Posted on 25 January 2013.
I get a lot of emails. That is, beyond the 1686 emails that I have currently sitting in my junk mail for the day. They cover a wide range of subject matter. There are letters from family members with photos from abroad, there are emails for advice on how to paint a goalie mask, there are emails inquiring on availability from projects ranging from film work to airbrushing. Then there are emails that catch my attention.
I read this morning, “Subject: Your Inquiry to Airbrush.com”. I am pleased. Albeit temporarily.
Airbrush.com was the first and ultimately the only airbrush forum that I frequented on a regular basis. Let’s face it, when you have the best domain, regardless of shortcomings, you’re going to attract a crowd. Airbrush.com’s worst offence was that the software used to support that forum was a little dated and the topic organization simply a giant melting pot of topics.
So, I was excited to see that there were some changes in the works, when they had posted that they were updating the site. Maybe it was updated forum software, or a more functional artist gallery. Who knew? I was excited! There is so much potential for a fresh start.
Intrigued, I started reading. The first thing that I noticed was the statement, “By submitting artwork you are giving Airbrush.com the right to use said artwork in any promotional activity generated by the website.”
That statement concerned me. First; the wording is ambiguous.
While Airbrush.com may not have intended it, that phrase could easily be interpreted this way: That one’s submitted works could be used for magazine ads to promote either their website or associated programs or classes. Likewise, the impression created is that one’s work might be printed on flyers and distributed for any and all. All this without any credit to the artist. Or so it seemed as I first read it.
As an example, the Airbrush.com features some of Vince Goodeve’s work. But his name isn’t prominent and appears to be absent, altogether.
I just happen to be familiar with his work. But most might not be. To them, it’s cool art. Anonymous art. Hardly seemed fair to me. But, I thought to myself, maybe I’m being a little harsh. It might not be the intent.
So I read on and found this; “All reviews are submitted at no charge to Airbrush.com and become the property of Airbrush.com.”
Hello, Mr. Hyde. (That would be me undergoing my triggered transformation)
So. Property. I appeal to all artists to give this last notion some serious thought.
At this point you’re essentially giving everything away. If you were to sign this in a contract you wouldn’t even have the rights to republish your own work without permission. You might even have to pay Airbrush.com (ironic) to publish your own work anywhere else in the electronic or brick and mortar world. This same bitter fate would include any images associated with said article. This is simply using an artist as a tool to make profit without any consideration.
I stress that the most that should ever be asked for here is ‘Web Rights’, not ‘First Electronic Rights’, not ‘One-Time Rights’, but essentially Airbrush.com has taken all of the ‘rights’ to your article.
At least the Devil only owns my soul.
Any of you who’ve written a review or a how-to article, are aware of the amount work involved. First you’re documenting a project that took several hours to complete from start to finish. Then you edited the photos, wrote the article, edited that and quite possibly even created a layout. That is a lot of work.
It’s a lot of work to do for free. And to have placed on a website now in full control of the rights, a site owned by an airbrush supplier who ultimately uses the site to promote their own business.
Now promoting your own business by creating a community of sorts is not necessarily a crime, not necessarily unethical. But the following statement, also in the Airbrush.com email needs critical review:
“If you enjoy the features of Airbrush.com and would like to see us continue to add valuable content, it takes time and money. If you found the information here helpful or if you would like to have something specific added to the website, please feel free to click on the donate button below and we will prioritize (sic) the content based on the donation received.”
So let me get this straight…
Airbrush.com doesn’t want to pay people to contribute meaningful content to the site, but they want people to donate because creating content take time and money?
Let’s be fair; it takes a website administrator a couple minutes to post an article that has been delivered in a neat package. So where is the time beyond the work of the uncompensated artist? A likely argument could be that it takes money to run a site; server space and bandwidth have their costs. And so on.
But. I’d suggest that with a pointer as helpful and handy like Airbrush.com, if they can’t be self-sufficient and can’t cover their costs (including paying for content) they’re doing something wrong.
The icing on the cake is the blog where Steve Bear (owner of Airbrush.com and Bear Air) calls out Cliff Stieglitz, the publisher of rival Airbrush Action with an article titled, “Your Airbrushing Sucks…….Really Cliff, Really?”, and then follows with: “Why would the man who makes a living off of airbrush artists not understand our passion and be sensitive to our struggles? The statement and the ad campaign is an insult to anyone who ever picked up an airbrush.” “Let’s resolve to not get sucked into the morass of negativity that some of our industry leaders are leading up to. Let’s all take the high road and work to lift each other up. There is no room for negativity in our passionate airbrush world.” The full article is here: http://www.airbrush.com/blog.php?s=your-airbrushing-sucksreally-cliff-really
While there’s some truth to the statement, the approach is wrong, in my opinion. Bear in a sense starts looking for a fight when stating, “The statement and the ad campaign is an insult to anyone who ever picked up an airbrush,” and then speaks of the need for less negativity. It appears to me that Bear is trying to point out a greater evil to his readers, so they might overlook the evil brew he has created in his own lair.
The whole approach of the new Airbrush.com is just wrong.
Maybe the industry leaders should look at adding value to the community versus adding profits. Instead of exploiting artist’s rights and have them work for free to maximize their profit, work with them and pay them to enable them to do more a greater works. Artists need to look at the business side of things, and protect their rights. Understand the difference between exposure and exploitation. The bottom line is that if someone is going to make money off using your work, whether it is for advertising or content, you should be paid. Trust me, they wouldn’t go a second themselves without being paid for their work. If artists and writers want to work for free I suggest an artist collective that has nothing to do with the exploitation of your craft.
Edward longs to be Henry.