A few weeks ago, a friend told me that the photo of my late-2004 creation, the “I like naps.” shirt, has been used to make “flairs” on Facebook by three different individuals, all of whom I don’t know. This news first upset me. The Naps Shirt was my precious widely-loved creation, and now it’s been taken for other uses without my permission.
Very quickly, my mind skipped the stage of acceptance and landed in the state of dilemma. What should I do? Should I let it go without intervention? Should I inform Serge Varela, Kelly Barnes, and Nora McLeese and confiscate those virtual “flairs” (if it’s even possible)?
I weighed the pros and cons: If I let it be, my design could be spread virally, and some nap-loving organization could potentially trace it back to me and give me the job of a lifetime and I become a successful designer. Or, the origin of the design could be lost, someone else would claim authorship, and they would get the job of a lifetime and become a successful designer.
And even if I fight for it after the fact, I would be perceived as (if not already) a bitter, bitter man, unwilling to let a silly design go, which could also be the outcome anyway if I “confiscate” the flairs now and establish maximum control on the use of that image on the Internet, where the spirit of “FREE!” and community-based sharing contributes to the thrive and success of the medium.
At the same time, who am I to talk about the ethics of stealing, being an Internet user myself? I often search the web for free stuff, and sometimes for free stuff that aren’t supposed to be free.
So what should I do? I realize now that more relevantly, the question should be, “What can I do?” And the answer is, “I can blog about it.” As of right now, this is as much as I will do. It may be passive aggressive, but I also have to consider the original spirit of the shirt’s creation: to spread joy, to have fun, and to share a common affinity with fellow nap-likers.