This is a heartfelt post, one that strikes a chord with many an author. It isn’t personal for me yet, and I can’t say how I will feel should the situation one day arise, but I will say I am one hundred per cent with her in principle. Stealing is stealing, calling it piracy doesn’t negate this by Sparrow-washing it into coolness.
I have to admit I think she is kinder – she has a fan base, so perhaps she feels she needs to be – than I would be. I think entitlement is part of the human condition. I see it everywhere, in friends and family and even, yes in myself. I don’t read certain online magazines because they refuse to pay their writers, I don’t shop places where I know they treat their workers poorly no matter how cheap they are, but I can’t claim my clothes are all fair trade and I can’t pretend I’ve never watched a pirated film. We’re all guilty of taking what we need or want, when we want it and finding ways to justify it.
The internet has made stealing that much easier, in fact its so easy that not doing it is almost impossible. Kinda like resisting eating grapes at the supermarket. When I first started this blog it never occurred to me to think about where my pictures were coming from. But that’s somebodies art. Somebody’s time and effort.
It can feel like one big scrapbook and we’re all throwing our scribbles out there, for everyone’s pleasure. Is sharing stealing? If we acknowledge credit is that good enough? Where does appreciation end, and theft begin? Is the dividing line somewhere in the profit margin? There is an allure to sharing, to putting stuff out there for the sheer joy of it, and I don’t believe that most of us want to define ourselves by the bottom line. The idea that we can be read, loved, call ourselves writers and artists regardless of whether its ever earnt a penny is one many feel naturally drawn to, but I’m not sure we should be quite as dismissive of money. First we all need to pay the bills, second it takes time, time we waste at work if we’re not getting paid to create. But more than that I would question the belief that money is what is involved when writers sell out, stop creating art and just churn out pulp. Maybe its a working class ethic, but whenever I know I am getting paid I want to be ten times better than I was. I don’t proof this blog, I don’t check my apostrophes. I write, give it a quick read through and post. This IS my scrapbook. Its fun, it gets my creative juices flowing and hopefully it might spark something in other people or just be a fun way to while away ten minutes. I put this here to be free, to be shared, read, I’m asking for nothing, and in truth I don’t believe I have the right to ask for anything, because this is not a product, it’s not finished, polished, nurtured or matured.
The terrifying thing to me is that unpolished as this may be, its still frequently head and shoulders above the things I read on professional sites. Online newspapers and magazines with global readership. Many have taken to posting blog posts, opinion pieces and human interest stories written, I can only presume, by up and coming writers for free. And no one is proofing them. I’ve read some – actually I have attempted to read some that literally did not make sense. And yet the reason I attempted this read was because a friend shared it.
Maybe I am alone, but I value good art, I treasure great art. I’m all for the wonder of the internet as an inspirational springboard, spitballing ideas on wordpress and brainstorming via tumblr, but we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to steal or to stop striving for better. Sarah Madison claims we’re hungry. Kinda like a dieter on a mission to sin, I find the best cure for hunger is satisfaction. That’s rarely achieved by more, rather by better. Ten stale biscuits or one slice of creamy cheesecake heaven? Guess which is likely to be free.