Good afternoon all – just some observations from an ethical perspective of a topic that seems to spark debate from time to time. The subject in question is the sanctity of one’s work and the ethical treatment of a public posting of such work.
Here at LJs, we have a community attitude towards woodworking. We all share ideas, techniques, designs, indulge in problem solving and that open attitude will occasionally cause some friction. In my mind, I see this as misunderstanding between the mindset of the hobbyist and the mindset of the artist.
I am a hobbyist. I create things that appeal to me (which is a feat in itself) but know that my work will never end up in a museum, art gallery, or make the woodworking books. I am good with this. If, by some miracle, I make up a design that has mass public appeal and others want to use it as is or modify to their own liking, I would not be any prouder. My blogging of a project often is not for the purpose of educating or pulling someone in to my craftsmanship but to show others more skilled than I am what is going through my head and encourage you folks to respond to either verify that I am progressing to the proper mindset of a woodworker or whether I am off the deep end and someone will toss me a rope and save me from myself :)
There are others here that are artists. True artists in every aspect of the word. They perfect technique, they agonize over design, they push themselves to go beyond, not just what they could accomplish before, but what anyone has accomplished before. And here is where design can be a sensitive thing and not to be used lightly.
And here is the rub. Legally, if one posts, they do put it in the public domain. And one can argue that once it is out there, the work is no longer just owned by the poster but also the community. That argument is logically sound but ethically wrong. When I see the postings of such artists as degoose, patron, martyn, autumn, I feel as if I am getting a sneak peak in the mind of a Sam Maloof, a Vincent Van Gogh, or a Pablo Picasso (who incidentally bragged about stealing ideas …). What I don’t want to do is rock the boat by taking over advantage of the step by step snapshots and steal the thunder from these special individuals.
But, I can understand how a hobbyist can misinterpret these postings as a tutorial or a step by step instructional to create the same design.
So here is what I propose. If one is working out the details on a project that has not yet gone to fruition, maybe we can add verbage to the working title such as “work in progress” that can be understand by all to mean that this is documented studio time and not a tutorial for the hobbyist. I am sure misunderstandings are not completely avoidable, but we all do respect the work and try our best not to infringe. Establishing a consistent verbage detailing original work that is part of our lumberjock vocab might help at least keep our community a little more free of faux pas’ that might stifle the free creativity we enjoy here.
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.