Stealing

One of my beautiful readers suggested that I tackle the issue of Matthew Christopher Nelson (better known as the idiot picture stealing jerk). Apparently she’d like to read my take on it, and I never like to disappoint you lovely people who spend time reading my ramblings.

Unless you lived under a rock for the past week or so (not being on Tumblr almost counts as living under a rock these days!) you very likely heard about the guy who set up a Kickstarter fundraiser to make some money by way of stealing from one group of people and tricking another group of people into paying him for stealing. Here’s a link to a post on DoA about it, and here’s just one of the many posts on Tumblr about him. As soon as one person discovered his Kickstarter project, it spread like wildfire through our tight-knit community. He stole an enormous amount of pictures, and only a handful was actually shown on his Kickstarter project. When checking his Facebook profile there were even more stolen pictures. It appears he’s taken them down now, but if you go and check his pictures, you can still enjoy his flair for using filters on everything. You might want to wear some form of protective glasses.

When you grow up, you’re supposed to realise that stealing is wrong. While most people understand that they shouldn’t fill their pockets with toothpaste in the supermarket, it appears that a lot think that art is free-for-all. And photography is hardly even art – you just snap a picture with your mobile, slap an Instagram filter on it and post it online. It’s hardly any work, so how can it belong to anyone! Reality is that while maybe even the majority of pictures on the vast internet are these took-no-work pictures of your friends hanging out or your dog being cute, other pictures are works of art in their own right that took incredibly long to produce. While it may take a second to press the shutter button, weeks may have gone into preparing a background, creating props and styling your doll. If that doesn’t make it art, I don’t know what will. And even if you don’t consider it art – well, guess what: It still isn’t yours to take!

But in cases like this we see something worse than simply reposting that gorgeous shot of the doll you so admire onto Facebook and not telling people that it isn’t yours. In cases like this, it transcends from violating, insulting and selfish into actual stealing of not just intellectual and artistic property, recognition, and hard work, but also of money. When you try to sell someone else’s hard work, you’re not just taking the praise and admiration that rightfully belongs to them – you’re robbing them of money that could have bought necessities or materials for a new, amazing shot.

When poor, unfortunate Nelson got his project shut down, he actually got angry – people shouldn’t mess with him. He took that down from Facebook later as well. I agree with him though. We shouldn’t mess with thieves, we should fine them and possibly put them in jail. But really. If he feels robbed of his hard work (let’s pretend for a moment that slapping filters on is hard, because he really must have used an awful lot of filters for those horrible results), then why can’t he understand that he is in the wrong? Or is he really that attached to the images as representation of his own characters that he genuinely feels entitled to them? He did the hard work of coming up with the story (supposedly), finding the right images, and photoshopping them, so now he has a right to them?

I wonder what went through Nelson’s head when he chose the pictures to steal. Did he think he was targeting a small, insecure community? That people wouldn’t speak up because it’s embarrassing for an adult to own dolls? The community proved him wrong, and I’m sincerely hoping that other dishonest people take what happened this time as a warning. The community will forget all the anger and diversion within it and fight back when people steal our hard work.

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4 thoughts on “Stealing

  1. I had no idea this was going on (yep, been living under a rock!). This always makes me so annoyed whenever I see people like this person taking other people’s work and selling it or telling everyone it’s theirs. Photos do take a lot of time (and a lot of twisting your body to get just that right shot) to do and plan. And as you said, it is art. Props don’t just appear out of thin air and dolls don’t just style themselves. A lot of thought goes into taking photos of any kind.

    I’m pretty speechless this person got angry over being told to take other people’s stuff down that didn’t belong to them in the first place and being caught out doing the wrong thing.

    I think a lot of it also stems from this mentality that if it’s on the net, then it’s a free for all. In this day and age, people don’t seem to understand the term copyright or intellectual property. We shouldn’t have to post stuff that says don’t use our photos without permission from the photographer but we do and even then, it gets ignored. It should be a given that if you want to use someone’s photos, you ask them first unless they’ve stated somewhere on their site that you can use it under the Creative Commons license.

    • Good thing I can then bring info to you, haha! 😉

      I wholeheartedly agree with that last part – people really do think that if you post it online, you’re okay with it being used without credit. It’s scary that people actually think that if you don’t want to “share” (as in, have your art stolen), you just shouldn’t post online. Don’t they understand that the only result from that would be that we would all miss out on a lot of great things.

  2. I think Mr. Nelson is actually somewhat mentally disturbed. The way he sees the actual artist asking him to taking down their stolen artwork from his various sites and profiles, as sort of violations against him and his ‘creativeness’ is just amazing. One should think that this man – who is in fact a grown up of about 40-50 years old – would admit to his crimes when the evidence gets so overwhelming as it has, but in stead he just turns diva/crybaby/victim-wannabe like he was 6 years old. That shows some messed up mentality if you ask me. He refuses to give in and apologize, and only removes the stolen work reluctantly. I mean, he has a small child and a wife, how can he do this to them? Now he will always be associated with art-theft. I don’t think he gave the consequences any thought at all because how will he explain this to his son later in life, when his son starts finding out? What happens on the internet, stays on the internet, so of cause his son will be able to read this stuff about his father when he becomes big enough to use a computer. I feel sorry for his son, having a father that did not think about the consequences or just don’t give a s**t. :/

    • He is indeed 44 years of age according to an interview he’s done. So yep, grown ass man who acts very childish and very entitled!
      Not only will he always be associated with art-theft, I also saw a rumor somewhere that Disney is actually on him now, too! So yes, he might be in big trouble, which is awful for his family. His wife might not have been aware of what he’s been doing at all, but if it ends up having financial consequences, she and their son will suffer those as well.

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