I Noticed When it Comes to Public Domain….

Well the first thing I noticed, to my disgust, were the companies that are copyrighting public domain material so they can claim rights to it. Sometimes these are the same companies that will sue your pants off for so much as using the name of their song/movie/insert crap here in a blog post. I liked what one blogger I stumbled across had to say about it: these are the REAL pirates. They’re stealing from us in such a way we can’t use our material anymore and then punishing us for wanting to use what was ours in the first place.

And the second thing I noticed is the amount of websites out there dedicated to distributing public domain content. Which is wonderful. I support these sites.

But lately they’ve been starting to lean the way of the pirates. They still give you free content, if it’s small… but in the case of at least one website, by example, if you want an image large enough for you to use for commercial purposes, you have to contact them privately and pay real money. I mean real money.  You know, as if they own the copyright.

Now, I know that part of the reason for this is everyone is trying to make a living. And unfortunately there are a lot of douche bags out there who think donating $5 here and there to support what is being supplied free to the public is an insulting thing to do, and people who ask for such support are blights on society. I ran into a few people like that when I was working on my comic, Akashik – which was put up free to read on the internet and ran on book sales and donations.

It got no support. It went down. I couldn’t keep up with it anymore, not and survive.

So, anti-donation people, thanks in part to your attitude places that offered these things for free are now charging an excess of $40 or a LOT more so you can get that piece of artwork that belonged to you in the first place. Makes a lot of sense. $5 donation vs. huge commercial payout. Oh yeah. You guys are soooo smart.

So the thing I’ve noticed is that public domain – our domain, the content that belongs to the people – is in danger… because of commercialism. Because of apathy. Because of misplaced financial stupidity and selfishness. It almost makes me want to cry. You should want to cry too, and not give in to the crap anymore.

I do my best to search in the public domain first *always*.

Reason one: I believe in free, I don’t believe in SOPA or CISPA, and I get tired of the commercialism you see everywhere. I’m against the real pirates, and the only way to effectively fight against that is to try to do free and public first. I even donate some of my own stuff to the public domain.

Reason two: Public domain images are often Victorian and Georgian era artwork that are just plain gorgeous. Those artists weren’t interesting in renting use of their works. They got paid once, and then they went back to their studios *to make more* rather than expecting to cash in by using the same piece. I believe in keeping our history alive, and even though the artists back then didn’t think their work would reach more than one publication we now have the ability to reuse these masterpieces and keep their style going. That’s every reason in the world to use them.

Reason three: Public domain images, unlike the stock images you’re actually renting and not buying, don’t have a usage limit. That’s right. When you “buy” a stock image, you’re not buying it.  You’re renting usage of it, and that usage has a limit. Some places have a 100,000 usage limit. Some limit you at 250,000 copies. Either way, that’s renting for a period of time. Period. With public domain, you don’t have to worry about selling 10,000 copies of your book and suddenly having to purchase a whole new license. Which means you don’t have to waste time keeping track when you could be wasting time writing.

Reason four: There are no hidden “commercial use” costs – at least a website dedicated to the public domain that *truly believes in it* wouldn’t charge you for a commercial size image.

Public domain means free, because it belongs to everybody. And just because its free doesn’t mean it should be taken for granted – or it’s not going to be free anymore. It’s going to be costly instead.

Support public domain. *steps off soap box*