"You should just give away your art and share it with the world." That's the response that my artist/illustrator friend received when he kindly asked the person to remove his artwork from their site. The "online plagiarism" discussion fueled me to write about a subject that really irks me -- people who steal artwork and writing, and think they are "entitled" to it...without having to pay a dime.
My friend makes a living from his art, and I make a living from copywriting. I know there are some people who are not informed when it comes to copyright law, and not every person out there "steals" art and content on purpose. However, it's a slap in the face to artists and writers when they assume that we should just give away our talents and skills for FREE. Are they going to pay our bills and expenses, and put food on our tables? I don't think so!
My response to people who think it's okay to steal art, music, writing, etc.: Would you clock in at 8 am and tell your boss you will work for free today? Would you step into a lawyer's office and expect him to give you FREE legal advice?
Most of us who "create" for a living are freelancers and independent contractors, and we work hard to earn our money. We probably works ten times longer and harder. Because we are freelancers, that does not mean we give away our time and skills for "free".
And online plagiarism doesn't end there. It has taken over education as well. I have a friend who is a high school teacher and at the end of the year, I always ask him how many plagiarizers he caught during the school year. He said it never fails and kids don't learn their lessons. He has flunked students for plagiarizing papers. Unfortunately, the internet makes it easy for students to plagiarize, but it also makes it easy for teachers to catch their students as well (if they are diligent and cross-check facts and information).
I didn't go to college and earn a degree in journalism for the heck of it. And my friend doesn't spend hours creating his artistic illustrations for his clients because he has nothing better to do.
Please be respectful of artists, musicians, and writers, and please don't steal their work. If you want more information about digital copyright laws, check out the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) .