I’m sure you’ve heard of the problem, creators of all forms of media upset over the growing frequency of their works being re-posted. While many know this is not a polite thing to do, I feel there are many out there that still don’t quite understand why ‘free advertisement’, as some call their re-posting, has little to no value to a creator.
I think the first problem comes from the misunderstanding of advertisement and why it has value. Advertisement is a lucrative business, people pay money for others to see their works, products or what have you. This leads people to think that advertisement, thus 'exposure’ has value on it’s own, the problem is that they don’t realize what they’re doing is, in fact, not advertisement. When one purchases ad-space from say, any of the major ad companies, they are given price options based on guaranteed impressions, impressions that, if not met, can entitle the purchaser to some other form of compensation depending on the contract made at the time of purchase. It’s worth noting that for some smaller advertisement slots, such as individual sites or project wonderful, there likely won’t be any guaranteed impressions and the cost for such advertisements are significantly lower than say your usual ad sense slot.
The second element about advertisement and ad spots is that the creator is the one that gets to decide exactly what goes into that advertisement. Rarely will you ever see a full, high res image, audio or video as part of the advertisement, instead it’ll be snippets and texts enticing you to click and proceed through the advert to read/see more. That’s the whole point of an advertisement, to get you to purchase and or view the product or content from it’s original source, so that the creator may reap the benefits of that traffic going through on their page and their work. The creator gets full control over what they show and how it’s shown, and the categories they want to be associated with. None of these benefits are possible when someone re-submits the content themselves.
When a person takes any media in it’s full form and uploads it to their site of choice, even if it remains un-edited and the creator name is mentioned, it still provides no real benefit to the creator in question. Yes, we can all see why it’s pretty awful to share things with removed creator credits, but leaving them in can still do harm to the creator so saying 'but I didn’t edit it’ is not a good defense. You’ve provided them the entirety of the content, why would they have any need to find the artist? And if you’re constantly posting other’s media, why would they have any reason to follow those creators if you’re already providing the service? And even putting traffic aside, the process of re-submitting content removes a creator’s ability to decide where that content goes and what it is associated with. And that’s on top of the problem that your re-submission of media leads to the problem of incorrect attribution of sources in other services such as image searches, repositories, and just about anything else. If a creator has made a conscious decision to not permit search engine crawling on their media, they’re allowed to do that and your re-submission will undo their efforts and right to control their creations. Above all else, the bottom line is, if you don’t have permission it’s not legal.
The other side of this of course, is the act of attempting to provide compensation by way of 'free exposure’. Once again this comes with the concept that people will pay for advertisement, which is a fairly reasonable conclusion, but fails to understand what is being paid for with advertisement. As I mentioned before, when paying for advertisements the more expensive options come with a guaranteed range of impressions and even better ones give you price per click. Saying 'well I have X amount of viewers/friends’ means absolutely nothing if you are not working with the creator to provide clicks and views on par with an advertisement agency. If you want to trade your notoriety as something of monetary value, you better be prepared to back that up by way of passing out links/business cards to every single person that interacts with/comments on/views that commissioned work as well as provide a dialog given to you by the creator, just like an advertisement. If you as an individual are unable to provide any guarantee of that nature, unwilling to do the footwork, and have no contract to ensure the creator you will uphold your end of the deal your exposure has no value to the creator.
And for the TLDR here’s a quick bullet list about what I just covered
- Conscious decision made by the creator
- Clear information and guarantees about traffic, impressions and clicks
- Drives traffic to the creator
- Gives control over content that is viewed in the ad
- Dubious or no information provided at all
- No incentive for viewers to click through or pursue the creator outside of rare cases.
- Drives traffic to the re-post, not the creator
- Disruptive to attribution and search results
- Little to no consent involved
- In the case of work-for-exposure: Makes the creator do all the work for none of the benefits of payment or advertisement
And that is why Creators do not generally like 'Free Exposure’, because it very rarely provides any benefit or traffic, at all. And no, just because there are a few creators that are fine with it does not nullify the points I’ve made, it means that they’ve made a choice for it to be permissible. That’s their content, that’s their choice.
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