Free the Art
I have been doing a lot of thinking about the issue of fair use and the issues surrounding censorship since I wrote this post on Friday. I have had conversations with a few people whom I have much respect for, who have helped me to understand where I may have made some mistakes in my handling of the situation when my art was used without my permission.
I have decided to do something that I hope can set the stage, to not only make things right, but to make the internet a better place.
I have decided from here on out to release all my photographs of Surly-Ramics jewelry under the noncommercial Creative Commons attribution-ShareAlike license. That means you all are free to share, copy, distribute and transmit the photos of my art and to remix them as long as any derivatives are released under a same or similar license. This means you can even adapt the images to make new art. So you can photoshop, collage, use it as your avatar, print and hang on your wall, make art from the art, whatever you fancy. The only conditions that apply are you must attribute the work to either Amy Davis Roth, surlyramics.com or surly.etsy.com and if you make art from my art you must also release it under a creatives commons license.
I have made a folder on my flickr page called, Creative Commons Surly Amy Art. So far I have put 120 images of my work in it. It even has the James Randi Skepticism poster art I made in it.
I will add more images to the folder when I have time. But already there are 120 to pick from.
What made me do this?
When I originally asked for my images to be removed by the people who were treating me terribly, I had thought that, as an artist I had rights to protect my work since I use it to make a living and because I created it. Artists sometimes have an unrealistic and emotional tie to the work we create. We put so much time and love and energy into the pieces we create that it is sometimes difficult to separate oneself from the work itself. When those angry people started using my images to mock and belittle me I felt like they had actually stolen something from me. They were playing with my children (if you will) or my toys without my permission. I felt robbed. I didn’t care so much what was said about me, yes it was awful and there were many inaccuracies and the people did some other extremely terrible things, but I cared much more that they took my art without asking. So I tried to get it back. I wasn’t intending to stop critique about me or censor anyone, I just wanted what I created used the way I felt was best. Clearly, at the time, I did not realize that the images of the art are not as important as the artist, the art itself or issues surrounding free speech on the internet. In fact, free speech never even entered into my mind when I asked for my images to be removed. I felt robbed, and I wanted my images back. But that kind of a control battle is not something you can ever win, especially online. I realize that now.
I also realize that it is far better in the grand scheme of things to let the images go free. The art itself still exists and I will continue to make it as I always do, but the copies and images and derivatives are free to a life of their own. It’s better that they are out there. It’s better for me in the long run and for the creative process for all of us and for freedom of information as a whole. Perhaps my images will inspire art of their own or inspire people to think about things in a different more critical way which is the whole gosh-darn point of my art after-all. You can not stop a thief from stealing but by trying to police my art online I successfully discourage good people from doing good things with my art instead. That is not at all my goal.
As I type this, there are only a few tiny, angry men using my images in an attempt to belittle me, I HIGHLY encourage the good people of the internet, and my friends and readers alike to take my images from this day forward and post them wherever you can, whenever you like. Use them as avatars, post them on Facebook and Google+, use them to make new art, share them with friends, use them to illustrate your blog posts, just please attribute to me. I can never stop the pathetic, hate filled losers from stealing and trying to make my life uncomfortable with my images but I can encourage good people to have fun and to be creative and to be inspired with my art.
This is my attempt to make things right. I have hopes that there are more good people than bad out there and that when my images show up, it will be with more positive messages attached than negative. Help prove me right.
Click here to grab an image or two.