Dear Indie Authors,
It is acceptable to make Tumblr collages in which you cast Lucky Blue Smith as Draco Malfoy. Nobody will come after you for putting song lyrics on a photo of Jennifer Lawrence to express all your feels about Peeta on Instagram. Fair Use protects these exercises in fan art because you’re creating commentary without profiting or interfering with anyone else’s ability to profit off of their work.
But as soon as you slap a price tag on your work, it’s no longer fair use. As soon as you are selling your book on Kindle (even for 99¢), you don’t get to use copyrighted work to promote it. It’s illegal to rip someone’s beautiful illustration off of DeviantArt and use it as an ad for your novel on Facebook. Let me repeat: it’s illegal!
In the past twelve hours I’ve seen indies stealing art TWICE on my Facebook alone. One post was an artist who does hyper-realistic romance novel illustrations. He was ranting about someone ripping his art off of Facebook and using it as a straight-up cover for their novel on Amazon. THIS IS ILLEGAL.
He was rightfully upset, but instead of reporting it to Amazon, he assumed Amazon was in on it. This is bad, because it makes Amazon, KDP, and all indies look complicit. It gives readers the impression that we’re not professionals BECAUSE THIS CRAP IS STRAIGHT UP UNPROFESSIONAL and ILLEGAL!
That was last night around 2a. This morning I saw another flagrant case of copyright infringement in a group. Someone was using this piece by Jonas Jödicke to advertise her Native American shifter novel:
After the initial shock of, “Dude, white lady, way to be racist using a piece of fan art from a JAPANESE anime to advertise your NATIVE AMERICAN shifter novel,” I commented because I love my artist friends and family and I respect their legal rights. How would I feel if I caught someone using my mother-in-law’s paintings on their book covers? How would I feel if someone was using my writing illegally?
Authors, DO NOT DO THIS CRAP. You are a professional. You are making us all look bad. I am a professional, which means I obtain legal rights to use my cover art. Need an image for an ad that isn’t your cover? Pay for another one or go get one at MorgueFile or one of the other Creative Commons 0 places like Unsplash (where I got the dog at the top of this post) or ANY OF THE OTHER SITES ON THIS LIST. Just stop doing illegal and unethical crap like stealing from artists. We’re all artists. Let’s stop ripping each other off.
Alright. I’m going to write.
*mutters under breath*
Serious guys, I shouldn’t have to say this.