Copyright Rant

no stealingHey, it’s my stuff and you can’t just take it!

I worked long and hard and I may have failed utterly, but these are my failures and you may not use them to create something of your own. Worse, you may not take my successes; you may especially not take my successes as they are unutterably precious to me. You may not take a part of my work, or a bit of my work, or a byte of my work, or cut with your sharp scissors a section of my painting, or make a photocopy of my drawing, or download a painting of mine to use in your collage. You may not take a clever or bright turn of phrase of mine or, yeagods, an entire block paint brushesof my writing, and pass it off as your own or bury it in your text as neat and snug as if it were yours.

Sure—all creative artists glean inspiration from their environments and from other creators. But to blithely steal, to download, when it is oh so easy to do so, and to run with it—that is not what inspiration is all about. Inspiration may include copying when you are a student. Fair use enough! But to be inspired by someone else’s work – by a painting or an essay for instance – does not have anything to do with copying that image or downloading that image by means of any current or future technological device.

The great books, the great paintings, the cokegreat any things, have powerful unmistakable voices. Putting together a pastiche or collage or crazy quilt of pieces of someone else’s work does not constitute creativity. It will lack a voice. And if you do not know what a voice is, I feel for you, I really do.

Just because it is easy to do so does not mean it is okay to click, copy and download anything on this web site that I have created to use in your creative product. I am old and cranky and probably idiotic, but I slaved away in school, slaved away in soul-deadening jobs and now I write and now I paint and, like it or not (I don’t really care what you like!) my creative output is mine. I paint my own pictures. I write my own essays. My voice, for better and for worse, is my own. Now run along and get yours!

Excerpted from full essays at Flying Falling Floating.

Surrealist painter and writer Mary E. Carter shows her work (including goose girls, chicken ladies and not so winged creatures) at Flying Falling Floating. The former advertising copywriter is also a published book author.

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