Lion or monkey Humberto Machado

the right thing to do

As on many websites, there is a contact form on mine. It’s meant to give the health-coaching-curious a way to reach out for more information, and there are also some rules of engagement to note before you fill in the form.

If you’re trying to get me to join an MLM scheme or sell me on your services or write me a guest blog post, the right thing to do after reading those rules would be to move on.

Apparently, many people don’t read the rules, because I get more requests to 1) join an MLM scheme, 2) hire a [coach/copywriter/social media manager/etc.], 3) write guest posts than I get what I consider “real” requests.

Or perhaps people read them and ignore them anyway? There is a pervasive cultural phenomenon that “the rules don’t apply to me.”

I’ve pretty much stopped wondering why kids break rules because I see so many of their parents take this approach in front of them. Whether it’s going “just 10 miles over” the speed limit or parking in a no parking zone “just for a minute,” our kids are watching. And imitating.

Have you ever had someone zip past you on the highway, gaily weaving in and out of traffic and causing others to swerve, hit their brakes, and wish that driver would suffer a gruesome death? I’d never wish that on anyone—and I wouldn’t mind seeing them pulled over and slapped with a huge fine—only it feels like that never happens.

But back to the contact page: just before Thanksgiving this year, I received a wholly unexpected and very welcome note via that form … but let’s start at the beginning of the story.

intellectual property

Intellectual property has been a hot topic, especially in the China/America relationship, for years now, and it’s more than a little dissonant that we clamor for others to adhere to IP rules when on social media and websites, Americans flagrantly abuse the same rules.

Artists—in fact, all creators—deserve to make a living from their art/products, and when we use their works without licensing or, at a minimum, attribution, they lose potential income. (I’m trying really, really hard not to snark about how some people in America are so firmly against communism/socialism and yet feel as though they have a right to other people’s work and income….)

Having gone through the process of registering both a copyright and a trademark myself, I think anyone who creates for a living deserves a medal in addition to all the income they can make from their work.

Compared to those processes, it takes much less work to track down the source of an image/song/poem/whatever and ask for permission to use it. Yes, there may be licensing fees involved to use it. And—it’s the right thing to do.

Being a (very) small business, I generally use free stock photos from websites such as Pexels and Pixabay, where even attribution is optional, and I occasionally splurge and purchase the rights to images found on other stock photo sites.

Most recently, I try to acknowledge the creator even when attribution is not required—because it’s the right thing to do. And because I’ve had friends who have gotten in trouble for posting images without permission. I’ve also received a note from a lawyer telling me I was using his client’s art without permission: not sure whether it was a scam, but when I directed him to where I’d found the image for free use, he apologized and that was the end of that.

Yup, I’m a rule follower if you haven’t figured that out yet.

lion or monkey?

What does all this have to do with my website’s contact form?

You may have seen my blog post about optical illusions from October 30. In it, I refer to an optical illusion for which I couldn’t reliably track down the source—so I didn’t post the image, just described it.

And on November 20, I received the following note via the contact form:

I ran into your website today and I saw that you had written an article of my Lion or Monkey illusion. I just want to say thank you for not posting it without my consent. You are the 0.01 percent of all websites that have respected it. That’s why I’m messaging you to give you permission to use this image. … Once again I want to say thank you and I hope you have a great day. Keep on keeping us healthy. We Americans need it.

I felt like I’d won the lottery. Actually, no. It felt more like I was the driver who got passed on the highway only to see that reckless driver pulled over by a highway patrolman a bit down the road.

But really—0.01 percent?!? Is it any wonder some of our politicians don’t seem to be able to tell right from wrong? No, we’re not going there today.

And I won’t lie—it feels good to be rewarded for playing by the rules….

So if you were wondering about that image, it’s at the top of this post: “Lion or Monkey?” Humberto Machado, 2020. Used by permission.

make the connection

Check out more of Humberto’s work on his website. And please—don’t use it without permission!

Are you a rule follower? Tell us about a time it paid off in the comments.