Barrett: Put an end to content theft, support content creators

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It’s always nice to see content creators stand up for themselves against content theft and plagiarism on the internet.

This happened last week when Barstool Sports, a blog touted as being highly popular amongst meatheads, was called out by comedian Miel Bredouw for posting a video she had done without credit and consent. When they badgered her after to use the content – offering a measly $50 gift card to their online store – she called them out for that, too.

It was heartening, as a photographer and journalist, to see a wave of people on the internet take a stand against the blog and it’s pilfering of others hard work to make a profit.

I wish that same stance existed towards every fan site/website/blog/social media feed that does the same thing.

The problem isn’t just Barstool. The problem is the idea those on the internet have that they are entitled to content, and should be allowed to use it however they see fit. Afterall, this kind of incident is by no means isolated.

In fact, content theft is so prevalent that most of the people reading this, if not all, are guilty of it and don’t even realize they’ve done something wrong. They don’t realize how much of an impact it can have on the creators behind it.

I liken these people to those who refuse to use self-checkouts because they contribute to job loss, yet don’t subscribe to newspapers or pay for advertising with local media. Since cashiers are met face-to-face, it’s easy for people to identify how they are affected by machines taking their jobs. With newspapers and advertising, it’s not necessarily as easy, because the reporters, sales representatives and design specialists work behind the scenes.

This is the same way with photographers and artists. What is often seen on the internet is their work, and so people think nothing of right clicking and saving an image, regardless of copyright and licensing, for their own use rather than paying the creator for it. They don’t understand how redistributing an image affects the traffic to a creator’s own social media and websites, which could provide them with business opportunities.

For example, I shot The Thank You Canada Tour when it came through Red Deer. I wasn’t officially there as a photographer. I didn’t have all my gear, but I managed to get a couple Instagram-worthy shots. Figure skating fans immediately started saving the images and reposting without credit across all social media platforms, adding their own edits to them and in one case creating a downloadable lock screen – using my images to drive traffic to their own websites and feeds, gaining hundreds of likes and shares while my own barely got 20.

When I started reporting them all for copyright infringement, I got hate messages from those who didn’t understand that reposting my work without credit can prevent potential clients from finding me, thus affecting my ability to make money off my own career and be able to live.

They believed I should be grateful people were sharing my work even without credit, because it was all about the people in the pictures and sharing our love for the people in the picture, the content, rather than the skill that allowed the content to be created.

The idea that content should be shared freely, and that people are entitled to it, has created an entire group of fan sites and blogs like Barstool where they do little but redistribute others’ work to drive traffic to their own sites rather than deserving creators. They get paid for website clicks, YouTube hits, so they repost rather than direct to the original content.

But if content has enough value to repost and redistribute, collect social media likes and gain followers, shouldn’t it then have enough value to be paid for?

Shouldn’t the creator be compensated appropriately?

abarrett@postmedia.com

Twitter: Ashli_28

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