Last Saturday, I tore a comic strip out of the newspaper. It was the 6/16/12 issue of Zits. In it, 16-year old Jeremy is headed out the door on the first day of his first job. His mom, a scrapbooker, wants to snap a picture of this big occasion, but he isn't interested. It's pretty funny because it's so familiar. My hope was to include a copy of the comic strip here and write about the struggles we scrapbookers sometimes face with less than cooperative subjects.
As you can see, I do not have a picture of the comic strip here. It would have been easy. I could have scanned the newspaper. I could have gone to the website and done a right click copy. Actually, I did both of those things. But before I put either one on my blog, I did something else. I asked permission.
You see, I am not a thief. I don't want anyone stealing my artwork and using it without my permission, so I don't steal other people's artwork either. I used the "Contact Us" box on the Zits webpage to ask if it was ok for me to scan the newspaper and post the comic on my blog. Two days later, I got a nice reply back asking for more information. I answered all their questions (I'm a small blogger, it's a personal blog, I'm not being paid or offering payment, etc). Their answer: We're sorry, but no.
It's disappointing. But perfectly reasonable.
Sadly, stealing is so easy in the the digital age. While some of it is malicious, there is also a lot of ignorance about what is ok and what is not. It breaks my heart when I see a cool project on Pinterest and there is no link to the original source. Or when someone posts a blatant scraplift without mentioning the original designer. Or when someone 'credits' an image on their blog by saying it's "from Pinterest" or "from Google." Please, if you are not a thief, then don't steal images or rob artists of their proper credit. (If you are a thief, then knock it off.)
With art, as with everything, it's always a good idea to do unto others as you'd have done unto you.