ActivismRandom Asides

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, or 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.

This art is released under a non-commercial Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Please feel free to share alter and use with attribution. If you can, please link to or if not credit to Amy Davis Roth. Thanks and enjoy!

I will add more images to the folder when I have time. But already there are 120 to pick from.

These are my images currently available licensed under creative commons.

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.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. This is good, thank you. It should be emphasized that the activities of Justin Vacula and Thunderass or foot or whatever were not done in the context of legal or ethical consideration of ownership of intellectual property. What they did, they did as a form of harassment. Had nothing to do with rights or property.

    Also, I’d like to emphasize: If an artist or anyone else puts their stuff on creative commons or something similar, this does not in any way diminish the importance of other people’s claims. In the case of Surly Art, the value is in the material object itself and the value of the image is secondary and incidental. Therefore, having the images on CC actually makes a lot of sense. Maybe some of your art will appear memicly with positive messages. Hell, now that the stuff is on CC I may select a few items to illustrate topics on my blogs, with linkbacks to your store. That could be cool.

    However, some art, including writing and photography, IS the images (or copies) and putting that stuff on CC is a different kind of decision.

    1. Yes, I agree. In my case the images are in essence just copies of what are, in actuality, one of kind pieces of art. So sharing the photos and allowing derivatives in the long run actually can increase the value of the art itself and it helps me promote my work. Different issues come into play when dealing with literature.

  2. Awesome. This is a great move, Amy. I’ve long been an advocate for more Creative Commons licensing of skeptic stuff, to encourage remixing and reuse. You are setting a great example here.

  3. CC licensing is the way it should be for so many things.

    Personally you’ve done awesome explaining why you made the DCMA, and I think those of us who make artistic works here (be they ceramics, paintings, music, visual art, or iPhone games) understand where you’re coming from.

    The way you have now handled this takes the wind out of their sails now. They can no longer say “she’s silencing our free speech!!! Damn feminazis!!!”. I think although it’s hurtful, it’s good to let hate speech go unfettered because it shows exactly why pro-equality movements are still necessary and identifies who the snakes are.

    1. It would be awesome to see some concessions and cognitive shifts from you, if you really are Justin Vacula.

      1. It’s me. See my Twitter and Facebook.

        I’m not interested in a discussion here, though. I stated I made mistakes just as Amy did.

        I’m out and will stick to my flounce. Have a good day.

        1. Aside from whatever arguments there are.

          Open your mind Justin, you are sexist currently, and you need to realize this. Forget who’s the winner in any of these arguments, and take an honest look at the following questions.

          1. Is feminism needed? If so why?
          2. Do you think you act or think sexist? If so, why or why not?

  4. Amy, this shows true class. This is what should come from sincerely spending time in introspection and turning the skeptical eye one one’s self. You gathered other opinions, you found the humility to question your past actions and ideas and to honestly re-assess and make changes for the better.

    You are taking responsibility for what you now view as possible errors in judgment without pointing the finger at people for what you now see as mistakes. I really do think true skepticism is a discipline of humility and you are showing us all how it’s done.

  5. You’ve always been quite gracious when I’ve asked to use pictures of your Surlies in my talks. Particularly the “Scientific Method” one that I have! So all I have to say is, rock on :-)

  6. From an entrepreneurial and marketing perspective it’s a great move. The outcome over the next couple of months in sales and positive new media coverage would make a very interesting analytical exercise. Best wishes for enhanced and continued success.

  7. Oh wow… requests? …Could I request a self-portrai— err, an image of the Archaeopteryx fossil pendant you had way back when?

          1. eh, I can’t access it to fix it. Oh well, I’ll continue to be blank icky box on Amy’s home site where I rarely comment and everyone knows you anyway ;> but I’m wearing a shiny new avatar on the A+ forum with a link to your CC pics in my sig. Hope that makes it up to you!

  8. This is a very classy move, Amy. You took a particularly frustrating and exasperating situation and solved it through a clever kind of digital generosity, and set an example in the process. Way to be the bigger person.

  9. Cool! I always loved your stuff, even though I’m not a “jewelry person” if there is such a thing. This lets me wear your stuff virtually. I’m proud to have some of your art as my avatar.

  10. I’ve had this avatar so long that I think I need to keep it. But I love the first surly I bought so much that I named my blog after it! So I’ve added an image of a similar one to my blog, with a link to Surlyramics. Thanks so much for all you do, Amy.

      1. ok yay it’s working now, I do actually own one piece of surlyramics, but it’s with the rest of my personal stuff that I may or may never get back from my ex-wife. I guess I’ll have to buy something new in the near future.

          1. Least I can do to show my support Amy. I bought it from you in person at the Free Thought Alliance conference in Costa Mesa in 2010 I think? I told you then and I’ll tell you again, you’re an inspiration and this post does more to prove that than anything. The ability to admit that you were wrong and turn that mistake in to a positive is something your enemies are going to have to deal with. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

  11. Could (and/or would) you put up more pictures of some of the awesome coasters you’ve done? If need be, I can try to find a way to get a good picture of the Curiosity coasters.

  12. I am a little devided on this, since not sure you made any mistakes in fighting for your artwork. It’s my understanding that you where trying to protect what you intended for your artwork. And I don’t think that’s censorship. Conversely, it could be argued that those who where trying to manipulate and show your work without permission where censoring you desires for it. As it has been pointed out that these opponents who complained of “censorship” really don’t know freedom of expression is really all about. Since it was your expression they where violating that forced you read them the copywrite riot act, not the other way around. And they are still, to my understanding, are free to express their disagreements over that. You haven’t taken that way from them.

    That being said, I do agree of putting your work under Creative Commons was a really smart idea. It may prove more troublesome to your opponents, when they now have to give credit to you for the artwork they use, even for their own nefarious purposes. And as well, others are now able to retaliate on your behalf by countering with them with same artwork that they’ve have soiled without fear of friendly reprisal. Perhaps this may discourage your opponents from trying to use your work against you again.

    As a side, I’ve done the Creative Commons thingy of sorts with my artwork as well. I decided this when I saw my images I’ve designed for projects being used in positive and creative ways I never thought about…without really my expressed consent or knowledge. But it obviously had an impact on those using it to do that…and I did not want to discourage that. And none of the persons using it where for personal economic gain (at least as far as I was aware). So tldr, I think it’s a better way to go…that rewards those who do good with it, and perhaps gums up those who plan to do bad with it.

  13. I guess copyright is copyright, but non-commercial use of images to criticise someone is perfectly within fair-use. And then there’s the reality that the majority of internet users just aren’t affected by any legal obligations towards any images, artwork (or information in general) uploaded, as well as the fact that it is impossible to practically control or limit the spreading or archivation of information online. Once its out there, its just out there.

    If someone was making money copying your art, you might have had a point and a right to restrict that. Otherwise its just hot air.

    Congratulations on coming to terms with reality online and making the right decision to use something like CC.

  14. One of my quirks is to not wear jewelry. But, how practical for communicating with and inspiring people.

    Thanks, Surly Amy!

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