An Open Letter About CatStuff's Graphics
On June 30, I received the following private message in CatStuff's guestbook:

"Dear Glenda, I have always liked your page. I do not like the stern manner you take. YOU MAY NOT use this..YOU MUST do that... are you really going to sue me for useing a gif in a manner outside of some petty restrictions? Its a gif for gods sake! You seem to take yourself very seriously. Valerie M[name removed for privacy] p.s. I am an artist and create my own gifs and animations..I am afraid to be inspired by yours because of the above.."

I wrote the reply below, then discovered that the person had not put in a valid email address. I have decided to post the "dialogue" in an open format, for those of you who may be feeling the same way that Valerie has expressed:

I'm sorry you are offended by the manner in which I have specified the usage of CatStuff graphics.

I have tried being nice, warm, and fuzzy in the last year and a half - initially writing long paragraphs explaining why people shouldn't direct-link, allowing web collection sites and postcard sites and everybody else in the world to use or edit my graphics, and so on.

To be honest, darned few people ever paid any attention. They don't want to read - they're here to look at the pretty pictures.

So, I have listed four things that they cannot do, as clarification of the "one rule," and have done so as briefly and succinctly - and yes, probably quite sternly - as possible.

Try this, Valerie: put your own gifs and animations on a web site that you pay a monthly fee for (and be sure to pay for extra storage space as well). Pay hundreds of dollars for various software programs so you can make your gifs "perfect." Then advertise your site to make sure people come visit, and tell them all the files are available for use with no restrictions at all.

Then watch as the various graphics collections sites on the Web suck them up - and watch as you see what you've worked so hard on show up on pages all around the Web, credited to somebody else. Don't be distressed that the only thing those folks did to get the credit was to take your graphics, while you're the one who did the work on them.

Be flattered when you discover that someone has thought so much of your drawing that they have put a texture over it that has made it fuzzy; has copyrighted it, unchanged, to themselves; or distorted it so badly in a Web Ring graphic that it is painful for you to see, knowing that they have credited you as the artist.

Be cheered that someone turned your work into a background or Geocities buttons - and are distributing it as their own work.

Don't be upset when, 2 years down the road, some of your graphics have become so popular that people won't even believe you are the one who drew them when you say so - they've been used everywhere, so obviously they must be public domain, and nobody ever drew them in the first place.

Be glad that other people are making money because of you - your graphics enhance their commercial site so they can sell their products, while others have been able to increase their income by using your designs on business cards or letterheads that they're selling. Don't be upset that they didn't ask or even say thank you. It's just a GIF, after all, and you didn't put any work into it, right?

And, when you start getting lots of hits on your site because it's popular, don't tell anyone that they "MUST" download the files and put them on their own site - after all, you don't run a risk of having your ISP tell you that you're getting more hits than any other account and now have to pay $400/month instead of $40 (yes, this has happened to web artists).

Valerie, my wording may not be perfect - I actually do change it from time to time - and as a result of your message, I have lower-cased the DO NOT's. But I will not change the wording.


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