4.30.2013

Don't Want It Shared? Don't Share It.

As is par for the course on the Internet, someone got wronged and some other someones got upset. As is also par for the course, I have an opinion on it.

The guts of the story: A woman shared a photo of her children playing with their tablet devices outside, on her Facebook page:



Someone else took the photo and turned it into a meme:



The woman got upset. Enough people agree that this was "wrong" and blog posts were made about it and blah de blah.

Look: If you don't want the ENTIRE internet to see it, don't put it on the internet. It's not that anyone has the right to reappropriate every single image on the internet. They do not. This use does not fall under the guidelines of Fair Use. This is theft.

But it's also how the internet works these days.

Two months ago, I posted a cute picture of a German Shepard puppy at the airport on Instagram:



I've since seen this pic on multiple peoples' news feeds on Facebook and on meme sites all over the place. And I don't care.

Sure, I used to care a LOT when something I wrote or did was taken and used without permission. These days, I simply contact the source and tell them I'm the original owner, and to attribute me -- but if they don't, I don't care. I did feel a slight ping of "Man, I wish I'd gotten some credit." But then I realized, I POSTED IT ON THE INTERNET.

It doesn't matter what's right and what's wrong by any old definitions these days. It's not about how people are SUPPOSED to behave. It's that they do this, regardless of right and wrong -- and you are the ultimate arbiter of the risk you are willing to take.

Sure photographers, musicians, artists and everyone else owns the copyright on what they produce. The reality is, owning the copyright is not the same as enforcing it. and in this day and age, all the harping about copyright ownership does nothing to stop the reality that laws and rights aren't preventing people from behaving how they're going to behave.

My point is not "Don't share."
My point is "Get okay with sharing, because that shit ain't changing anytime soon."

The developers of Game Dev Tycoon figured this out and played to the strengths of this sea change. The game is a "Tycoon" series, where you start a virtual game development studio and grow it by releasing better and better titles. The real life developers of the game knew it was going to be pirated. So, they added some code to teach a lesson to game pirates. If you are playing the pirated version of the game, in your virtual game development studio, sales will plummet and eventually you can't continue due to piracy:


Genius.

You cannot legislate nor enforce morality. It's just plain not possible. Instead, understand it and get okay with it. You'll go much farther in life.

And if you don't like it, fine -- keep sharing and be upset all the time. But your blood pressure will be better served with understanding that this isn't like a child stealing from the cookie jar. This isn't individual behavior that can be corrected. This is social change. The sooner you realize that, the happier and more productive you will be.

Now, when Disney steals artwork and uses it to make money, that's enforceable. Sue the shit out of them.

But when the payment is just attention? Well, you can choose to get hurt, or you can choose better what you decide to share on the internet. Again, I'm not saying it's RIGHT. I'm saying it's HAPPENING whether you care or don't.

Behave accordingly.