Old story: two employees argue. They both come in to the boss, explain their points of view, expecting the boss to make a decision about which one of them is right and who is wrong.
And the boss makes a decision. The boss gets angry and then fires them both on the spot.
It's not the right way to manage things, but you may know the story.
Let's talk cartooning for a living.
When you invoice a someone for a cartoon that they bought from you, have you ever had a client refuse to pay?
Did you ever have a client complain that your invoice is an "extortion letter" and refuse to pay?
Did they post about it online, at a site devoted to talking about extortion letters called "Extortion Letters Online," and have other people to cheer them on, telling them to ignore the bills for cartoons?
Did anyone ever compare paying for a cartoon with "a version of the Nigerian scam?"
It didn't happen to me. I hope it did not ever happen to you. But it did happen last year.
Here's the story. This is from the Extortion Letters Online chat board:
Stacy McArdle from Chicago used a cartoon on her site. The image was owned by Cartoonstock.com.
Cartoonstock emailed a letter telling her it was theirs and she had to pay $98.70 for its use. She responded by saying she had pulled it off of Google and it didn't have the Cartoonstock logo all over it, so she was ignorant that it was owned by them. Besides, she had taken it off her site.
Other people chime in on the chat board:
"My suggestion is either pay them or ignore them."
"It is too easy for these extortionists to move their model to a $100-$200 per image scam operation and allow them to make unsupportable claims on anyone due to their sloppiness."
"It's only about the money for them."
"You could publicly shame them on the interwebs, it would be a nice 'ding' to their reputation."
"I would ignore them."
"This is a version of the Nigerian scams."
When you can read a whole chat board topic all about a cartoon and someone says that paying for a cartoon is a scam and extortion, it kinda puts a dark cloud over your day.
I am not the boss of Stacy McArdle and Cartoonstock, but if they came to me with their problems, I would be angry at both. Stacy used an image for her business without paying. Cartoonstock's approach of a formal demand letter is wrong.
People taking my cartoons and posting them for fun on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram is fine with me. They are doing it for fun. But a business taking one of my cartoons without consent to help promote their organization -- well, that's wrong.
Most people who do that are ignorant of the laws. When it's happened to me, I have called the company, and found that person. I have chatted with them on the phone. Yes, the phone.
Over the phone, I have thanked them sincerely for liking my cartoon so much that they used it to help promote themselves, but they have to compensate me. After all, I am the person who took that blank piece of paper and made an image that is of value.
This goes for for-profit and non-profit companies.
My thanks to Randy Glasbergen for letting me know about this. Thanks, Randy!