Let Us Not Be Dicks

Adam Moore/LÆMEUR
Cartoonist & Ace Doodler

A Gentlemen's Agreement With The World

In the age of online media sharing, "all rights reserved" is a bit too harsh. It means that you're violating my copyright and breaking the law if you post one of my pictures on your blog or your Facebook page. I don't want to reserve all of my rights if that means criminalizing the act of sharing, so I use the phrase "most rights reserved".

Occasionally I'll use a Creative Commons license or something more legally explicit when posting material I've authored online, but I'm not comfortable with using any of their licenses (or any others that I've seen) for everything I post. Those licenses try to be legally bullet-proof, and as a consequence they're inflexible. Instead, I prefer to have a gentlemen's agreement(1) with the general public and say, let's not be dicks.

Unless you see a license explicitly stated on or near my work, my attitude with regard to copyright is this: private and public non-commercial use of my work is fine; you can blog(2) it, link it, re-post it, print it out and paper your walls with it, print it out and paper your birdcage with it — do whatever you like. I ask only the following: please don't remove signatures, copyright, and licensing information(3), please don't post, publish, or share the work in an altered/edited state without indicating that it's been changed(4), and please don't make money from it without giving me a cut. I reserve the exclusive right to commercially exploit my work. If you want to use it commercially, just contact me and we'll work something out. I'm notoriously cheap (to my wife's endless frustration), so you'll probably get a good deal.

I respect everyone's right to participate in the creation and propagation of culture. I hope that everyone will respect the rights of myself and others to control the use of our work.



1. It's a sexist ol' phrase, I know, but it's meaning is widely understood, so it's useful.

2. Be careful with this one. If you write/blog for a commercial site and they pay you, or if you're the sole proprietor of a site or blog and it generates revenue(2a), and you post my work without clearing it, you're a dick. The site, and you, are making money from my work, and I'm not. There's a limit to fair use. Don't be a dick.

2a. No, this doesn't apply to you if you have a blog with a hundred subscribers and you run banner ads that net you a few bucks every month. I'm not trying to be a dick. This applies to you if your site is your primary source of income or a significant source of supplemental income.

3. If you want to use a print-on-demand service to print an image on one coffee mug for your personal use, but you don't want the ugly copyright notice at the bottom, cut it off. The gist here is that I don't want my work circulating online without any authorship/copyright information. For private use, do what you wish.

4. Here's the rationale behind that one: if you make a change to my art, particularly if it's a bad change, but people are given no indication that the art has been changed by a third party, they'll think that the art is unchanged, and is as I intended it to be. And that will make me look bad. Art directors and editors won't want to hire me because they'll think I have poor judgement or no taste or am incompetent. And my family will starve. I don't want that.