No Belief in the “Tip Jar Economy”

Use Their Work Free? Artists Say No to Google (pdf)

Mr. Taxali, an illustrator based in Toronto whose work has appeared in publications like Time, Newsweek and Fortune, received a call in April from a member of Google’s marketing department. According to Mr. Taxali, the Google representative explained that the project will let users customize Google Chrome pages with artist-designed “skins” in their borders.

“The first question I asked,” Mr. Taxali said in a recent interview, “is ‘What’s the fee?’”

Mr. Taxali said that when he was told Google would pay nothing, he declined.

In the ensuing weeks, a tide of indignation toward Google swelled among illustrators, who stay connected through Drawger, a Web site.

Ted Rall writes a letter to the Times today that is particularly scathing:

It’s offensive that a company that reports annual profits in the billions refuses to pay independent artists for their labor.

Sadly, the Web revolution has turned “information wants to be free” into a mantra. Whether it’s illustrators, cartoonists or musicians, working for free ought to have gone out with slavery. Congress ought to act to make it illegal for a profitable corporation to solicit work without paying for it.