This world leaves me spinning sometimes.

I decided to put my name into a Google image search recently and was stunned to see how many pieces of mine were being used without my permission on numerous blogs and websites.  Most of them gave me a copyright credit but some of them did not.  Somewhere in my head I knew this could happen once you put anything online be it a website or a blog or in a publication but seeing it for real was disturbing.

I can forgive the ones who gave me credit for creating a piece of art that happened to fit nicely with their poem or article but it would have been nice to have been asked first.

But then there were the magazines that should have known better. One of these magazines is a major publication that has been around for a very long time and one that I always included in my promotion campaigns.

The fact that the only way I could get my work published by them was by having them steal it is particularly upsetting.  Yes, I was credited but I was neither asked nor compensated.

For the last few years I have struggled and wrestled with, mourned over and tried to maintain a career as an illustrator.   I have questioned my talent as well as my ability to compete against younger artists born in the digital age.

I have attempted to keep a positive approach with this blog but something about seeing my work used all over the world for free in other people’s blogs makes me question the way the world works now.

Yes, it’s crucial to have some kind of online presence these days if you want to be seen or heard or read but that also leaves you open to thieves. Just because it’s visible to anyone with a computer doesn’t give people the right to use it without asking.  People don’t see it as stealing but it is.

Many people feel everything online should be available for anyone to use for free.  As an artist, I don’t agree.  It devalues what we do and removes any controls from our creations.

People like to say, but it’s great exposure!  But as my songwriter husband and creative ally, likes to say, “You could die of exposure”.

Copyright laws were meant to protect the creative.  There is also common decency.

Artists need an audience and a way to make a living. We are thrilled when you like our work but please ask first before you just take it.  We might just say okay.

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“Love Thief”  © Janice Fried

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