Thursday, August 13, 2009

Copyright Laws Make Me Crazy

Pardon me while I rant.

I'm an artist. I create images. Sometimes I would like to be able to create images from other images. Despite the internet, it is STILL really hard to find free domain images. Even the Library of Congress says it isn't responsible for the images it posts. Then tell me why again that people can be arrested for uploading music?

When I started on Squidoo there was the Flickr module. You could put in a search term and it would show any images from Flickr that matched. That lasted for about three years. Recently Squidoo has decided that unless the person uploading the image to Flickr has designated an image as Creative Commons - Commercial Use Allowed it won't show up on the Flickr module. And even more recently Flickr or Squidoo (don't have time to go find it) decided there will be no loading up of images to the module by search term anymore.

But wait, there are more levels of inconvenience! This means I can't even use my OWN art because I'm not about to designate it commercial use allowed because that means somebody can take it and sell it to somebody for whatever amount. Why would I want to do that?? (And by the way, yes, I have been paid for my work and quite well. On the other hand, derivations are okay - see below.)

I know there's nothing stopping me from just plugging in the HTML and loading them up that way but that takes so much more time. I don't want to waste that time when for years I didn't have to.

That is, if I can even get the images. There are public domain images listed on Flickr that the uploaders refuse to list as commercial use. WTF??? They don't want them to be made into collage sheets. It's. Not. Their. Copyright. They make a big holier-than-thou point of not claiming copyright, so why do they care? Don't upload anything then.

This kind of b/s has been driving me crazy since I first got interested in artsy rubber stamps ten years ago and found out that some rubber stamp companies didn't want you using their rubber stamped images on work for resale, even hand stamped. What, you're going to pay $10-12 for a stamp that you're just going to use a few times to send cards to your friends? Are you kidding me?? Then don't make rubber stamps!! Again...WTF?

And the whole no derivation clause of the copyright law. Look, if somebody seems my work and wants to make something like it, go right ahead. Every piece of art is a derivation of something. It's pretty hard to make a pure piece of art uninfluenced by something we've seen at some point in our lives. It's called being inspired.

Oh..and...if an artist sells a painting and then person who bought it sells it for a profit, does the artist get any of that money? No! They retain copyrights but they don't get any of the money. So why the hell do magazines get to say you can't use images in them to make collages out of for resale? It should be that once a magazine is sold, that is the end of their rights to any monetary gain. It's ridiculous!

I just want to make art. But I've just about had it with trying to make money from it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lensfest #2: Chicken Soup for the Soul

These are lenses about chicken soup, obviously, and feeling good. I have to admit, the Chicken Dance lens made me laugh. out. loud. And the very first chicken soup recipe lens has a secret ingredient that adds a layer of flavor that has been missing from my own chicken soup (and makes it definitely a cold and flu buster).

Here they are:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Desperate Lensmasters

I've taken Squidoo too seriously at times. When it seemed my ability to bookmark my lenses on Tagfoot would be taken away, I had meltdowns. All 3 or 4 or...however many times it's been now. Squidoo is the only income I can count on coming in every month. I never know if anybody is going to buy my art and massage clients cancel when they feel the money crunch.

I've noticed something from time to time among lensmasters. It's called desperation. I feel it too. Desperate to get that single five star rating to pull the lens out of oblivion. Desperate to get more and more ratings, backlinks, traffic, ad commissions, backlinks, traffic, comments...did I mention backlinks and traffic?

It's a virtual squid race. And you know what, it's not very attractive. It's actually repulsive.
I know I am actually driving people away even as I'm shrilly demanding that I get more attention. Why didn't more people rate my lens? Why can't I get that lens in the Top 100? Why is that lens in the 80,000s? When am I going to make that one lens that everybody wants so I can make $1000 a month or more? (Or even, when am I going to bump up another $60 a month?)

It occurs to me that this is the kind of behavior that gets me, and others like me, thrown in with used car salesman and door-to-door vacuum pushers on social bookmarking sites . Nobody OWES me a rating, or even a visit to my lens. Nobody cares that I'm poor. And they don't have to.

From what I understand, really successful people don't push themselves on the populace. They wait for people to come to them, like a lion waiting for the herd to come closer. They also don't try to do everything at once. They take little baby steps and keep quietly practicing their craft, making small adjustments to their course along the way. They don't bite off more than they can chew, expect more than is reasonable. And they don't expect anybody to give them anything.

I think THAT is the way to true success as a lensmaster. In the end the drama only leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and no increase in money in the bank.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lensfest #1: Worst Ranked Lenses

In case you didn't know, Squidoo has a mysterious internal ranking system. A lens first created enters the system at around 800,000+. The goal is to get to #1, but even getting to the top 100 or top 50 is quite an accomplishment.

The better ranked you are, the more dividends you are paid. (At least that's what I heard recently. In all honesty it's mostly a mystery to me.)

So I thought for Squidoo Club's first "Lensfest" we would celebrate members worst ranked lenses. It is interesting to see what types of lenses don't rank as well. And remember that one lensmaster's"worst" ranked lens might be a good ranking for another member.

Here they are:

My Secret Garden
Mr Prez
Paso Robles Spring Day
Lyrics: Town Called Malice
Spider Web Efficient
Virtual Music Concerts
Does Shopping and Selling Online Hurt the Virtual Economy?
Chocolate Chip Cookies are My Favorite Comfort Food
Vintage Style Tiaras and Crowns