Are we going to have to have another talk about how it’s important to credit and attribute work, and how you shouldn’t engage in copyright infringement (reposting material from other sites in full, for those of you who are vague on the topic)? Because I would like to NOT have to have that talk with you again, since it feels like we just had it.
Oh, we are? Okay.
So here’s the thing: It’s important to maintain attributions on people’s work, and if a work isn’t attributed, to search out the identity of the creator. Because people deserve to be credited for their work, no matter who they are or what the work in question is. I’m sorry if an artist’s name destroys the look of your precious fanart blog, but it is not acceptable to repost creative works (art, photography, articles, videos, etc.) without crediting their creators, the people who worked hard on them, who put serious energy into them. Those people deserve credit on an intrinsic basis because they should be recognised for their work, and for many of them, because their work is also their means of financial survival.
And copyright infringement. Tumblr. I get that Tumblr culture encourages reprinting of someone else’s content in full, which is the whole point of the reblog button, and that’s something one considers when posting here. (I, for example, write this in full expectation and awareness that this post will be reblogged in full by people who are not me, displayed on sites that are not mine—this is part of Tumblr culture and it is part of the structure of how the site works, and I agree to that, as long as the attribution is maintained and people know where this came from and who wrote it.)
But when you’re talking about works published on other sites, you cannot actually wholesale fold them in to Tumblr. You can’t lift entire articles, blog posts, and other works and publish them here—unless, of course, they’re published with a Creative Commons license, you have the permission of the owner, or the work includes a clear indicator that the owner encourages distribution in full (usually with attribution and often for noncommercial use only). Doing that is copyright infringement, just so we can all make sure we understand what is happening here.
And while there are a lot of problems with copyright law in the United States and how it is administered, this is actually a pretty clear-cut issue. When you republish things written elsewhere here, you harm the original content creator (especially when you do so without attribution or you strip the attribution from a full-length piece someone else has published). Many people are directly compensated in terms of how many pageviews they bring into a site, while others are ‘valued’ in terms of pageviews and the kind of traffic their pieces get. If a writer’s traffic is all going somewhere else, that writer won’t be commissioned anymore. And surely if you’re reprinting a piece you like and want to support a writer, yes?
Even if it’s ‘just’ a blog or other nonpaid work, writers who aren’t working for money deserve respect as well. And many of those writers use their unpaid work as a form of resume or clips, and thus count on controlling where it appears and how it is used. When people search for something someone wrote, it’s important for them to land on that writer’s website, not somewhere else.
This is not just a funny little ‘quirk’ or ‘preference’ of mine—it’s pretty common for most bloggers to feel this way, given that they own the content they produce and have the law on their side on this one, which is why writers who do not indicate with a Creative Commons badge or other signifier that they encourage reprints of their work.