Monday, June 18, 2012

Stealing is the least they're doing...

I can't describe how angry this is making me... but I'll try.

You'll have to forgive me.  This subject is really pushing my buttons right now.... and not the good buttons.

I'm not naive... I know how the internet works.  You see something you like, then you can simply save it, publish it on your own site or blog, and claim it's yours.  Doing so against corporations is risky, but doing it against individuals is pretty easy.  I can't count how many times I've seen my caps posted on other sites and blogs.  At first it really upset me, and even got me to start adding a watermark.

Now this upset me on many levels.  First... Damn it I worked hard to make these caps.  I don't seek money for them, but I would at least like to be acknowledged as the creator.  Don't just hand pick the caps you like and post them to your blog as if they were your creations.  Second you're denying people the ability to see more of these caps.  Oh sure, you hand pick from dozens of artists and post them all, but what if your viewers would like to dive a little deeper and see more from a particular artist?  All it takes is acknowledging that you didn't create them, and pointing your viewers where you found it.

When you do that... adding something as simple as a link back to the blog of the artist you change everything.  It goes from theft to an honor.  You'll still keep your viewers, but you acknowledged that there is more to see than what you think is worth while.

But to be honest, fighting against this is like trying to push back the tide.  It's not just my caps, but most cappers that have a blog.  I see dozens of cappers caps around, and while I occasionally see someone point their viewers back to the original artist's blog, it is the exception not the rule.

So I let it wash over me.  I don't fight against it, I don't reprimand those who do it, and I try to let it go.

But it seems that there are others who take it further.  Who don't just take a cap they like, and post it up as if it were theirs, but who alter it.  They change it in an ugly and obvious way and then post it.

Now not only is the cap outside of the artist's hands, but it no longer even represents what the artist intended.

Imagine this.   Here is a cap form Mistress Simone:

This is a lovely cap.  You can see Mistress Simone's artistic effort.  Not just in selecting an image that convey's much of the story's dynamic, but also in laying everything out.  Everything in this cap is part of the story.

Beautiful no?

But what if I liked most of it.  Say I liked the fist paragraph, but wanted something different for the ending.  Something like taking out any part of helping Simone with her lovers since I don't like the idea of serving men.   And you know, forget the idea of Sara truly serving her wife by having sex with her former colleagues.

Well if that was the case, I would find a similar image and make a cap of my own.  I get inspired by a lot of people's caps and rework some of them into caps of my own.  Will mine look as good as Mistress Simone's?  No, probably not.  But at least I would have the integrity of having my own caption.  I wouldn't hurt Mistress Simone's work, nor would I hurt the person it was made for.

But look what I found:


Take away the fact that I like Simon's story better.. after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  This story may be perfect for someone else.  And if someone did this and saved it to their hard drive to read and enjoy later, well more power to them.

But they really crossed a line when they published it to their own blog.

This is about the closest thing I can think of to physically finding Simone and slapping her across the face.  And just to be clear, this isn't a theoretical case... this altered cap is posted on someone else's blog.  I'm not going to link to it as I don't want this person to get a single page view.

This is just wrong in just about every way I can picture it being wrong.  The story takes a viciously different turn than what Simone wrote.  Black all caps text over a white background as opposed to yellow shadowed text over a yellow background makes it look like someone painted graphite over a piece of art.   And think about how they did that for a moment... they obviously know enough about a graphics program to make their text box fit over the text box that Simone created.  To blot out what Simone wrote, and change it up to what they wanted to see.

So what exactly is stopping this person from creating their own cap?  They have inspiration and skill.  So they either loved Simone's cap enough to keep the way it looks (but didn't love Simone enough to consider how she feels), or were just too lazy to try and create something original.

Now again, I'm not a cold callous bitch.  If you want to do this and keep it for your own enjoyment, then that's fine.  But don't put it out there for others to see.  I mean for Christ's sake it has Simone's watermark on it!!!  If I didn't know Simone I might assume that she made this cap.  I for one find the crude attempt at changing the cap to be obvious.... but I make caps.  I recognize when styles don't match up.  Even if I didn't know and respect Simone I would see that someone put they're crayons on someone else's art.  But not everyone will do that.  Not everyone will recognize that.  I imagine there are people out there thinking that Simone DID create this.  And again.. that's just a slap to Simone's face.

And is this the only slap they're dealing?  No.  Their blog is chuck full of stolen and altered caps.  Several of Simone's are up, as well as dozens of other cap artists.  Artists who spend hours making caps for no other reason than to express their feelings and share their visions with the world.

Now as I understand it, the person who is running this blog was in a relationship.  Their 'male lesbian wife' who collected and altered these caps passed away in May.  If that's true then I am truly sad for this person.  But it still isn't an excuse to post these stolen and altered images.  Keep them... look at them often and remind yourself of your wife... but don't post them.

Simone contacted this person.  I think she made an entirely reasonable request.  Remove the altered caps.  Leave up the unaltered caps if they want, but give credit to Simone.  If they would do that Simone offered to make a custom cap for them.

Let me tell you, my respect for Simone grew a lot when she told me that.  If I found my caps on this blog, I wouldn't ask politely and offer a reward for them doing the right thing.  I wished Simone the best though and hoped that it could end amicably.  I still don't think it would have finished the issue as they still had dozens if not hundreds of other altered caps from other artists... but hey I don't have a dog in this fight.

Their response?  They don't know how to remove them.


That's the best lie you can come up with?  You've been running a blog longer than I've had mine up, you've made over 50 posts with hundreds of images most of the re-sized.... and you don't know how to go into the post, click on the image and click on 'Remove'?

They DID go in and add in 'courtesy of' (even though the altered images ARE NOT courtesy of Mistress Simone) so we can clearly see that they can edit a post.  But evidently clicking on an image and clicking on 'Remove' is beyond them.

And I'll be honest... I don't believe that their wife did all of this.  Several of the altered caps were from posts made around the time that the blog stated that she passed away.  I'm not doubting that there was a wife, and that this person loved them deeply.  But between saying that they don't know where the images came from, saying that they don't know how to remove them, and making MORE posts before acknowledging Simone's simple and kind hearted request tells me that there is a level of dishonesty here.

At best, they don't respect Simone or other artists. At worst they are willfully and knowingly doing this and have no intention to stop or make it right.

This is the type of attitude and action that makes me want to close up shop and just stop posting my caps publicly.


  1. I appreciate the support over this, hon. It's a very odd situation and I'm trying to be diplomatic about it so I won't go into too much on it, but you touched on a lot of how I feel right about now, including the closing down shop part.

  2. If you want this resolved in a non-amicable way I know people... ;-)

  3. I've had a cap or two of mine posted else where, never really edited like these are though. I've seen people do it before, even at the haven. Someone would save a cap and write over it, but leave part of the original cap. (instead of just cutting out the image or asking where to find it. )

    The closet I've come having my work edited and posted else where, went over very well. The person posted the second half to a caption I had made, but didn't post the first part and made no mention as to who wrote it. It was just left to the reader to assume that this person posting it, also made it.

    I asked to take them down or tell people where to find more and who made it. They put up a link to me and everything was settled. I believe I offered to make them something, but I never heard back.

    I have tried to put a water mark on my work, but in comic life it's a little difficult to work it in every cap. I also feel like, with out the ability to make it fade in, it affects the look of my stuff.

    Plus, some times I just need all the room I can get...

    But, even though I mostly over look it for my own work, I'm still disgusted at the thought. I had a bit of an argument with someone who did it to a few friends. It was one of the annoying cases where the person stealing them, still was claiming them as their own even AFTER the author gets in touch.

    This thing with simone has to be the worst example though, clearly a lot of work went into the original image. And then someone taped a piece of cardboard to it and wrote in a big magic marker.. it's a huge eyesore!

  4. I agree 100% with every thing said here. That said, I am also a little disappointed more people DON'T steal from me. Are my caps not good enough to steal? sniff

  5. As of last night, the issue has been resolved. I shall leave it at that.

    Smitty, I'm sure there are blogs with your caps somewhere. However, trying to alter a 19 panel caption would more than likely drive someone a little batty :)

    In all seriousness, I doubt anyone would want to change your captions - they are entirely too distinctive and many already enjoy the tropes you are known for.

    1. I'm glad that you are happy with the resolution Simone. I'll be honest, I still find what they're doing repugnant. You're caps aren't being misrepresented now and that's good, but there are still dozens of people's caps up there that are. I can't imagine they are all happy about it, or even know it.

  6. I guess one of the things that I THOUGHT would stop the stealing/changing of captions would be the intricate nature of background variants and overall design. Never would I have thought that someone would put a white text box over a well composed caption and just take all the aesthetically pleasing bits of it and flush them down the toilet.

    You are right though, I would be friggin' LIVID if I was in Simone's sexy boots. You would think that anyone with half a brain though would realize that the original had been tampered with .. the composition doesn't match, or fonts, or ideas at all.

    The thing is, if they wanted to privately do that, good for them. Hell, when I was younger, I took some stories from Fictionmania that I loved and "find/replaced" the characters with my name, and even wrote endings to those I didn't like or for stories that weren't finished. Perhaps doing that made me a better writer when I started doing captions! I would never POST those though, just save them for my own enjoyment.

    1. I agree with you Dee. I figured design like Simone used made her more or less immune from having her caps altered. But evidently some people have no care in the world for design. That alone makes me shake my head in disbelief.

      And I've done the same thing with stories on fictionmania. I have several 'Caitlyn' stories that exist only on my hard drive. I've even edited them to fit my preferences... but I would never post them. They're for my enjoyment.

  7. I've got to say as someone who only reads caps that I always go to the real author, and it's usually easy to tell. A lot of people appreciate the way you guys put things together and they follow your sites regardless of if its posted elsewhere. If nothing else, I find authors' personalities come out in their caps and the mood I get from reading several from one site is much better than finding it chopped and changed.

    1. I appreciate you saying that Anonymous. I'd like to think that all readers are like that. But I'm sure there are plenty out there that appreciate the caps and artists, but don't associate one directly with the other. There are plenty of sites where the caps are just aggregated and leave no indication as to WHO made the caps.

  8. Caitlyn SMASH! Seriously, I don't know what else to say that hasn't been said before. It's awful when work is stolen, and terrible when it's modified, especially in such a blatant and ugly manner.

  9. The following is a reply from Geofry who was having a problem posting it earlier today:

    This is highly disturbing and im glad the issue is now resolved. Personaly I would have prefered if you could reach into your monitor, drag him out, and smack his cheating face. Then make him clean your house for the effort and send him walking home. THAT may be apropriate. But then again I think you are nicer then I am.

    This reminds me of an incident about four years ago. At that time I did not have my own blog yet and mostly only posted at The Wizards Lair as a Henchman. About three days after I put some x-men posts up I discovered one of my photomanipulations on a yahoo site. Someone had taken the image and put a black bar through most of my 'signature' and posted it as theirs. I was livid and tracked it down to a (at the time) seventeen year old kid. I chalenged him to take it down first by writing him directly and then on the sites message board but nothing was ever done. Ultimately I canceled my membership to the site and started using my current water mark instead of the old signature.

  10. It is pretty awful to do such a thing. If you like a caption, save it. If you don't like how it is, you COULD modify it and save it for your own personal enjoyment.

    But taking it, and posting it as yours is terrible, and taking such a well laid out and aesthetically pleasing cap and butchering it is so much worse.

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