Theft is the sincerest form of flattery

My friend Whitney Avalon, who has carved herself a nice little niche as an actress, is not happy.  And I can understand why.

See, Whitney has produced the first in a series of “Princess Rap” battles, in which she and her friends recreate a rap war between various Disney princesses.  So if you want to see Snow White taken on Elsa, watch this clip.  Note: The clip does have a slight bit of profanity near the end of the video, so you might not want to watch this at work.

As of now, this video clip has garnered six million visits on YouTube, and it’s essentially gone viral. Yes, I know it’s an homage to the Epic Rap Battles of History video clip series, and yes it’s an homage to all the Disney princesses… but still, it’s kind of fun to watch.

But apparently some people like it so much… that, in fact, they’ve cut and pasted the video to their own portals and are getting plenty of views (and clickthroughs) (and monetization) of their own.

Not cool.

Example – check out this clip on a Korean Facebook page. Same video – but now with Korean subtitles.

And you’re thinking… what’s wrong here?

Here’s what’s wrong. We live in a culture where people think it’s okay to cut-and-paste out of websites and take whatever’s there for free … you know, a generation that grew up on Napster and Limewire and BitTorrent. And if someone comes back and says, “Hey, you took my stuff off my website, not cool,” the response is either, “Well, I’m giving you exposure, you should be happy,” or “That’s not how things work around here,” or “I think it’s fair use, therefore, I’m exempt.”

Listen, I’ve had it happen to me. Turner Sports once poached one of my pictures of Jamario Moon from the Albany Patroons when Moon was in the NBA and participating in the All-Star Game Slam Dunk contest. I contacted Turner Sports, reminded them that I didn’t appreciate that they used my photo AND blurred out my copyright watermark. They argued fair use. I argued that they blurred the copyright mark, therefore they knew how to get in touch with me and refused to do so. A few days later, a check for $200 arrived in my mailbox.

And really, what Whitney’s doing is protecting her work. And if she wants to film a bunch of her friends as they cosplay in Disney outfits and do their best Salt-n-Pepa meets the Sequence rap battle… that’s their choice. Just understand that if they do this, and if you want to show off what they’ve done… then respect what they’re doing. Don’t cut-and-paste the video and claim it as your own.

Be real. Don’t steal.