instagram let defend intellectual property feautured photo of a cat with a cartoon bubble of thinking

Over Christmas break, in the midst of the euphoria of good intentions and good things, something happened that really struck a chord with me. I follow many carvers on Instagram and they are an endless source of eye candy and inspiration for me.

One of them, Dan Riggott aka @Danhero, one day posts an Instagram stories saying that a video of one of his recent original creations, was “stolen”. 😔😤😡

Someone took this video and reposted it on various social media. The video reached (in those days alone) more than 4.5 million views. 😳😱 This is confirmation that Dan is an incredible artist and that his genius and imagination have the power to captivate many people even outside of the Instagram carving circuit.

So all is well, you might think. But no. The “nice” person who created all this has “forgotten” or let’s say omitted to say that he was not the owner and has not mentioned Dan at all in this whole circus. 🤬

This isn’t just missing out on personal opportunities that may come after a video goes viral. It is not only frustrating but it is something more. It is illicit and it is deeply disrespectful to the person who gave so much to create that subject.

Unfortunately, I see similar situations on Instagram every day. Dan is one case that with 4.5 million views makes more headlines, but it’s also something that happens to many other people on a regular basis. The sad thing is that sometimes the “crime” is perpetuated even among carvers themselves. 😔😢

Perhaps you are led to think that when you publish something it becomes public domain, which is true, at least in part. But when I put a gnome in my garden, therefore exposed to the public, would you dream of stealing it? This is primarily about EDUCATION.

Another form of rudeness is also when you follow a tutorial, whether video or paper, carve the subject and blithely post it without mentioning the original author who inspired you.

I did a search. Taking only these super classic beginner carving subjects as an example:

They can be found in pretty much 80% of carver profiles on Instagram. Almost all of us started here. But only about 30% of those, cited the source. Does that sound fair?

Perhaps, you careless people, don’t know that there is a lot going on behind the scenes of a project:

  • an original idea. It may seem trivial but not all people have the imagination and ability to create an original subject.
  • artistic preparation. Whether it’s just the drawing or actual woodcarving it takes knowledge, study and a lot of commitment.
  • A feasibility check of the subject. As Vladimir, @homewoodspirit, explained in his interview, many carvers, like him, prepare a model in plasticine or clay before carving the subject. It serves to draw cleaner lines and use three-dimensionality properly.
  • woodcarving work. Whittling a subject takes a lot of time and specific skills are needed. It is not by chance that those who are trained in spoon carving have difficulties to get out of their comfort zone and whittle figures for example, or the other way around. There are different branches of woodcarving and not everyone is prepared or comfortable with all the variations even if the same tools are used.
  • filming or photographing. This is an extra difficulty in the case of tutorial production. You have to stop work a thousand times looking for a shot that makes the point or has the right light. For those who make videos, it’s not just about pointing a camera and whittling, but you have to have the ability to entertain the audience, to be able to explain what you’re doing in a comprehensive but not boring way.
  • post production. Once you finish the subject you are left with photos to select and possibly retouch. In the case of a video, however, we move on to the editing phase. Here you must have notions of videomaking to proceed with the cuts to streamline the video without deleting important parts and create attractive covers.

At the end of it all, you share the project. Not to mention the cost of woodcarving equipment, photos or videos, programs, or a website. This content is almost always shared for free, because there are enthusiastic people who want to help, who take pleasure in keeping an enjoyable art alive.

We users look at the subject and think: how cute do I want to try! An hour of video and we’re holding something to share with friends. It was easy wasn’t it? Doesn’t it occur to you to say thank you to the person who gave you the opportunity to do something, that obviously if you followed a tutorial, you didn’t know how to do before?

It sounds crazy but no. The words “from an idea of …“, “thanks to … for the video“, etc., just don’t come out.

I don’t make videos, precisely because I don’t think I possess the necessary qualities. I started by whittling a panda. I made a variation by taking a cue from @douglinker‘s tutorial.

When I published it I was filled with excitement and gratitude and couldn’t wait to mention it! And I will always be grateful to Doug, because through his work he gave me the opportunity to try my hand at something new.

Starting with a subject already studied by someone is a great help because it gives you the basics. From these you can start to study, grow and evolve, then start to think for yourself. Seeing your final result and the one made by the artist gives you another important thing. It’s a yardstick. You can immediately see how far you are between your own and his abilities.

To this day, I still really enjoy watching tutorials and sometimes, if the subject is appealing, I like to experiment with it. It’s not just something you do as a beginner. It’s a study opportunity, it’s like a refresher course. Every time some interesting detail can come out or something you didn’t know.

When I have ideas of my own I like to share them with others or I wouldn’t have started a blog! 😎😂 I find it hard to explain how I made a certain thing so I limp a bit on the tutorials. When I can, as in the case of the clock or Christmas decorations I am happy to do it. ☺️

So I find myself on the side of Dan, or Jack, or Vladimir (and many others) and understand how much love and dedication they share their work with. I’m happier than ever when someone writes to me that they tried to replicate some of my subjects and shows me the photo, or simply when I see that they remembered to write down where they got the idea.

Similarly, I get frustrated when I blatantly see my subjects posted as someone else’s original ideas. I have the same reaction when I see for example @cousinjackcarves‘ angel shared everywhere under Christmas, without a shred of thanks.

Gratitude is an important thing. In a fast-paced world that focuses only on notoriety and profit, it is even more so. Citing sources isn’t lame, it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, it’s the only way you can say thank you for the help that came from other people’s work.

Saying, “I made this from the idea of…” doesn’t devalue your work; rather, it recognizes you as people who honorably enter a welcoming community, like a big family always willing to help you.

Also, to think that you’re going to be famous for running a photo that isn’t yours by not stating the source is lame. You didn’t create anything, you just stole a gnome from a garden not yours. Do you feel good about your conscience? The artist remains an artist and you have done nothing edifying, least of all for yourself, so why do it?

I hope my readers are among the 30% enthusiastic about citing sources, if not, I’d like to think this article has opened your eyes to what’s involved in something you may think harmless or hadn’t thought enough about.

Being among the “betrayed” adds frustration to frustration. Trying to complain by saying, this is my subject, even when it’s blatant, is a witch hunt. There are no patent laws it’s all based on common sense.

Instagram, like other social, is trying to protect the intellectual property of its users, but there is still a long and winding road ahead. Only by showing ourselves to be compact and active in reporting will we help the system work better. For now, we just have to watch our shovels.

So I ask you: take care of your family! Denounce, report, comment when you see other people’s ideas used. Always cite sources or ask the author. Tomorrow you may find yourself in the same situation as Dan, remember, Karma can be an ugly beast! 😉


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