Saturday, August 17, 2013

My screwup

I'm posting this out of sheer mortification.

Yesterday's post about the Romance Novel Convention featured some nifty images I'd bought from the RNC website which were full resolution. Because Blogger includes a setting that says something like full size, medium, etc., I thought the images downsized;many sites  automatically reduce the resolution on high resolution images. (Web images are a standard 72 dpi, but print images are 300. This is a big difference, and the reason that if you try to print web images, they look like crap.)

But the images didn't downsize. Jimmy Thomas pointed out that I'd posted the full-resolution images so anyone could copy them and basically obtain them for free.

Now, this violates the hell out of Jimmy's copyright on the images. I just bought the right to use the images for my swag and covers, so as soon as he brought it to my attention, I took them down and put up low-resolution versions.

Please, please PLEASE, if you copied the high-res versions and plan to use them, go to the RNC website and pop for the one-time $15 per image fee to pay for the rights to use them. That's a heck of a lot cheaper than being sued, which you easily could be if you haven't paid for those rights.

What's more, you could get me sued too, only in my case it would be for being too damned stupid not to realize my mistake in violating the copyright on the images. I wouldn't blame Jimmy a bit if he did sue me; he'd have every right to. (He's a nice guy, but if the post had gone viral or something, I could have cost him a lot of money. Luckily that didn't happen, but still.)

You should also be aware that ANY image, piece of music, ebook, ANYTHING you get on the internet, even if it's a cat video, belongs to the original photographer, musician, writer, etc. If you use it without the creator's permission, he can sue the living hell out of you.

And a lot of companies and creators will not hesitate to do just that.

That means if you, say, decide you're going to do a music video using a Black Eyed Peas song and half-a-dozen Jimmy photographs, you need to obtain permission from the Black Eyed Peas AND Jimmy or the photographer who took those pictures before you can post the video online. Otherwise, you could find yourself in court losing your shirt.

This is not about creators being hardasses. People like Jimmy, the Black Eyed Peas, and me make our respective livings creating things for your entertainment. But just because you've bought a copy of one of my ebooks, say, or "Boom Boom Pow," that doesn't mean you then can give it away to everyone you know.

You may think, "Hey, I bought it! I can do what I want with it!" Well, yes and no.

Let's say you bought a paperback of MASTER OF DARKNESS. After you finished reading it, you took it to a used bookstore and traded it in. You have a perfect right to do that: it's your paperback book. My publisher already got its $6.99 for that copy, and I already got my 6 percent cut of that, so we're square. You can give that copy to the used bookstore or your sister or whoever. I don't care, because I've been paid.

However, you could not take the book apart, take the pages to a printer, and make a thousand copies of my book and sell them for $6.99, because that's stealing. You only paid for ONE copy of my book. Selling 1000 of them violates my copyright, because I don't get paid anything for those 1000 copies.

People think writers and other creators are filthy rich, but in fact, most of us get paid what amounts to minimum wage. It takes MONTHS to write a book, and it's damned hard work. Creators, like everyone else, have a right to be paid for their efforts.

Now, let's say you bought the e-book of MASTER OF DRAGONS, and you put it up on your website and started charging $6.99 for it. Again, you have violated my copyright, but the damage is potentially much greater.

In the first example, you've only taken $6,990.00 from my publisher and me, but in the second example, there is no theoretical limit to what you can cost me, because you can sell that one copy over and over and OVER again, because it will never wear out.

Even if you give the file away for free, you're still costing me a huge amount of money, because every copy you give away is a copy I can't sell.

Jimmy's in the same boat I'm in. By putting the high res pics up on my blog, I could have cost him sales, even if my actual intention was to make more people aware of his website and help him sell more pics. That's why I'm so embarrassed and unhappy about my mistake.

So make sure you pay for the rights to any use you make of a creator's work. Just as you expect to be paid for your work, we should be paid for ours.

Thanks for your understanding!

Angela Knight

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