As many of you know, my hubby Luis Escobar is a 19-year veteran artist for The Simpsons TV show. He loves his job, puts a LOT of work into what he does, and he even takes time to blog every week and share everything from artwork to his geeky obsessions. A friend alerted us to a YouTube user who put up one of Luis’s parody cartoon GIFs trying to pass it off as his own and having created it with his “uncle.”
Obviously we had a problem with this because it’s stealing (and lying). The original GIF was created and posted by my husband at his blog: http://www.luisescobarblog.com/slowly-losing-my-sanity-superman-supergeek-and-a-frog/
Luis would’ve been fine with the fellow simply linking back to his blog and giving proper credit, but it wasn’t done (though, in the far left corner of the GIF you can see Luis’s blog URL).
I know the internet is kind of the Wild West, and images are produced, used, and swiped on a daily basis. I like to use pictures and images for my blog, and I either use public domain pics, license them from stockphoto sites (there’s a FREE category, y’all), or at least point readers to where I got the image from and give proper credit. If I am ever contacted by someone who wants an image down because of infringement issues, I would oblige (though this has never yet happened to me). I recently read a post by fellow author Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali who’s had an issue with her blog posts being curated at another site (see her update HERE and how it was eventually resolved). Someone copying your work can be an annoyance at best, and a huge problem at worst.
Sometimes we’re busy, and we can’t be everywhere at once. It can be hard “monitoring” the interwebs to make sure our artwork, writings, etc. aren’t being improperly used or outright stolen. So what are a few ways to protect ourselves (especially if we don’t have an army of lawyers or sophisticated detection technology)?
- Make it clear on your website/blog that the content is yours (e.g., copyright 2012 by Alesha Escobar) and that permission must be obtained before using, copying, or reproducing the content. I’m willing to bet most people are reasonable and would respect this. Luis has been contacted in the past by people who wanted to use some of his artwork for various things, and he’s usually very gracious about it.
- You might want to back up #1 by disabling others’ ability to copy or cut-and-paste with a handy plugin at your website (Yeah, yeah, I haven’t done this part, but it does give me much thought…)
- Google Alerts can be a handy tool. Not only can you customize it to alert you to when your name, website, or content pops up at another website, but it’s also useful in terms of social media, making connections, and market research. While we’re on that, don’t sleep on Google Images either. I’ve found that I get a lot of hits on my website not just from search terms or backlinks, but also from people clicking on Google images while doing searches.
I know there are a few other methods out there. Do I have all the bases covered, or is there anything else?