I almost bit into my keyboard today. I mean - seriously? Neil Gaiman Presents 'A Calendar of Tales'
In a nutshell: The Blackberry Corp. is asking us gullible idiots to create and submit art for them to use as they please (commercially and without the need for credit), with the artist waiving all rights to their art by submitting - Blackberry will hold all rights to the submitted content exclusively. Oh, you get a pretty little badge. Now isn't that nice?
I have no words. I can't even begin to express how much this angers and upsets me.
But this is only one symptom of an underlying bigger problem - the lack of value our society puts in art. "Yes, we'd like to have pretty things, but no, we don't really want to pay for them. It's not real work, is it? So why should I pay some weirdo for having fun?"
But art is real work. It is mentally (and, depending on the technique, potentially physically) exhausting. Honing our skills over years (decades) takes money, time, and effort. Artists deserve recognition, and they deserve to be paid. Especially (though not exclusively) when their art is used to make money for other people.
"Oh, but they are fanartist. They'll do it for free. For the fun of it."
No. This is not, absolutely not, what fanart is about. I'm a proud fanartist, even if the term has become a slur. I don't care. I do what I want.
What is "fanart" anyway? By one definition it's art inspired by some previously existing artwork (using the broad definition of the term here - can be anything, fine arts, music, film, or literature). The fanartist creates their art for themselves, because they love the source-material. This definition applies to a lot of art, both modern and ancient. William Blake illustrating Dante's "Divine Comedy"? Fanart. Dante Rossetti changed his name to "Dante" because he was his idol. Gods, what a fanboy. Crêtien de Troyes rewriting the Arthurian legends (adding a Mary-Sue/Marty-Stue to boot - yes, Lancelot)? Fanfiction. Heh, Real Person Fanfiction. Walt Disney's "Fantasia"? Fanart.
I could go on.
But these examples aren't actually called fanart, aren't they? So where is the difference between de Troyes writing a story with his own OMC (maybe) boinking Queen Guinevere, and a fangirl writing a story about her OFC boinking any character she's obsessed with at the time? There must be a difference, because original art is valued (sort of), and fanart isn't. Many hold the opinion that fanart isn't real art, or even worse, that the act of producing fanart is stealing.
The difference is copyright. And copyright is about money, not about art. Follows then that the only art worth calling such (and worth producing at all in the opinion of many) is art you are allowed to sell.
Funny thing about fanart that isn't common knowledge: It exists in a legal grey area - the fanartist isn't allowed to make money off it, but neither is the holder of the copyright to the source-material. The content doesn't belong to the fanartist, but the image/story/whatever itself does. So a company that uses a piece of fanart without the artist's permission is, in fact, stealing. A company that asks fans to produce fanart for them to use for free is cheating (fan)artists.
Because if you hold the rights to something and ask an artist to illustrate it - well, I think that's what's called a commission. And here we are again: Artists being undervalued and not given back for what they give.