By now, you’ve probably heard of this week’s internet soap opera involving The Oatmeal and Funnyjunk. If not, here’s the original post, andÂ an article from Ars Technica describing what happened next.
The story has provided plenty of fodder for discussion, especially concerning copyright. What’s interesting is the turn some of the conversation has taken. For over a decade, we’ve been told by copyright skeptics in academia and the tech sphere that copyright is irrelevant to creators, that people don’t respect copyright because they don’t believe in it, and that “it would be both unjust and impractical to hold companies whose systems happen to automatically transmit or store the content responsible for words they didn’t write, pictures they didn’t take, or videos they didn’t create.” The underlying premise adopts an either/or approach: you can have copyright or the Internet, but not both. It sets up a false dichotomy between established creative industries, who prefer the former, against digital natives, who prefer the latter.
But if there’s one encouraging aspect from this story (besides the generous donations made to two charities), it’s the growing awareness that copyright issues are notÂ so reducible to such binary thinking.Â Consider the followingÂ popular comments on one of the Reddit postsÂ for thisÂ story. The first is currently the top comment on the site:
I just wish Reddit would take more time to realize that rehosting images like this actually does hurt the original content creators.
Sure we go all out and harp about “Linking to the Source” . . . etc. etc. . . but the truth is that anything linking to a source will only get a fraction of the traffic that original submission will receive.
NextÂ is a responseÂ to user Roflzilla, who wondered, “I am curious what Funnyjunk’s side of itÂ [is]Â though.”
There IS no other side. Sites like Funnyjunk, memebase, and, yes, even Reddit profit greatly from the theft of art and other great things. Youtube managed to turn it around and share the profit thus making nice with everyone (users and content providers), but they too were built on theft while hiding behind the myth that it’s hard to police content.
The following includes two responses:
You do know that imgur operates the same way that funnyjunk does right? And you all post deviant art, SMBC, XKCD etc on there then to reddit where imgur makes bazillions in profit and nothing for the artists… Yet you seem to give a shit now?
Great point…Â Maybe more people will realize what goes on and this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.Â Hopefully people that do see that this happened + the comments and be a little bit more mindful about what they post online.
I’m guilty of putting stuff on DA but I’m glad I haven’t done it in awhile.Â Even websites like shutterfly do the same thing.Â You upload a photo, they make money on you buying shit from them.Â Bastards.
They give a shit when it’s someone they like but when it comes to piracy or other copyright infringement they make posts about excercising their natural right to download anything they like
Finally, an exchange that is short and to the point:
Is having a user upload the Oatmeal’s material to FunnyJunk and FJ making money off of the advertisement different from having a user “upload” (insert content here) on to the PirateBay and PB making money off of the advertisement?