Thursday, June 19, 2008

Publishers, take note: Use virtual worlds to illustrate your books - PLUS: A challenge to content creators

Thomas L. Friedman's publisher - Farrar, Straus and Giroux - ran into serious trouble when it came time to illustrate the cover of his book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. According to Wikipedia, "the original jacket illustration reproducing a painting called "I Told You So" by Ed Miracle, depicting a sailing ship falling off the edge of the world, was changed during the print run due to copyright issues." Shown left is the book's jacket illustration for the 1st edition hardcover: ISBN 0-374-29288-4, (see below for an explanation of "fair use" in regards to the publication of this image).

Of course, Second Life® has its own frenzied DMCA and lawsuit environment, including numerous discussions about the rights of content creators who's works are photographed by others and used for commercial purposes, as reviewed in Virtually Blind's thoughtful post on virtual world copyright issues by Benjamin Duranske.


Meanwhile, in-world photographer Felony Fabre understands that we are just beginning to use virtual worlds as a tool, or even realize how many new applications can be given to our work. Just look at this image by her that popped up in my Flickr stream:

Sorry Columbus... wrong world

"I had to add the 'edge' effect in, but the coloration is mostly WindLight," says Felony. "If I could have achieved the effect in-world, I would have tried ... :)"

I just bet that there's a builder among you who could do an outstanding job of creating a camera-ready environment for Felony. In fact, I will make arrangements for the land + prims needed if I have any takers.

It's worth noting that Felony doesn't Photoshop. She prefers Paint Shop Pro and does some 'painting'. She also uses a tablet on occasion. She gets an A+ for concept in my book.


Borrowing a bit from Wikipedia's style and language, herewith, an explanation of "Fair use" in regards to this blog's use of the photographed image of the artwork by Ed Miracle for the cover of the 1st edition of the book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman, originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

* The Not Possible IRL blog is a not-for-profit online publication.
* This image is used for informational and educational purposes.
* This image is of the first edition of the book and cannot be replaced with a freely copyrighted image of comparable educational value.
* This image is the only way to illustrate the topic of this blogpost.
* This image is a low resolution image, and has no commercial reproduction value.
* This image is only a small portion of the commercial product.
* The use of this image will not affect the value of the original work.
* The use of this image will not limit the copyright holder's rights or ability to distribute the original. Copies of this image could not be used to make illegal copies of the book.

See also: Protect our Intellectual Property, Linden Lab


itolduso said...

Bettina-the images on this website are amazing. I found your article and links on copyrights issues informative and I am appreciative of all efforts to address this challenge. One aspect rarely gets mentioned though-and it's one I would like to address. Art is communication. When a person dedicates their entire life to perfecting their skills and techniques, working day after day for decades to 'find their own voice' in a blend of imagination, talent, humor,and paint, the resulting works become the artist's 'message'-individual to them, just as an author's words, or a dancer's steps can be traced back to them. New technologies can be wonderful, allowing their message to reach the world and creating endless opportunities for collaboration and experimentation, and many artists welcome these changes. Unfortunately, it also allows opportunities for harm. Ed Miracle worked his entire life to create high quality, original and technically brilliant works of art.He enjoyed a level of success that allowed him to earn a living creating art.Galleries that carried his work knew that it would be of the highest quality and would hold it's value for their clients. That reputation was destroyed when unscrupulous publishers created plates of one of his most popular paintings and flooded the world with cheap, poor-quality posters-off color, blurred and on the thinnest paper. Galleries would no longer carry his work.They will not compete with $20.00 copies. At 70 years old, he must start over. In all of the blogs that mention his lawsuit-none of them mention that the book's credits were promoting the pirates, and that they refused to stop.Hopefully, most artists will never have to deal with piracy on that scale. And for those who would like to use an artist's work-ASK THEM. Few weeks go by that I'm not responding to requests to use Miracle's paintings-he has said yes to so many. It has appeared on books,(Journeys of the Great Explorers,Portable Professor Series, Barnes & Noble), in course packs and lesson plans, on the cover of Population Press, to promote environmental & sustainability issues,on websites, supporting musicians and artists, it has been used to support non-profits, food banks, hospitals, and the homeless. And Miracle has always been supportive of other artists. So just ask. Thank You- Rose von Perbandt

Bettina Tizzy said...

Rose - Thank you for your words, and yes, that's an incredibly frustrating story. I think any artist would be devastated in a similar situation, and to have to start over at 70... it's unforgivable. I also realize that it takes deep pockets to take down said publishers with laywers on staff. There really should be a global organization, along the lines of Creative Commons, that pools resources to fight unethical commercial ventures that exploit the works of others.

itolduso said...

The Department of Justice is charged with enforcing copyright laws. The thing that angers & frustrates me the most is their refusal to act on behalf of individual artists, even when there is substantial evidence of willful, criminal violations on a large scale. They claim that it is a 'civil matter'. Yet college students routinely face CRIMINAL charges for downloading music - and many are convicted as a result of the investigations and testimony of F.B.I. agents (paid for by U.S. taxpayers)Same goes for copying movies, and sections of textbooks for class- check out the D.O.J. and I.C.E. websites and read about some of their copyright enforcement efforts and 'undercover stings'. The rights of publishers and corporations are vigorously guarded & protected for free, while the people that actually create something are left to fend for themselves.