We send along our best wishes that you enjoy all the beauty the holiday season brings to your neck of the woods. Here's what it looks like around here these days:
I am asked frequently about this. It's an epidemic. People are having their website content and images stolen and used on other websites and on other products and services.
You cannot 100% prevent your work being stolen. Anything visible on the computer screen can be "grabbed." However, you CAN make it a lot harder for thieves to steal and taking a few precautions can go a long way towards slowing them down:
- Copyright your work and images, individually or as a group. It's not expensive or difficult, it just takes a bit of time. You will need to gather info about each piece of work to document it. Yes, your copyright exists from the moment the work is created. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation.
- Make sure the images you use on your website are the smallest file size possible that still look good. Why? Besides loading more quickly and making for a smoother browsing experience for your visitors, a small file size means that the thieves won't be able to use the image for much of anything.
By "small" I mean in the 200-400 kb range for a large image with a lot of detail. Small images (an inch or two across on the screen) can be 50 kb or less. Using large high resolution files doesn't always make the image look better, they just slow down your website and make it easier for thieves to use them for print (reproductions, postcards or notecards).
- Another way to protect your images is to visually watermark them (via Photoshop or an online watermarking service) with copyright info or a logo, large enough to see and over an area of the image that would pretty much make the image unusable if the copyright info was cropped out. Also, it's difficult to edit/airbrush out copyright info that's part of the image. Most thieves are lazy, otherwise they'd work for it like the rest of us. Slow them down by making it difficult for them to use your images.
- Digital watermarking and fingerprinting is available and can provide identifying info embedded within the image (visible or not). The embedded info is "persistent" but not impossible to remove (nothing is it seems). Digimarc provides the means to communicate copyright info and track your digital images across the web. They also have plans for anti-piracy protections for publishers and authors, and their system can search the internet for copies of your work.
- Use Copyscape or a similar service to search the web for your content. If something gets stolen, you'll want to FIND the thieves. TinEye can help with their reverse image search engine.
- If you find an image that is being used without your permission, the first step is to contact the user with a "cease and desist" letter. That usually works. If not, you can pursue other avenues if you want. If you don't, at least the image is identifiable as yours and think of it as free advertising.
- To take legal action, get some advice from a good copyright attorney first. I've had clients work with Rebecca Prein, and there are other attorneys who can help put you on the right path.
Here are some resources to help you copyright your work, know what to do in case of theft, and use Creative Commons licenses.
US Library of Congress - United States Copyright office for copyright registration. http://www.copyright.gov/
Creative Commons - Non-profit organization providing creative licenses for image works. http://creativecommons.org/
I use these two truths every day of my life, and I recommend them to you too. The two together are so very powerful.
Truth #1: When you pay attention to something, put energy into that something you will move in that direction.
Truth #2: Newton's First Law. An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.
Here's an example: When in training, beginning race car drivers tend to focus on NOT hitting the wall. And guess what happens? They hit the wall because they’re focused on the wall (even in a “don’t go there” sense). But if they ignore the wall and focus on making the turn guess what happens? They make the turn (sans wall).
Same principle applies to pilots flying from here to there. True statistic: How much of the time is an airplane off course? Most people guess numbers like 3% or 10%. Actually, they are off course over 95% of the time. They get there by course-correcting as they go along.
These two truths work for everyone in every situation. Focus on what you want (not what you don't want) and get yourself in motion. Then, course correct as needed. You know, set some goals (the focus), get working on them (the motion). You WILL make mistakes. You will get off course. Remember that nothing is written in stone, you can always change what isn't working.
Stop saying things like "I don't know what I'm doing." "I'll never get there." “I’m a starving startup.” "I'm a starving artist." Guess what? Poof! You won't know, you'll never get there, and you'll starve. Say it long enough, focus on it long enough and you’ll get your wish. Seriously.
Focus on where you want to end up, think about it, write it down, talk about it, visualize it, expect it. Get r-e-a-l-l-y familiar with it. Marinate in it.
Try it, give it some time, see if this works for you!
Here's what we do for ourselves and our clients to help save money while getting top-notch products and services.
Every year (or every six months if we're feeling ambitious) we review all the recurring fees for products and services we use (both for business and personal), there are often quite a few. We ask if it's still needed, and if so, we look to see if how we use the service may have changed. Sometimes we can downgrade a plan because we don't need all the bells and whistles any more. Sometimes there are new ways to get the same service for free. Many companies add new, and cheaper, plans too.
Services to look at include software subscriptions, email broadcasting, video storage, backup systems, website hosting fees, phones, fax routing, magazine/newsletter subscriptions, cable/satellite TV, internet, and computer/equipment maintenance plans. The last time we did this we saved over $800 for the upcoming year.
I suggest adding a reminder to your calendar and then go for it. You'll be surprised!
I have heard that artists and creatives live tortured, angst-ridden lives. I'm very creative but I've never thought of myself as either tortured or angst-ridden. Well, not usually.
So now that Harry and I have found ourselves working with lots of kindred spirits (creative types), which I absolutely love, I question it more. Does artistry alway lead to anguish and suffering?
So with that question in mind I recommend to you this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love). She says,
“We’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish. And the question that I want to ask everybody here today…Are you comfortable with that?”
Nope, I am not comfortable with that. Neither is she. Watch this, it's a goodie.
Keeping your computer skills sharp is important and a smart thing to do. Surprisingly, most people don't improve their computing skills over time, believing that they can "get by" with what they already know. The problem is, they pay dearly for it in lost time, money, and productivity.
Even if you have staff to take care of your computing needs, YOU still need to have good skills so you don't end up spending three days trying to print out address labels like a client of ours did. True story. Why on earth she didn't ask me to do it I'll never know. Three days of her time gone! It would have taken me about 30 minutes. Go figure.
So when you do it yourself, at least have the skills to do it in a reasonable amount of time.
No, you don't have to know everything but you should have a solid grasp of the basics. Take a computer class at a local college or learning center (or at the Apple store if you have a Mac), use the tutorials that come with your computer and software, or learn everything from basics to advanced by using the lynda.com video tutorials. Why? They're the best. They do a fantastic job, it's deductible (!), and it's really fun too.
I'm just sayin. ;-D