It has become very apparent in recent years how social media, particularly during election campaigns, has empowered the wing-nut body politic. It used to be kept at a certain level of decorum and higher standard in the days before the Internet when letters editors separated the readable public commentary from the rantings of idiots. Social media, many argue, has democratized free speech by giving everyone with the ability to type words on a keyboard or into a “smart” phone a voice. Problem is, the idiot voices on social media now overwhelm the sophisticated commentary making it next to impossible to find any worthy substance in it. It is a forum for throwing around opinions and insults, a place to promote bigotry and accusing people of racism (and every ism for that matter). Where the wild frontier of unregulated virtual freedom of expression gives amnesty to pirates of intellectual property. It has become by default, a zone for which polite engagement is automatically greeted by rude and boorish behaviour. Pssst, there’s a soft-spoken mantra in newsrooms when it comes to dealing with this sort of aggressive online agitator: Don’t engage with them. In the vastness of cyberspace, the warning is don’t feed the trolls.
Introducing James Stewart, not the famous Hollywood actor, but “Teflon Jim”, as he goes by on Facebook. I had an interesting encounter with him on Facebook today that I’d love to share with my readers. Bottom line is, Jim doesn’t think it’s wrong to download cartoons or any image from the Internet and slice and dice those images and repost them on his many Facebook pages for his adoring audiences. He claims he’s got the captains of Big Social Media backing him up on this copyright free-for-all. While he denies altering my image, he says he downloaded the cartoon in some state, refusing to remove it at my request, and adding that I should be grateful he’s giving me the exposure to his FB audiences. Yeah, shame not on him, but shame on me for asking to remove my vandalized intellectual property. In this case it’s the artist defending his work who’s the troll in Jimmy’s world.
His view of artists, I found, is not very glowing, particularly for a card carrying member of the Green Party. Here’s some of James’ messages to us regarding our work:
If you post something on Facebook, it becomes public domain. People can do with it as they please. Those are the rules, please learn them. And whether or not you get your “Panties in a Knot” over it, the situation will always be the same.
You should be proud if someone shares your stuff my friend. If they go further to download it and send it out as something special, you should be more proud.
Yet nobody is going to put up with your whining and complaining “Mine Mine Mine” on Facebook. Just a fact. Also the rules.
It turns out he’s had other run-ins with others who’ve stumbled on their own work modified on his page:
I got the same crap over the artist who made this photo for a group he was in. Excellent Photo and very relevant to my group. This I did alter, taking his group name out of it, and it has been the front photo on my most popular video.
He demanded I quit using it, and even complained to Facebook after I told him to shove it! They sided with me, and I am glad: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201925658244310&set=o.202199749840008&type=1&theater
After I mentioned to him that I found it quite rich when people who are first to scream out against the unethical behaviour of those in authority prove themselves to be unethical, James answered back:
No in fact this has been discussed at great length and decided upon. The only people who give a rats ass about it are the artists.
*Note for Artists*
Do not share your art on Facebook if you get your “Panties in a Knot” if someone crops it or changes it or uses it in any way.
Those are the rules. You signed them when you signed up to Facebook, and the same is true on all Social Media. NO Social Media is on your side on this issue.
He even used the opportunity to compare intellectual property with his green energy passion:
…it is kinda like arguing over Oil Jobs and how many people would be put out of work by Alternative Energy. It would actually increase the work, but less profit for the Elite.
Artists make art to be seen. They have a tie to it as they made it, and that I understand. Yet it is either kept in a closet or seen. You cannot help what people do with art. Best it be seen, rather than not, and as I said, if you are so insecure about it… keep it in your closet.
That’s Art in the Social Media World according to James Stewart. Social Media’s got his back, and if you’re an artist who likes posting work on the Internet, James will be there ready to carve it up and do with it what ever he wants to. You may recall the last time I asked someone to remove altered editorial cartoons. He took his time, but I think in the end he learned his lesson. Thing is, we never got to know the actual name behind the Twitter account.
But we know who James (not the actor) Stewart is! According to his Linkedin page he’s into Marketing and Advertising, and used to be a newspaper guy working at the two big dailies in Saskatchewan, the page goes into great blah blah blah about how things didn’t go right. He now sells vehicles online (yeah, I know, not so green) using his vast knowledge of advertising. His summary reads, “Now to retire comfortably, but always open to advice, new ideas, and possibilities.” It seems his new ideas today involve managing a host of Facebook pages. In his own words they included “Free Energy, RBE, Occupy, Liberty, Canadian Truth and more.” Canadian Truth News Eh, is the page I came across my altered cartoon. I’ve been since blocked from viewing the page, but it’s filled with an abundance of left leaning, environmental content, plus a lot of usual anti Harper stuff that there’s no shortage of on social media.
If you’ve got nothing better to do with your time, why not visit James Stewart on his many Facebook Pages. Surely you’ll find quite a range of Canadian offerings he’s decided look better reworded his way instead of what editorial cartoonists originally had in place. Editorial Cartoonists can report their defaced artwork, such as the examples shown below, to Facebook admin. And don’t forget to thank James (Teflon Jim) Stewart, not the famous one but the man with a hat, who calls himself, in his own words “someone who does stuff unselfishly for humanity…”
Updates (September 24, 2015, 12 hours after complaint made) on James Stewart’s refusal to remove intellectual property. This email letter to me from Facebook admin:
Thanks for bringing this matter to our attention. We removed or disabled access to the content you reported for violating the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We understand this action to resolve your intellectual property issue.
This is a no-reply email. If you’d like to report something else, or if you don’t believe this action resolved your issue, please fill out this form:
If you have any additional questions, please visit the Intellectual Property section of our Help Center:
The Facebook Team
(October 1, 2015) James Stewart might want to think again about returning to his habit of reposting altered intellectual property. Artists are going beyond the sort of shame tactics one sees above that is the precursor to having their work forcefully removed by social media admin. Stubborn, bullheaded behaviour like that exercised by James Stewart is being dealt with in the legal courts. While having images quietly removed from Facebook users pages might not school copyright pirates, I’m pretty sure if people are having to reach into their bank accounts to cover damages a lesson will learned the costly way.
No Jimmy Stewart, you can’t modify #cartoons & repost them on Facebook. That’s called #plagiarism and it violates…
Posted by Graeme MacKay – editorial cartoonist on Wednesday, September 23, 2015