Why I Stopped Posting Cartoons for a While
Every one in a while, something happens that makes you step back, take a look at what you’re doing and analyze your actions. Such an event took place for me a few weeks ago.
For over fifteen years, I have had at least some form of a presence as a web page. When the company I worked for gave me the opportunity to try this new world-wide web, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to post my cartoons to the world. I had some success as a magazine cartoonist.
It was a natural fit to me to get my cartoons out there for the world to see. There were gag cartoons I wrote which I loved, but didn’t find an audience. What better way was there to get them out than to use the web?
My presence began as a web page on my employer’s site. Soon the lawyers got involved and realized an employee with a personal web page and personal opinions could conflict with a company’s vision.
I found a place for my web page. First it was with American Online. Then it was with Geocities. Eventually I bit the bullet and bought my own domain. It’s a good thing too, because I had no idea there were other Kevin Spear’s out there. It was enlightening to search you name and find people with your name doing interesting things like being a reporter, a lawyer and urologist. I wonder if they’re mortified to discover someone with their name is a writer and cartoonist?
I was thrilled when I began getting emails from places like South Africa and Indonesia. I discovered I really could give my cartoons new life. I was willing to let non-profits and Christian ministries use my cartoons in exchange for a plug-in their newsletter and a link. I didn’t make much money posting my cartoons, but I have gotten some freelance work out of it. I figured that made up the difference.
Occasionally, a business would contact me and we would work out a deal to use one of my cartoons. I knew there were probably many others that just copied my work without asking. I figured that was the price for the publicity stealers would steal whether I made it easy for them or not.
Then a few weeks ago, a for-profit business contacted me about using one of my cartoons. As I’ve done before, I quoted a small fee in exchange for a higher quality file. Instead of agreeing, the inquirer responded saying, “I found another source.” I took that to mean he found a free source. Ironically, it was for a presentation on business ethics.
So this caused me to stand back and reconsider my policy. While I love sharing my work, it comes with a price. It’s a price I’m not sure I want to pay anymore. Maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but stealing by copying without giving someone credit just stinks!