Instead of venting and having inappropriate reactions following Celeste Melancholia’s channel termination, I decided to take a more refined care of that problem (and I may have good news regarding that incident, as I can now say here that her work isn’t lost and is currently in a safe place). I’ve been on the web for so long (since 2000-2001) to have witnessed all sorts of behaviours concerning posting content on the web, might it be a simple post on a message board, a drawing, an entire website, videos on Youtube, or even pointless and rubbish comments.
It’s time for me to expose my views on the topic after thinking about it for so long. There had been a lot of behaviours that I considered myself inappropriate from either creators or simple viewers but also felt my own views were somewhat wrong. Then those behaviours became more and more common until they harmed quality content I really enjoyed (see my awkward venting about The Maid who leapt through time and it’s author Shin-Chan, on Twitter and /jp if you’re courageous). I also decided to have even more hindsight on that topic and stop categorizing an entire batch of people because of the behaviour of only a tiny portion of them.
What you’ll read here is the continuation to a post a I originally posted on Reddit (/r/touhou). I chose to post it here in order not to clutter my original post and stay on-topic. Here’s the post in context: https://www.reddit.com/r/touhou/comments/7h6mm5/people_please_ask_permissions_before_reprinting/
Again, this is a personal view, and you don’t have to agree with it. I also think artists themselves can be over-possessive, over-reactive and may not have enough hindsight. They just think “hey, it’s cool I’m gonna share my work online!” only to discover that the web isn’t the bright place they thought it was and there are a ton of things and behaviours they forgot to consider. The ones who post stuff only to delete it only 2 months later are the worst in that regard (they often hide their decision behind so-called “personal reasons”). Posting stuff online is indeed a responsibility, either you’re a creator or just an annoying reprinter. Some discover that way too late and can’t handle their presence on the long term very well.
To reprinters: Please don’t underestimate the side-effects of reprinting (or simply borrowing) someone else’s work, even if you credit him/her and add your own valuable work on top of it. You never know how the author’s going to react to it (some take it well, but some will over-react negatively as I mentioned earlier). I know that because I ventured myself, and regretted it afterwards. Some well known and talented artists also ventured and they bit the dust because they mistakenly thought “it’s okay as I’m myself an artist too”. Also, don’t be rude to artists, even if they react negatively. They have their rights to do so, as their work belongs to them first, and they surely don’t want it being taken out of their hands, especially if they’re trying to make a living of their works and you offer them for free. Having one’s approval is the best way to reprint one’s work, as the author will clearly know who will reprint it and where it will be reprinted. This settles good terms between the author and the reprinter. Please don’t go against their will if you get a negative answer from the author regarding reprinting, as this is even worse. You may upset the author even more and push him/her into rushed decisions. Having their work getting out of their control is something most artists hate dealing with. Keep that in mind before ignoring their refusal to your reprint request.
The best example of this is the Touhousubs Youtube channel. Its owner always asks permissions first, and always keeps an eye over possible copyright reclamations from third parties. Also, every reprinted work that generates more views than the original submission from its original country is systematically made unlisted, in order to encourage viewers to access playlists instead and give more visibility to the original work. I also like his approach in always encouraging his viewers to support original creators on their original place, in order to give them good habits. Thanks to him, I now systematically follow authors I like, mylist (fave) and throw ad tickets to works I enjoy on Nico Nico Douga. That’s the best way in maintaining a reprinting channel (which has a good reason to exist, as it offers translations of Touhou fanworks in English and sometimes other languages) in the long term. On the total opposite, I find Reddevils500’s approach very questionable and even harmful, as it seems to be based on solely self-exposure and opportunism. It also infantilizes its viewer base by giving them very bad habits. For me, Reddevils500’s channels represent everything I dislike about reprinting, inciting to do everything you mustn’t do.
To creators: Pay a closer attention to how the web works. Think twice before sharing your works online. Don’t hesitate to ask friends or people you know about it. Be prepared of what your works will generate if they ever have success. Think about the long term. Think about possible frustration from viewers you may trigger if you delete your works, even if you consider them minor (they may have unseen, peculiar qualities or potential which you were unable to notice from your creator’s own view). Consult your friends or people you know well again before you decide to do so, or before any potential rushed decision. You will experience good but also bad things during your “web carieer”, as I said the web isn’t as bright as one think. There will be times when you’ll lose your lucidity and not have appropriate reactions to delicate situations (people abusing your kindness and asking too much requests, unfair criticism, offending comments, harassment, wild unauthorized reprinting, content theft, etc.). At some point you may wonder if you’re not simply way too implicated for what was supposed to remain a mere hobby. And that’s the key, distancing one’s self from all that can help. This will help you remaining productive (perhaps much less than before) while retaining hindsight and keeping one’s head clean and straight. You may find yourself starting all over something from scratch whereas it was probably not that bad in the first place but your biased or disconnected perception made you think otherwise. That’s why it’s important not to start announcing things or scheduling projects when you’re not sure of yourself, or even of their completion. This will add even more frustration to your viewer base who will wonder what the heck you’re doing and why you’re not respecting your planned completion dates. This is again an indication of needing to distance oneself and put things in perspective again. Also, a viewer can sometimes see things in your creations that you’re not able to see yourself (strengths, weaknesses, etc.). Last thing, not all viewers are bad or brainless idiots. Viewers are as important as your work itself as they can influence your creativity in a good or a bad way. So definitely don’t overlook or disconsider them.
To viewers: Keep in mind creating is a “time, motivation and energy”-consuming process that sometimes disconnects you from real life. An artist can’t be 100% focussed on his art all the time, as (s)he may have a busy life or may live from his/her art or content directly, biasing even more his/her views towards separating hobbies and work. Again, don’t be rude to artists, even if they fail to handle their long term presence or if they become unproductive. You may be a finer critic to one’s work than the author him/herself but it’s because you’re simply a viewer. Busy artists can sometimes “screw up” because they have been gradually disconnected. That’s the sign of needing a break and having to be more realistic. As a viewer, while you may complain why your favourite artist stopped producing stuff/underwent a radical style change/stopped doing art of your favourite character or franchise/can’t continue his series anymore/is unable to meet expected completion deadlines, you have to consider all the above (plus some bits I wrote into the “creators” paragraph). The energy and time creators use (or waste, some would say) to create can disconnect them and remove a part of their lucidity and their perception of time. Instead of sounding rude, upset and annoyed, remain nice to your artist if you are ever to contact him/her about his situation. Because of the energy spent in creating, one can become over-sensitive and prone not to react properly. Also, while remaining nice, show the author that you’re actually interested in what (s)he does and emphasis the unique or peculiar qualities of one’s work, comparing it to others and show him/her how his work is valuable and that his/her works are missed.
Note: You may have noticed that I added things to that post along the way, when they finally came to mind. I may still add other things or points I forgot about if they ever come to mind regarding the topic. As you also noticed, this is far from being straightforward topic and I recommand to think more than twice if you ever have to deal with related issues. It’s not an all-black or all-white topic and there’s no evil or hero. This is perhaps one of the most complex issue since the creation of the internet and we’ll always find people falling into the trap and not reacting properly regardless of the category they belong to.