Monday, March 14, 2016

Tellin' it like it is

When I was a kid, I was sometimes reprimanded by my elders because I was not the most subtle or thoughtful.  If somebody asked me something, I occasionally responded without the right "polite" filter.  So, sometimes I maybe said mean things inadvertently, without thinking, or I was way too honest when asked my opinion.
No, Auntie So and So, you don't look good in that color.  I don't like your new dress..."  
You get the picture?  Those comments did not go down so well.

  However, there's something to be said for telling it like it is.  My mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was very good at this, and now I get it...often people encourage girls to be nice, act nicely and be polite...don't make waves.  Yet?  There's some serious feminist power in speaking my piece.

Even so, I am sometimes too kind due to this childhood "girly" training.  I try to excuse people by saying  things like "I'm not entirely sure what they were doing" (when I knew, in this case they were definitely pirating ebooks) and making excuses like "I was really sleep deprived.  Maybe I missed something."  The truth is, heck no, I did not miss anything.  As individuals, we often see people doing wrong.  If I were not so tired that day, maybe I would have called out those people who were stealing digital content, but in truth, I wasn't up to doing it.  I should have.  I should have even been more direct about it in this essay I wrote.  Oh well.

What am I talking about?  I just had a piece published on the CBC about intellectual property piracy:
Time to assess the true cost of digital piracy

Some of the comments posted in response may have their points.  However, some are downright mean and petty.  The professor pointed out to me that I should read all the comments through this lens:  Why are they commenting?  Do they feel defensive because they are guilty of stealing someone's intellectual property/content without paying for it?

If so, we can chalk it up to this: some people say inadvisable or unkind things when they feel guilty and defensive. Oops. :)

Even further...why do these trolls comment on articles all the time in this way?  Why not write your own opinion piece?  Why not speak out about your point of view instead?!  Are you willing to put your writing out there for publication and be open to the critique?

I mentioned this new article on a forum for knitwear designers, and got a lot of kind support, but the best one was someone who posted a link to this comic.  The comic is about EXPOSURE.  How creative people aren't doing their work for the money, but instead, for exposure.  (Warning, there is one well-placed bad word in this comic.)

This comic gave me a laugh, and it reminded me too of how far I've come in my work life.  When I first started writing for publication, I was very sensitive about every comment, criticism and critique.  It all hurt.  Now, I know that nothing I ever write is perfect, but that it's ok to write what I know...and sometimes it gets accepted for publication...anyway.

When I see the article go live, part of me is proud it was published for its own sake.  Another part of me is going: Grocery money!  Preschool fees!  Maybe we can afford take-out now and again!   

Cause the Canadian dollar is low these days, and groceries cost more and more.  It's a fine thing to be able to put my education and experience to work, and earn money for that work.  Some folks might not agree with me.  Oh well.  I can live with that, particularly if I still get to earn money for my writing, and it pays some of the bills.  It's a feminist thing: getting paid fairly for my work.

That's saying it like it is.

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Blogger Nina Ruit said...

Ah, being a librarian I see this every day, in many ways! Intellectual property is a very misunderstood concept. And it kills me that most authors cannot make a living wage through authorship. I know publishers have lots of overhead and risk, but they are part of the problem as well.

Over the course of my professional life, I have seen so much change in the amount of time and energy that students are willing to put into research. Not many seem to be willing to actually do more than 'google' things, without giving any thought to resources that have been carefully researched by someone in that field. And, yes, more than likely has written a book on it! (Your husband must deal with this as well, being in the university system).

I read through all the comments after your article, and it just reinforces the idea I have that most people who log into news sites without owning up to their true identities are just there to be mean, no matter what the topic.

March 15, 2016 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Hugh Stephens said...

Joanne, like Nina I was distressed to see the ignorant and hateful comments posted after your oped on the CBC site. It seems that the anonymity of the web brings out the bottom-feeders. I have a copyright blog ( and I would like to feature your comments and experience in a future blog. I can of course draw on the CBC piece but I am wondering if you have any additional insights or anecdotes to add. As a courtesy I would run the draft blog by you for comments prior to posting. You can reach me at Best regards,

Hugh Stephens

March 15, 2016 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Hi Nina, yes, this copyright issue has changed students' research considerably in the internet age. You summarized it perfectly. I too have been guilty of just googling--mostly recipes or quotes, things I could just as easily have looked up in a's amazing how things have morphed. My husband teaches courses that require a lot of actual problem solving, so he doesn't have a lot of students who can get away with googling. He finds that his very occasional instances of cheating via the internet often indicate the student can't pass anyhow--because he/she has not learned to solve the problems or comprehend the materials for the exams. However, he has pointed out to me that when he gets papers published, he has to pay page charges for them! It is necessary for him to publish as a professor, but these days he has to help subsidize those same science journals' expenses. Very depressing outcome of the publishing changes...

(And yes, anonymity seems to allow the ignorant and mean folk out to play, that's for sure!)

Hugh, in case you signed up to get responses from these comments.. I will also drop you a line via email. Thanks for your kind words about the nasty comments. It seems like it is part of the job description these days, although the CBC editors have been very supportive on this front in terms of other things I've written.

March 15, 2016 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Friends of the Boar said...

Joanne, I understood and sympathised with every word in your cbc piece. I then noticed the comments without the need to read Hugh's blog. I have had many such comments about myself and my work from the nasty and ignorant freetard community, many of whom are Wikipedia contributors or, with even more hatred for copyright holders, Techdirt.

I am thre monkey selfie photographer, a famous couple of images that went viral and then stolen by Techdirt and Wikipedia in their zeal to destroy IP and make a lot of noise about it in the process.

I have made almost nothing from my work thanks to piracy but also because the freetard community will actively coerce others into doing the same.

My work was illegally put onto Creative Commons against my wishes, with the result that I have lost out on maybe 100,000 licenses. The few hundred licenses I have sold have only been funnelled back into copyright registrations and attorneys! Like you, I a make nothing from my art, and maybe its time we all gave up producing and being creative so we can see how talented these moronic freetards are. I guess they haven't a single cell of creativity, hence their need to steal from others to promote their blogs.

Ignore them. They won't go away because its fun for them to taunt creative folk. We are a threat to them. We have free thoughts and work with our right brains. Together they promote a nefarious brand of Communitarianism - whereby the rights of the individual is less important than the community - another form of communism that works only for the 1% elite. They are left brained one-dimensional thinkers who have been trained by the system to repeat on demand what their masters have told them.

This is also the agenda at the Ministry of Truth, aka The Wikimedia Foundation. They wish to be the only source people use for information - that they create! Only a left-brain freetard would use Wikipedia for information!

The Communitarians wish for artwork to be free so that their sponsers and donors can profit from it. Their sponsers use the saved money to pay Wikimedia / Wikipedia to write nice things about them - to the extent that history is being rewritten and used against us all.

So you see, copyright is a big agenda. Keep fighting to save Intellectual Property.

May 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM  

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