So while browsing Twitter I see more and more tweets about artists wanting some credit for their work in one way or another. Even though I’m far from an artist, I can totally understand that. But it’s still a matter of how much.

Most democratic countries protect their artists by giving them the right to decide what happens to their works. They own their work and as such can decide who can use it and who doesn’t. However, this has its limits. Since others have the right to modify works of others to create their own kind of work.

It gets even more messy if someone directly uses their work. If you use someone’s work commercially, you should of course ask them and if neccessary offer some sort of payment, that goes without saying. Also put their name on it to let others know. Simple enough, but that’s easy to forget.

But the real problem is if you like an art and kinda want to “keep” it. Say you see it on any of the dozens social media sites or a site specifically for artists. Sure you can probably like it and keep it in mind. You can share it with others by reblogging it usually. But say you find it on Google without source, then what? The easiest way is to save it on your computer. That way you can categorize it how you want and it’s easy to find through folder structures, names or tags. Later if say you have the urge to show it to others, you can easily access it. The main problem here is, that the artist won’t see much reward. The only thing he receives by this process is advertisement. That however is pretty important if you ask me.

I understand that artists want some sort of payment for their works, but that’s pretty difficult in and on itself. Realistically speaking it’s pretty much impossible to restrict to not use one’s work freely. If you upload a picture on the internet, it’s there and easy for everyone to access. Even if you kinda protect it so others can’t download it directly, there’s probably always a simple way around it. It’s also problematic for others to go back to your works if they can only like and reblog it. It’s not like every artist uses the same website. And as users seperate from certain websites after a while, they easily forget. Say someone wants to dig up a picture on the internet but forgot where he found it. Sure he can dig through 10 sites before he found the correct one. But if he saved it, that’d be way easier. That probably sounds harsh from an artist’s perspective, but I think that’s how it is realistically speaking.

Other personal use is pretty diffcult too. In Germany for example, it’s technically legal to download and watch movies. It’s kinda a grey zone, but still not made illegal as far as I know. You can also watch it with friends. You just can’t stream it publically or commercially. So technically it’d be perfectly legal to use any work of art from the internet as a wallpaper for your home. The only thing artists can do is ask others for some kind of compensation. I don’t know how this changes for the digital appearence of someone through the use of works of others. I think it’s more in the artist’s hand then.

In my opinion the best solutions for now are still signatures on the pictures or on the file itself. I don’t even know if the later one is possible, but it’d be nice.

It’s really a difficult topic for me, because I rarely think about it. Even now it was hard to get my thoughts in order. There’s so much to think about first. Like the technical limitations or different rights for people. Musicians already have spotify to profit from the fast internet and its impulsive users. Unlike other artists who can only hope to get money for their works through donations like patreon. (Wait, did I just find a market gap?)

Lastly dear artists, keep in mind that sharing is also some kind of advertisement. Companies pay money for that and the fast moving and free to use social media sites are more a joy to small artists. If your skills are good, this is exactly what you need to gather fans.

Written on April 22, 2017