OK, I'm about to vent.
I spent an hour this morning tracking down contact information for a website that's running - without my permission - a column I wrote last summer. Another publication then picked up the column and is running it on their website.
To their credit, they both did give me a byline. Although neither one linked to my website.
But they both are in violation of copyright law.
What's the big deal, you ask? The column they ran gives me exposure to their audiences, and they at least gave me credit, which is more than those poor writers get when their columns become email chain letters and get forwarded around the world for years.
The big deal, I respond, is that I didn't get paid.
I know, I know. You're thinking, But you're a Christian! If your writing helps someone else be a better person or help their neighbor, you shouldn't make a big deal about getting paid. After all, what you do is a ministry.
My response? Do you work for free? Do you get up every day and spend hours doing your job, give up weekends and time with family to work, all without expecting to get paid?
Of course not. Even your pastor, whose job is basically ministry, gets paid.
So when a website or newsletter runs a column I've written, without my permission, they're taking money out of my pocket. And at $25 a reprint, trust me, every sale counts.
And more importantly, they're breaking the law. And if you're a Christian, you should be just as concerned about that as you are about asking me to consider my job a ministry.
Because my job is my job. And my ministry is my ministry. Do the two sometimes intersect? Of course. Over the years, I've given away tons of writing to churches and publications and ministries.
But there's a difference between me making a choice to give something away and having it stolen.
What if f I took money out of your paycheck without your permission because I needed it to eat? You're a Christian, right? Isn't it ministry to feed the hungry? You'd be ticked, I'm sure. But if I was desperate and I asked for money and you felt you wanted to contribute, well, that's another story. You made a choice about donating.
So here's the deal: don't take my columns, or other writers' columns, or articles you find on a website or in a magazine or newsletter or even an email, and reprint them without the permission of the author. When you do that, you take away the opportunity for that author to sell the article to someone else. And more importantly, you violate the law.
You're a Christian. You're supposed to obey the law, too. Right?
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