I woke up this morning to find an email informing me of yet another cross stitch "sharing" site. A little "members only" site run by a large Chinese conglomerate. You can join by simply entering a user name and your email address and then .... you can upload cross stitch charts so that everyone else who is a member can download them.
There I found that just by posting enough comments I could earn "gold coins". And what could I do with these "gold coins"? I could download almost all of my charts for free. I could also earn even more "gold coins" by uploading any chart in my collection.
Trouble is ... I can't pay my rent or buy groceries with these "gold" coins. And I'm going to have trouble paying my rent and buying groceries if my charts continue to be pirated on these kinds of sites.
They call it "sharing". On this board people are actually thanking each other for "sharing". They are posting comments like "thank you for sharing this beautiful chart". Sharing? Strange new definition for "sharing". Stealing is what it is actually.
I don't know about you but I don't think I would enjoy stitching a chart that I know I had stolen. It would nag at me constantly with each stitch I took. Same reason I don't steal movies or music over the internet. Something would just bother me about listening to that music or watching that movie.
Everyone says ... "Hey, you're just taking from a big multinational corporation.... Sony Pictures, Universal, NBC. They make millions of dollars. You're just taking one song, one movie ... and times are tough. What difference will it make?"
It will make a big karmic difference! Because then that attitude starts to seep down into everything we do. We justify downloading free cross stitch patterns over the internet to save $8.00. We justify stealing from a fellow stitcher who earns her living designing the charts that give us so many hours of pleasure. Pretty soon we're justifying not returning that extra change that the cashier gave us by mistake. Pretty soon we don't bother to return that wallet we found on the sidewalk. Pretty soon every thing we do is about "us" and what "we" want or feel entitled to. Pretty soon we don't care about what happens to others anymore.
And it's not just me. There were thousands of charts there. Everyone from Lizzie Kate to Miribilia. All your favorite designers .... available for download .... for FREE!! Yahoo!!! They'll never miss that little bit of income you stole from them .... right? Right?
As I'm getting ready to release new charts, this was particularly discouraging. I began to think "what's the point?" Months and months of work and then people will just upload them to these sites. It really doesn't seem worth it anymore. It's too difficult to try to keep up with these "pirates". A few weeks, sometimes just a few days, after the new designs are released they are available for free download on the internet. I'm a very, very small enterprise. One person. I don't have the strength or endurance or resources to hunt down and fight these "pirates".
So what to do? Perhaps look for a job where people can't freely and easily steal part of my paycheck each month.
I am not so much angry as I am discouraged. I have this talent for designing these patterns and I love doing it but it is time consuming and tedious work. There comes a point when you have to decide if working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week is worth it. If I'm not earning enough to pay the rent or buy groceries, then I need to find a job where I will.
I wish these people would stop and think for just a moment before they hit the "download" button. Do they understand that what they are doing is stealing? Do they realize they are stealing part of someone's monthly paycheck? Do they realize that they are contributing to the demise of their own favorite hobby. This kind of pirating does not hurt just one designer. It hurts hundreds. It hurts the entire industry. Each time someone downloads an illegal copy of a chart a designer loses part of their income, a distributor loses part of their income and a shop owner loses part of their income. It adds up quickly.
Why are so many shops closing and why are so many good designers quitting the business and moving on to other occupations?
Because so many thieves are shoplifting from them that they can't afford to stay in business any longer.
What goes around comes around,