Tuesday, July 15, 2014


(Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

I start this blog post with a little trepidation. It seems all too common today to accuse people of being thieves, stealing with abandon things that are intangible, such as music, movies, patterns, photos, and data. The person is dismissed with a word, and their word is never to be trusted again. In some cases, I've seen designers so vilified by an accidental similarity that they disappear from social media, Ravelry, and other sites, never to be seen from again. In the genealogy world, angry folks spread the word about a supposed thief without any supplemental information (excepting Gustave Anjou and the Horn papers, proven frauds/forgeries), and the person is written off.

I guess this is what prompted me to ask the question - what exactly makes a person decide to take something? What makes them interested in pirating sites? Why do they do what they do, whether it be grabbing a photo without attribution, or reading a free copy of a book?

So back to that trepidation - in order to understand the people in front of me, I had to join the masses. Yes, I had to masquerade as a pirate. No eye patches, but a digital identity that could not be traced back to me somehow. Which brought up a problem - how does one exactly become a pirate without actually being a pirate?

The answer is twofold: one, share my own work, and two, share things that are out of copyright, out of license, so far out that there was no question. So for example, sharing leaflets from the late 1800s. Sharing from companies that went out of business more than 70 years ago and didn't sell their copyrights and licenses. This actually entailed a lot of work, to make sure that what I was sharing did not violate these tenets. And to share the bare minimum in order to engage the audience at the appropriate level about topics so that I could get to know them.

As I go through this series, I will share my observations from actually trying to be a thief/pirate, and what I learned about the people who are actively sharing materials without observation to copyright, trademark, or license. 

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