Saturday, February 25, 2012

Intellectual Property, Pinterest, YouTube + The Wild Wild West

Welcome to my very long ramble. Welcome to my world.
Sit down and get comfortable.... I have a lot on my mind.

Turns out I have created "Intellectual Property." Who knew?
(Now quit your guffawing family and dear friends, its true!)

But first!!! Let's start with my big tech-news!!!! I have a button with grab code!
Long story short: I would LUV LUV LUV for you to pin it. Pin it. PIN IT!!!!!

Longer short overview pertaining to my Intellectual Property
I have written and recorded over 100 original songs for children onto nine albums. I have created three picture books to the lyrics of my songs and I also have filmed a DVD. Turns out they call that 'intellectual property' even if its meant for kiddos. You can find any and all of that over at my dot com site. This is not a commercial, I just think ya gotta know how I have come to form my opinions and experience.

Most of my intellectual property is purchased by educators, often by educators in childcare -- quite possibly the most significant job on earth to receive the proportionally least significant remuneration, worse even than teachers, but that's the subject of a whole different article for sure.

There you have it. I have 'stuff'  for sale, hence forth to be referred to as my IP. One more tidbit: I've been at this company of mine for 14.75 years now, as an independent-creative, word-of-mouth sort of artisan-for-hire BELOVED by those who encounter me, yet unheard of by the VAST majority of educators -- even within my own industry. I have little pockets of rabid fans. Totally unheard of in vast stretches of the 'educational' landscape. Reaching out via blogging across the cyber-space, thru pixie dust and fairy blog mothers and a scavenger hunt of pins, is full of potential for a no-name  an independent type such as myself. Hence my persistence from my cave and..... readers..... drumroll .....  I have a blog button with code!

OK. One more tidbit. It takes 'thousands' of dollars to produce an album the way I go about it. Actually tens of thousands of dollars for my most recent projects. Turns out that I have very little actual musical talent and hire-out all of my glorious arrangements to 'music-contractors.' Turns out that I also hire a brilliant engineer to direct, record, mix and master ALL of my little ditties in his state of the art recording studio. Also adding to the bottom line budget of outgoing expense are all of those incredible session-musicians. I pay for their talent and contribution on each and every one of those little songs of mine. It all adds up to a LOT of out-go.

Debbie Clement's favorite image from her first picture book, "You're Wonderful"

While I'm at it, just one more background tidbit. I am also the publisher of my books. Rejected by all of the publishing houses I submitted the first idea to for consideration, we took out a loan against our house so that I could make my dream come true. I now have picture books that I have created. Yes. From fabric. I design. I sew together. I've added the title of author + illustrator of picture books to my resume!! I won't even tell you how much $$ that took. Our bank has all of the details. Let's just say: a LOT. Let's also say, "it can be done." Let's also say, "Hallelujah!"

Truth of the matter? Each project has kinda-sorta paid for the one that follows after. Dan Green at Amerisound Studios has allowed me to pay my hourly recording fees by credit card, in little bitty chunks, one session at a time over decades of our working together: one song at a time. So all of this has gotten accomplished in baby steps financially because his heart is big and he knows what it takes to bring that dream of original music to fruition. 

Good news? Model of persistence? Inspiration for 'hang-in-there'? Poster child for you too can get your ideas out into the world? E!!!! All of the above!!! We paid off the bank loan against our house some time back .... and I have won national awards for my work, so this is all good great news! Forward progress. Baby steps.

Back to some of the IP issues at hand.

Times that I've noticed my Intellectual Property has NOT been respected: 

  • Teachers stand in front of my booth at a conference and say to their friend, "I'll buy this CD and burn you a copy, if you buy that one and burn a copy for me." (How could I make that up?) The first time a teacher asked me to-my-face if my CD would 'burn' I thought she was concerned about how flammable my packaging might be in a fire. #DUH. Ugggh.
  • A biggish-name musician went all about the state of Ohio singing one of my very first ditties, introducing it as their very own. Word for word. Note for note. My song. #You'veGottaBeKiddingMe. Uggggh. [Brought to my attention by a mutual friend. Since an assertive conversation, and the fact that the song resides on my first album -- I have since seen appropriate (slim, but real) royalties from its being re-recorded by same biggish name. I am given credit and all of us remain friends.]
  • A school district in a northern state makes a video they upload to YouTube showcasing EVERY aspect of their entire program, using one of my songs as the backdrop to highlight every one of their departments and does not in any way give me any credit for my song which is show-casing their amazing contributions to children. People, it was choreographed on MULTIPLE locations with numerous cameras and good lighting. They would have practiced to sing my song with such enthusiasm and skill.... yet no one thought to put in a music credit?  #CutItOut!! Ugggggh. Not so much ugggggh that they don't give me credit as, ugggggh if they'd just have thought to list me, the originator of the song, all of those who liked the music could track me down and use it as well. #Missed opportunity.
You would think educators and fellow musicians would be better than this. Right? Not! I think that sometimes people think that if I have all of that product on the table in shrink wrap -- I must very likely own my very own island in the tropics and therefore must be beyond 'needing' appropriate purchase income of said IP. I'm pretty sure they don't ever calculate the actual investment in inventory that it takes to make it all available, let alone the development dollars involved. My experience.

Stick with me here folks I'm just getting started. That's my experience.
Let's poke down a few more recent rabbit holes now popping up.

Discussions that I have recently heard regarding Intellectual Property:
  1. Company that creates digital 'clip-art' has been contacted by the folks representing Dr. Seuss. Their Seuss-similar clip-art has been purchased by oodles of educators to create Seuss-fun in classrooms -- much for purchase by other educators. Turns out to have been inappropriate in the minds of Seuss reps. Said clip-art is no longer available for purchase. My guess? Must have been a very strongly worded interaction. Seuss must have a legal team. {I noticed there is still 'Star Wars-esque' clip art for sale. Hmmmmmm.  Who knows how many other big name franchise-esque images of clip art circulate in teacher-land?} Creating 'lessons-for-sale' based on the IP of others, has all sorts of ramifications beyond my expertise, but I think as a general rule? Probably NOT a good idea. My guess is that they have more litigators than you do. In the last couple of weeks I have been reading all sorts of articles about copyright and trade-mark and fair use for educational purposes. Thinking in terms of my own IP. Slippery slopes. Gray issues. For the record. As an author/illustrator. I would NOT be a fan to see lessons based on my books being created by others, and then made available -- for sale -- to the global market of additional teachers for their purchase based on my IP. Nope. Not without my written consent folks. DON'T GO THERE! I'm the one who has cobbled my ideas together. That's my IP. I'm all about you creating awesome 'stuff/IP' to share with others. Just create your own! I realize I'm no Dr. Seuss. Some of you may have thought Seuss an icon and therefore fair-game. Public domain perhaps? Or maybe ya really didn't give it a whole lot of thought because you saw others 'doing' it. Selling Seuss-able lessons. Gee-whizz. Don't know, but my thought: don't go there folks. Not without proper licensing and invitation. That stuff belongs to someone else. So does Star Wars. Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary. Now on to other issues which may be even bigger...............
  2. Teacher is told by own school district that they may not use their own self-created materials (which are also available for sale to other teachers,) within their own personal classroom. Period. Seriously? Talk about slippery slopes! Could school districts and school boards forbid teachers from educational blogging? Where is free speech? Where is IP? Where is Americana can-do spirit? Where is Intellectual freedom. Is this the ultimate NIMBY? (Not in my back yard?) Goodness. Way, way beyond my efforts to even articulate the issues, big time issues, breaking right now in real time. What I know? There are tears being shed. There are issues of control. Lots of issues. This is real. Not an urban legend. Happening. Now let's get to Pinterest.
  3. Turns out Pinterest has 'terms of use' that have evolved and apparently we were supposed to be getting permission from the original source to pin images. [For the record: I now have just over 3500 Pinterest 'followers' and have repinned somewhere near 11K images. Yes. Eleven thousand images.] No doubt I have inappropriately passed along someone's artistic bread and butter in the process and I am remorseful. Agonizing even. Has this brought them greater visibility or just diminished their work? Who am I to know? I haven't asked. I hadn't really thought about it from an IP stand point. I was 'just' saving images I liked. What to do now moving forward? Pin from bloggers I know to wish pin-visibility for their work as a beginning. Sit on my hands when it comes to the repin button Making that commitment now. My name is Debbie. I have a pin-addiction. All along I thought it was too easy. Too much of a mirage. Turns out it may indeed be too much of a good thing, too easy.  No instant abs by midnight after all. Dad-gumbit. Crummy buttons. Boogers I say! Let's figure this out. Pinterest has recently created HTML code to block the pinning of your images, but you must add it to your site. Do creative types know how to add HTML code? I suppose if they have a website they might. Chances are great, like me, technology is not their first language. They may get things into place by good grace and don't know how to update it themselves. Pinterest has acknowledged with their no-pin HTML code that not everyone is into this very indiscriminate sharing of images that I adore. Let's continue.
  4. Laura Candler of Teaching Resources through her blog, Corkboard Creations has a fascinating article, "Do You Have Permission to Pin" on this very topic on her blog. Yes. It's THE Laura Candler who earlier just this week allowed me to share a guest author spot on her massively huge site. To read my article that Laura named, "Picture Perfect Teaching with Children's Books" click here. Turns out I am indeed making connections!! She's the one responsible for this lengthy outpouring of bits and pieces today. Thank you Laura for asking me/us to take a look at our feelings regarding pinning as bloggers and make them known to our readership.
  5. Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup fame shared this GUT WRENCHING article that she uncovered entitled, "Why I Tearfully Deleted my Inspiration Boards from Pinterest" with a group of us her fellow bloggers -- all of us concerned about all of the copyright issues involved with images at Pinterest. The author of the article is apparently BOTH a photographer AND a lawyer. Do you hear my internal organs churning? That article is longer than mine and cites case law. Her obviously brilliant lawyer-mind reaches the conclusion that the issues are many and murky.
  6. Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool mega-fame just so happened to blog about my IP in her blog article THIS morning!!!!! She has an amazing article involving my first book and how she had the children respond to my illustrations thru creative fine motor 'quilting' preparations of yarn thru burlap..... but you'll have to go to her article to see their work. BTW: I asked permission from Deborah to share her photo of my book with you. She said YES!!!!!!!!!! [This makes me want to launch a collection of other CELEBRITIES, teachers and librarians sharing my open-book images, but I digress. FOCUS Debbie.]
Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool Shares Debbie Clement's "You're Wonderful"

So how are all of these issues connected in my brain? In my heart?  

They all strike very near and dear to me. They are indeed connected to the bottom line. The financial bottom line. My financial bottom line. And honest-to-goodness, just as important if not more so, to me is my very own personal-legacy-bottom-line. Those of you that are aware of my two trips down the Breast Cancer diagnosis and treatment Tilt-o-Whirl journey over the last five years,  know that I speak of legacy with genuine reverence. What I have to contribute beyond my mortality is of grave importance to me.

My first thought? We are in the midst of uncharted territory. The cyber-possibilities we're considering are not just the Wild, Wild West. It is the Wild, Wild West mixed with the farthest flung galaxy, far far away. I'm no legal mind, but I'm just willing to bet that the existing laws don't address lots of the issues numbered above. How could they? Lots of these issues are just arising right now, in real time, at this very moment, THIS week! How did they deal with the first printing press? Bet it stirred up some new issues back in the day. 

Let's look at Pinterest. A visual learner's paradise. Even for the techno-challenged such as moi, it is easier to navigate than my email inbox. Truth be told, that since getting involved at Pinterest, their site is responsible for anywhere from 25 to 40% of my DIRECT daily traffic to my blog. That's a MASSIVE amount. HUGE. The difference between blogging here in my cave alone and others knowing that I exist. ENORMOUS!!!!! Pinterest is directly responsible for adding to my legacy. They bring me visibility on a daily basis. DAILY. Needless to say I want the world to figure out to embrace Pinterest and do so appropriately.

I sincerely hope that the "issues" at Pinterest revolving around copyrights and every other issue they may encounter get resolved for those who make their living on their 'visual' work -- photographers and artists come leaping to mind. Wild Wild West indeed. Teachers standing in front of me openly discussing their plans to 'burn-and- swap' hardly hold a candle to the can-of-worms-hornet's-nest evoked by the subtleties of Pinterest when it runs amuk -- without permission.

BTW: I'm getting better with my camera and I would be honored to have you pin my images as they are not my livlihood. I have decided to add my own 'credit' to my photos -- to help document them as mine. By all means save it to your screen saver. Be uplifted. Don't however use the image to manufacture greeting cards and put my photo out there into the world as 'yours.' Surely that makes sense.

I will add this l-o-n-g ramble to Laura's link-up on bloggers willing to give permission to others to pin images from their blog. If I could wave a great big huge neon fluttering polka-dotted flag of invitation to pin from my blog, I would. If I could figure out how to include that little red pin-it button on each post I would. Mental note to self: figure that out! In the mean time..... if its here, on my blog, please please please feel free to share it with the wider world. 

In the mean-time I will continue to post 99% photographs that I have taken. I am the source. I give you permission to share it. I suppose technically, if you want to repin Deborah reading my book you should ask her. Oh dear. WWW here we go (wild wild west!!!) There folks is the perfect example of the slippery slope.

*******Now people. You MUST MUST MUST learn how to connect your direct pin with its unique URL address, so that when you pin -- it is connected to the original source and the actual blog article in this example. This all gets especially 'tricky' if you see an image on someone's blog that is using a 'round-up concept,' pulling together a lot of different blogger ideas into one post at their blog. YE gads. And I know I'm guilty of poorly pinning from my own blog, so of course it requires some being awake to proceed correctly. 
*****ALWAYS click the title of the actual article on the blog for your original pin to connect to that very specific source. [There's nothing more frustrating than wanting to find the exact items in the recipe pictured and realizing you've just been directed to someone's entire blog instead of the article with the information you're seeking.]

I know that I think this is common sense, but I'll spell it out. The sort of thing you'd tell your teenager. If you don't want something on the web, don't put it there in the first place. Don't put a compromising picture on Facebook. Don't put an unflattering comment on someone's blog. Once its on the web, its on the web. Be aware.
So. As far as Debbie Clement. I welcome the pin. Pin to your heart's content. Go on at length in the description about how much you LUV the idea. While you're at it, tweet as well! Google. Stumble. Up. You know how to share appropriately? Then do so!

I ask that if you want to use images from my blog for your blog, it's appropriate and kind of you to ask for permission first. If you want to use one of my songs on YouTube, its also ubber-appropriate, important and ethical for you to ask first -- I will then remind you to give me credit in the credits of your video and we both will be very happy. If you ask me if you can use my work for your end of the year doo-dah parade I'll answer yes, I'd just request a footnote in your program. Easy peasy. Ask first. And that friends is what has been missing at Pinterest.

I want to live on the planet where everyone shares happily giving credit to the source of the idea, the origination of the inspiration and we all join hands in encouraging everyone to use their own capabilities and gifts for the improvement of our little corner of the world. Yes. I do. That's what I want, to be queen of Kweezletown, where everyone's up and seldom down. Let's work together on these issues and figure this out.

And that whole thing about 'burning' my IP to share with your teaching buddies? NEVER acceptable. Seriously. Not acceptable. In a perfect world I'd be tech savvy enough to figure out digital download. Maybe we'll get there in this lifetime. Anything's possible, right? After all you found this article. Anything's possible.

                                                          -- Debbie -- 
Believe it or not, this is the condensed version. I'll no doubt keep adding thoughts to this post. I seriously welcome your comments. Especially on this one folks. Eager to hear your thoughts. Especially if you're a blogger, or a person with IP, or you create unique original work wanting wider visibility, or if you are the creator at Pinterest -- weigh in please. 

On a completely related happy note, yesterday I was the featured blogger over at Dr.Mom Honestly people I am figuring out this get thyself connected concept!


  1. WoW - you've given me SO much to think about in this one post. I try to be SO careful because I know how it feels when someone uses my stuff as their own with no credit back to the source . . . it's NOT a warm fuzzy feeling, that's for sure. Thanks for the food for thought!


    1. Barbara! Thanks for your continued support. Just knowing you are out there reading along is supportive. That NOT warm fuzzy feeling is what we want to help others avoid -- for sure!

      These are issues that I consider ALL the time and I'm sure I have much to learn as we move forward into this increasingly 'connected' world.

  2. Yes, I have similar conversations in my "teacher" world as an elementary music specialist as to "why" I can't just "burn" that song for them. I feel good however about pointing them to the site that I purchased the music from that allows them to download and burn their own music for a modest fee. I have had the same conversation with my 1st and 2nd graders about why I can't just burn them a copy of their favorite song that we've sung. Again pointing them to a place that with the help and permission of their parents they can purchase and leagally download the music.

    As a designer (my other creative outlet) I credit those whose products I use and ask the same of those who use my work. Do I ALWAYS receive credit? No, but we ask and hope that articles like yours will open the eyes of the vast world that has been open through this electronic world we enjoy.

    Thank you for your thought provoking article as well as the open invitation to Pin your ideas/blog.

    1. There are lots of lessons to share aren't there? Respecting the work of others is one of those very basic concepts. Thank you for your efforts at respecting the boundaries. Thank you for your supportive response. I wasn't certain what to expect from my lengthy ramble.

      Of course you 'get it' as a creative type in your design world.

      You are quite welcome regarding the pintrest invitation. It's how we can get the word out regarding those of us with ideas to share.

  3. Thanks for this article, Debbie - it had never occurred to me that Pinning was a potential copyright infringement.

    In my own blog posts I've only ever used either my own images, public domain images or images for which I've received permission to use them with a link to the original source. I've posted a "Permission to Pin" blog post making it clear that while I would LOVE people to pin my own images or public domain images, other images that are sourced and linked should not be Pinned from my blog. Instead they should be Pinned from the original source, preferably with permission from the copyright owners.

    1. Glad to help move the conversation forward, Alec. Thanks for contributing to it from your platform as well. We each need to do our own piece of helping others understand some of the issues involved.

      Thanks, too for popping through.


  4. Alec I followed the link to this from a link of yours.

    If it wasn't for people sharing links to blogs I would never have discovered lots of wonderful childcare blogs. As a childminder in the UK the children I care for now have exciting things during the week from ideas I have got from these links. the same can be said of Pinterest. I follow links from images I have liked.

    I have a couple of blogs that I know are not read if they are it is by close friends only but they are there for me more than anything but talented people like yourselves who share things through blogs are my lifesavers so I would like to say a big thank you

    Sorry I know a little of what the subject was but I hope you see why I had to comment. Thank you


      Welcome to my little corner of contribution. Yes. The world of blogging is able to bring brilliance into every day. It's so great to hear from those who benefit from our 'collective' blogging efforts. Please continue to share and appreciate. It makes everything worthwhile to hear from a reader.


  5. Whew! Thanks for your insight, Debbie. I do think it is so important for us to always be mindful of where our inspiration or idea came from. I had a recent problem where I had a free download on my blog that originated from an idea a friend shared with me years ago. Turns out it was similar to a copyrighted program. So, I took my free download immediately. The lesson I learned? Don't post anything that if I don't know the original source of if it isn't my own IP. Great job! Bringing this all out in the open.

    1. Yup, Deanna. I did indeed have a lot to share on the issue. Thanks for wading it. I'm so grateful to you for your support. There's a lot that we can do to bring these issues to the forefront.

      I had read your heart-felt response that you mention here, directly on your blog. Your example can help shape the community. We have so much experience to reflect on that some ideas lose their beginning -- especially as the years roll on. Very professional of you to respond as you did. I'm proud of you! Thanks for your continued support and encouragement.

      Ever onward.


I LUV to hear from you! Please leave your thoughts so we can interact!!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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