[UPDATED December 30, 2009] Allyna and I have talked about this and had a few laughs. First and foremost, Allyna and I are friends and love each other. We have mutually agreed to leave this post online and intact for a couple of reasons. First of all, we agree that friends and colleagues should allow themselves to disagree from time to time, and neither of us has issues about being open about disagreeing. Secondly, because I know she’s not a thief. And even if she was, I’d still love her. She’s my friend! L’chaim!
Last night I ran into some friends who commented that my recent post about Mikki Prost’s wonderful performance was reproduced in its entirety, along with one of my photographs, in the latest issue of the PV Mirror, a local weekly newspaper, without my consent (Vol.1 Issue 12). Was I flattered? Absolutely not! My handy dictionary, which I always keep open on my computer while I’m writing in English (this being NOT my native language) defines the word thief as a person who steals another person’s property, especially by stealth and without using force or violence. Mind you, these are pretty harsh words when one considers that we’re talking about a respectable managing editor of a respectable local publication, right? Well, let’s take a close look at the finer details…
1. Creative Commons: Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally
If you pay a visit to Creative Commons, you will find this non-profit organization’s goals clearly outlined:
Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright
Providing free licenses and easy-to-follow instructions, Creative Commons allows you to embed logos in your own website that clearly indicate just how much of your own creative work you wish to share with others, and how. In my case, from the moment I set out to produce this blog, I embraced this notion from the get-go assuming that respectable people like Vineberg would, indeed, respect my personal choices as they relate to my property. And what are these choices? Simply scroll down to the bottom of any page on this blog and you will find, on the bottom right-hand corner, a Creative Commons License, clearly stating that my humble words and pretty pictures may not be used for commercial purposes.
Now, if I’ve missed something that would lead me to believe that the PV Mirror is a non-commercial venture, by all means, feel free to point it out to me. I’ll truly appreciate it. Had Vineberg had the courtesy to contact me and ask if she could print my article, I might have considered it. But guess what: she didn’t. Obviously, she didn’t look at my Creative Commons License, either. And yes, she did credit the source on the article, but again, I was not consulted on this, and I certainly didn’t ask to be listed as a contributor in the publication.
2. Credit Where Credit is Due
Page 19 of said issue of the PV Mirror features an article about Galleria Dante. Because I happen to know who took the featured photograph of owners Joe and Claire, and because this photographer happens to be a dear friend and a fine collaborator, I dare ask: why was he not credited on that page, or on page 5, where all contributors are listed (and who knew I was a PV Mirror “contributor,” I certainly did not…)? Some folks I know contribute for the PV Mirror in exchange for an advertisement placement, but I couldn’t find an ad for this photographer anywhere in the publication… Maybe he chose not to have an ad and actually got paid for the use of the photograph. Who knows.
3. Flattery or Forgery?
Take a look at this event notice, published by VirtualVallarta.com on its Events Calendar, on November 18. Now take a look at a similar notice, featured almost a month later in Vol. 1 Issue 11 pg. 21 of the PV Mirror. The image below shows a word-by-word comparison of both entries, revealing that most of the text was thieved obtained from VirtualVallarta.com. Was VirtualVallarta.com notified or credited? As it turns out, this publication’s managing editor was not notified. Don’t ask me how I know!
Still with me? If so, let’s go back to my original question: Is Allyna Vineberg, the respectable managing editor of the respectable PV Mirror newspaper, a thief? You tell me, for I’m at a loss here. Feel free to cast your opinion at the bottom of this article by participating in a cheerful, anonymous poll, or feel free to comment on this entry. But regardless of your opinion, please know that Mikki Prost is not the only person in town working hard for her money. There are a number of hard-working writers and photographers out there, myself included, whose creative output has some worth, at least to some of us, and it’s sad to see this type of unsolicited familiarity regarding intellectual property taking place, even among friends. And when it comes to this type of situation, it is unfortunate that familiarity does breed contempt.
Vineberg has been in the publishing business in Puerto Vallarta much longer than I’ve even lived here, so I’m quite certain she is not acting maliciously. However, being a seasoned publisher, she should know better. Isn’t it time all of us involved in the business of creating, sharing and distributing news in this town took a fresh look at our procedures?
And of course, despite my own Creative Commons License, the PV Mirror is more than welcome to feature this article in one of its upcoming issues!