Before you steal my video

I recently came across multiple YouTube videos where the uploaders had ripped my video from Vimeo, added their own music, and re-uploaded it as their own.

To their credit, a couple of the videos listed my name in the description, and one even linked to the original video. But some of the videos ran YouTube ads, which meant these people were, theoretically, directly profiting from using my work.

I issued a copyright claim through Google, to which they quickly responded and took down the offending videos. I had one of the uploaders email me to apologize and asked that I reconsider or at least explain why I filed the claim. It comes down to one simple point: I make a living making videos, and my reputation as a filmmaker is all I have.

It's a funny problem to have, someone stealing your work. On one hand, it's kind of flattering. Knowing that you made something good enough that people want to steal it. I'm all for a free and open internet, which is why I give away all of my videos for free, including my 25-minute documentary that I spent thousands of dollars and nearly a year making.

The problem is that without knowing how my video is being displayed (and where), I don't know what image is being put forth of my work. Particularly the people who have participated in my videos as models, actors, or themselves. Their image is now being used to promote a song or website that they may not be comfortable with.

It's a problem that will never go away, and will only increase as I make more videos, hopefully increasing both in quality and popularity. It's kind of like critics – once you have some, you finally feel like you've arrived.

But my message to anyone who wants to take my work without permission is simple: just ask. If you want to collaborate on a project, I'd gladly consider it. Some common courtesy goes a long way. I never want to stop people that are enthusiastic about sharing my work. Let's just work together, instead of against each other.

Andy Newman