entire "controversy" is kind of hilarious.


Anonymous said...

Love your site. It's amazing, the stuff you've found. Your hard work is definitely appreciated by me.

Anonymous said...

Do you want me to break his kneecaps? I'm good for that.

Anonymous said...

Do you want me to break his kneecaps? I'm good for that.

Anonymous said...

So, the latest turn of events is that he's shutting down his since all the "harassment and cyber-bullying" you demanded from your friends(which is offensive as all hell, since I work on no man's orders!)is detrimental to his health, and will be starting a closed site in a few days.

Which essentially translates as "Now you work be able to see when I rip off your content. Nyah!"

vderricks said...

I love this site! The hard work that you've put into it is undeniable and very much appreciated. As a member of the generation who ran home from school to watch “Dark Shadows”, this site brings back so many great memories. I remember all of the merchandise based on the show and the frenzy Jonathan Frid caused when he made a promotional appearance here in Baltimore. Thanks for the memories. P. S., I have a baseball bat and it can be just as effective as a crowbar. LOL!

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