Do you remember that episode of The Simpsons called Flaming Moe’s where Homer shows Moe a drink that he invented called the Flaming Homer only to have Moe steal the formula and profit off it himself? There’s a scene in that episode where, after Homer feels betrayed and believes that he should have been credited as the original creator and it should have been him who should have profited from this product?
As the drink proved to be very popular and enjoyed by many, Homer, along with Marge took a trip to his solicitor to see if he could sue Moe for the credit and the money. After being told by the ever unreliable Lionel Hutz that suing would not be an option, the couple return home. Later that night while getting ready for bed, Homer starts to grumble. His annoyed grunts are met by Marge with a quaint comment to her husband to try to cheer him up;
“Well, Homer, maybe you can take some consolation in the fact that something you created is making so many people happy.”
Do you remember his response?
“Ooh, look at me! I’m making people happy! I’m the Magical Man from Happy-Land, in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane!”
He walks out, slams the door, then sticks his head back in…
“Oh, by the way; I was being sarcastic.”
Since the internet began, people have been able to upload and share things that breach copyright. In fact, if you google that quote from The Simpsons, you will see that someone has illegally uploaded it to YouTube. I was going to embed that into this post, but the irony of that wasn’t lost on me.
Back in May 2016 when I started the draft of this post which was everything up until this sentence, I was inspired by a conversation that one of my fellow Dad Bloggers started in our discussion group. Lorne Jaffe of Raising Sienna created the meme below. In our discussion group he asked about copyright of pictures used in memes that people create and was told to find a picture within the Creative Commons sphere were there is no copyright sort by the photographer. Soon after, his meme appeared on Facebook with his blog’s logo on it so that he could get the credit for this.
Although he added his mark to this, some arsehole (asshole for those in the US) went and stole his idea and made their own version about Australian politics.
I will let you on on a little secret; that arsehole was me. As Lorne is a good friend of mine, why would I have so blatantly ripped him off, and how did I think that I was going to get away with it? Well, it was to prove a point.
I shared this meme that I created within the discussion where Lorne shared his original meme. And then I explained why I copied it. In that discussion I wrote;
“You see, I like what Lorne created, but I hated that he put his logo on it, and seeing that we currently have an election of our own going on, I thought it would be good to create my own graphics and steal his words.”
Then I added;
“Can you claim ownership of something like “Prediction: By 2020 meme Wars Will Replace Political Campaigns”?”
Originally planned for this post, I felt that I needed to justify myself further as to why I felt that I could rip him off (even though, in truth, I know it’s wrong to have). So I kept posting in the discussion my thoughts about the copyright of memes and the phrases used in them. I shared a snapshot of a tweet from Jenny Vu which I found on Twitter and asked the group;
“Tweeted on the 10th January 2016; does she own this?”
Tweeted three months later. Clearly not the owner by Twitter’s standards…
Clearly one of the struggles that Twenty Struggles has is coming up with original things to tweet, but where she wins is that it’s less of a struggle for her to get likes and retweets, whereas poor old Jenny Vu, the “original” tweeter one-eighth and one-third of the retweets and like respectively. But was she the originator of this quote? Google image search tells me that she’s not.
I titled this post “The Thing That Parenting Websites and Commercial Music Radio Stations Are Guilty Of…” because, when it comes to stealing memes, either taking someone’s creation and sharing it directly on their Facebook page without crediting the original source, or taking the quote and making a meme using their own artwork and adding their own watermark, logo, or the link to their website, parenting ages and radio stations are the worst. Think about those Facebook pages you follow. I bet you’ve seen plenty of these shared.
And of course, like many clever quotes made on the interwebs, someone will invariably run with that and try to profit by turning it into a t-shirt.
The thing that returned my interest in this and made me want to finish this post six months later was another discussion within the Dad Blogger discussion group. Whether you are a parent or not, I’m sure that if you are on Facebook you would have seen the extremely funny Fowl Language Comics from the extremely talented Brian Gordon. A fellow Dad Blogger shared a meme that was created by another public parenting page that totally ripped off Brian’s “I used to be cool” comic. I have embedded a copy from the Fowl Language Comics Facebook page below.
Whenever Brian creates a new comic and shares it on his Facebook page, he includes a link in the post to what he calls a “bonus panel” which entices the likes of me and his loyal followers to click. Obviously, for him, getting people onto his website is paramount to his success in reaching more people, and ultimately selling his book. Now I’m not about to cash in on his success in any way and share a link to his book on Amazon via my affiliate link. But I do suggest that, if you want to buy this book for yourself or someone for Christmas, click here to visit his website and get the book for yourself. And if you’re not in an Amazon delivery zone, he has included links to other online booksellers like my own local Booktopia.
For those not familiar with his work, Fowl Language Comics are a play on the term “foul language” and the pun references that fact that he has replaced himself and his family with ducks, which are probably not only easier to draw, but are easier to relate to (I mean, who can related to real people, right?). From his website, he says;
“My comics are largely inspired by my struggles as a parent, my fascination with technology, science and all things geeky. Oh, and a constant, crushing wave of self-doubt and anxiety. That’s a big source of inspiration, too.”
A few days before he was notified by our mutual fellow Dad Blogger, Brian shared a comic that I can totally related to, especially since I work from home. As a joke, and to get him to allow me to talk about him in my post, I decided to rip him of myself and copy his comic verbatim. I told him that as a fan of his work I was inspired to produce my own own original comic series called Bowl Language Comics about a family of ten pin bowling pins and the antics they get up to. Here’s my first (and only) “original” comic from that series.
To see Brian’s original version of the comic, click here. Now when I say that I copied it, I mean I really copied it down to the nth degree. But I did this in jest, and hope that you do visit his Facebook page or website to check out his other work. And if you like it, DO NOT save his comics to your device and then share them on your own page, share HIS post from HIS page via the share button.
To me, giving credit to the original artist is very important. Even if the artist is already rich and famous, do not steal their work. You wouldn’t like it if someone stole something that you created and robbed you of the credit, or even worse, the financial rewards for creating the work. I have felt this way for a long time. It dates back to when I was playing in original bands in the late 1990s.
I remember that after my most successful originals band started getting a following we were gaining fans that weren’t just our friends and family. We would have people turn up to see us and actually pay to attend our shows. At our shows later in our time as a band we would have a merchandise table set up to sell t-shirts, stickers and most importantly, the demo recording that we invested a lot of time and money into making. I remember on one occasion that two guys came up to the table and one handed over his $10 to buy the demo CD and asked us if we could sign his copy. Of course we did.
His mate then told us how much he thinks that we rock. (And we did, if I can say so myself). So I asked him if he wanted to buy a signed copy of the CD.
“Nah, I’ll just burn it off him…”
Yes, he said that. He actually told us, the creators of the work, the owners of the copyright, the people trying to make money from writing songs and gaining a fan base that he would make an illegal copy off his friend.
One thing that differs in some respects is that the guy who bought our CD wasn’t going to make a copy for his mate for financial gain, and sharing the CD was in no way going to be advantageous to what he was doing. That is, sharing our CD wasn’t about his own self promotion.
But those radio stations, parenting pages, fellow bloggers and all those other companies that steal original memes, pictures and comics do so in order to promote themselves without caring about how they are robbing artists of their livelihood.
With it being just under a month from Christmas and with a few Christmas presents that I need to buy for parents I know, I reckon that Brian’s book may be heading underneath the Christmas tree of someone I love very soon.
This is not a sponsored post. I am not getting a free copy of Brian’s book and wouldn’t expect that from him. All I wanted to do is promote him and all the other artists out there that are trying to make a living from their art. Please be considerate of those people who are creating original content and share their videos, posts, memes, comics, pictures, whatever from the original source.