Freebies and Sharing Digi Stamps

This page covers a few questions that periodically surface on many paper craft forums.

What are freebies and why do some Digital Stamp Designers offer them on their site for download?
Is it ok to share and pass around Freebies since they are free?
Why isn’t it ok to share with others because we are promoting the designers when we do this?

What are freebies and why do some Digital Stamp Designers offer them
Many Digital Stamp Designers as well as other webmasters offer freebies of some sort or another. It can just be a nice gesture but more often than not it is used a marketing ploy and to bring traffic to the designers website. It also allows would be buyers to have a real look at the quality of work and try it before making a bigger purchase. Some Designers offer designs for a short period of time and them remove them and offer different ones, constantly circulating some of their designs. The ones offered previously may be removed permanently or go on sale singly or as part of a package on the designers online shop. The designs offered for free usually take no less amount of time to create than any of the other designs the designer sells.

Is it ok to share and pass around Freebies
When someone downloads a designers freebies and then passes them around to others, this not only abuses the generosity of the designer but infringes on their copyrights. Many people confuse the words free or freebies as meaning they can do what ever they want with the downloaded designs. This is a huge misconception and one that can get the person redistributing the designers designs into really hot water for copyright infringement. Almost all designers put the same copyrights / terms of use on their freebies as they do on the designs they sell which usually includes the phrase “Not for redistribution” The word redistribution means passing it on to others.

My own terms are very explicit and do not differentiate between anything I offer for free or the designs I sell. My terms include the following: The license you purchase, (or to my freebies) does not include the right to redistribute, sub-license, rent, lease, resell, lend, barter, swap, give away or share any of my designs and this includes printed or photocopied sheets of my original designs.

At one time I wrote the copyright terms for many online artist so you will find similar wording in the terms of many online artist and designers and the new designers seem to be following suite and are adopting these same sentiments.

We are promoting the designers
Often people that share a designers free designs use the excuse that they are just promoting the designer and do not understand that it is not their right to decide this. Free does not mean free to do with what you wish, it only means the designer is not charging you for using those designs. The designer has not given you the right to pass around their work. Copyright is complicated and a lot of people just do not understand what the phrase all rights reserved really means. When an artist creates something it is automatically copyrighted even without registering with the copyright office. The artist or designer owns all rights to the work, which includes the right to alter, make derivative works from it, distribute it or sell it. When you download a design from an designer the only rights the artist or designer has given you is the right to use it in the manner they have specified in their terms of use or angel policy. Those uses and no others and it is not your right to decide otherwise. When someone redistributes a designers designs free or not, they are taking something away from that designers that they do not have a right to. No only may the designer loose traffic because of this abuse, but also potential sales. People assume that when they give the designs to others that it later generates sales for the designers, this is also a wrong assumption because no one can predict or ensure this.  When someone shares a design with someone else, they assume it does not hurt anything and believe they are only sharing with one or a few people so it cant possibly cause any harm. No one has control the actions of another human being and the person you gave the designs to may also think “What is the harm” and give it to a few of their friends, and on and on it goes, it really shouldn’t take Einstein to figure out that pretty soon the designer has a huge problem and any sales the designer may have made from the design in the future has gone out the window, because it has spread like wild fire all over the web. If you truly admire the work of a certain designer, be kinder to them let others know when they offer freebies, and instead of sharing the designs point them in the direction of the designers sites.

The result of sharing / redistributing what does not belong to you:
It is really sad what unthinking, or just dishonest people can do to hurt an artist or designer and I have seen more than my share of talented artist pull all their work from the web, close their sites forever, never to return. Some of these were my friends and I miss them, but having gone through it myself many times I know why they did it . It can be heart wrenching to find your work abused repeatedly. At one time I had one of the biggest genealogy sites on the web and offered free genealogy images for other webmasters to build their websites. At that time my terms were simple, link back to my site, do not alter my or redistribute my work. Even with these simple rules there were those that gave away my images in collection sties saying they were promoting my site by doing it. After the repeated abuses of my work, I removed all my free images from my site and although you can still find some of my work all over the web on legitimate genealogy sites, the genealogy community as a whole, is now the poorer because of the abuse caused by unthinking, uncaring and downright dishonest people. I gave the web a gift and in the end I was hurt by it. It is because of this abuse that I will never again offer these types of designs for free. This is the result of sharing, what does not belong to those sharing it. Instead of asking “What does it hurt” the question people should be asking is how can we stop this type of abuse of the artists whose work we admire and love. The artists and designers that are offering you freebies are giving you a gift, thank them not by abusing their generosity, but by respecting them and the terms they put on their work.

Final Note:
No one should presume they have the right to decided what is promoting or good for the artist and their work except the artist themselves.