There is currently a content creator blackout in my fandom, and seeing all those posts about art theft brought back some memories.
The art theft stories resonate with me, you have no idea.
You know, if someone was to check my ‘rules’ pages right now, they’d see this:
I don’t care about reposts, don’t worry if you spot my drawings somewhere else
Now, it might look like I’m super chill about this. That I’m not 'whining’ like those artists who 'care too much, it’s just drawings’.
The truth is I don’t care because I haven’t posted an artwork I gave a fuck about since 2011. I do not want to bother with that. It’s thankless. It’s an endless source of stress and discouragement. Why would I spend effort and time when I know the end result is that I’ll be - for lack of a better term - pissed on by entitled jackasses and by thieves?
I used to run a flash minigames website. It didn’t have much content, since I had to draw it all myself, and figure out how actionscript worked, and so on. Still, I put ads on that website, and not only did it pay for itself, it brought me a tiny bit of income too! For my own content that I had made myself, just imagine! I planned to make that little site grow and grow until it could support me and drag me out of the hell that is unemployment.
It’d see cute stories on Stumbleupon by parents who said their toddler had loved the games. That made me super happy. It was real nice for a while.
And then I got an email from a girl in Israel telling me she had seen my art sold as coloring books in her area.
That was a blow.
I mean, I’m literally an artist by trade. I have a diploma to prove it and all. I’d have loved to get paid for my art, seeing how I couldn’t fucking find a job using those skills that were apparently good enough for commercial use.
But I kept the site up for a little while, as well as my profiles on art websites, though I barely updated them. I’d ignore the thieves that sold IMVU stuff with my art on it. I’d pay no mind to the brats who sold it on Gaia Online, because it was just virtual coin. I tried to ignore the fact that some of my stuff got popular under someone else’s name.
Just drawings, right?
Anyway, my flash games could be stolen. Actually, in the general sense, it was pretty much the goal. There was my website’s logo on them, a direct link. Having them redistributed meant traffic coming back to my site, and advertising income for me.
Can you see where this is going?
Back then, there was a flash game monetization network, called MochiAds. It was cool. It allowed you to insert ads into your games, and a great many flash games websites would import MochiAds’ feed, which made for a fast and widespread distribution of the games. It was a neat service.
Except someone decompiled my games, replaced my logo by theirs, inserted ads inside them and published them as their own.
Within hours, you could google the new names the thief had given to my games, and get 500.0000 results. Accounting for all of my games, that made for millions of reposts, all of them defaced, linking to the thief’s website, monetized by them.
Of course, MochiMedia responded quickly when I reported the theft, but their disabling the ads on those games didn’t remove them from the thousands of independent websites they were posted on.
I never made another flash game.
As a matter of fact, I no longer draw.
I was never in it just for the fun. I wanted the rewards. I wanted to make art my full-time job. Hell, I went to school for that. I wanted the compensation for my effort and time. I wanted my website to grow from the 'sustains itself’ to 'sustains me’ size.
And then I realized that people could snap their fingers and steal it all. Make me look like I had plagiarized my own work. Bury me in stolen content.
I learned that, on the internet, there was no point giving your heart and soul to something you can’t nail in place.
And, more than anything, I learned to hate drawing.
But, hey! Look at the bright side! Now that I gave up on drawing, nobody will steal my art anymore!
Isn’t that great? :)