I Utterly Failed to Credit Someone Else’s Creative Work
As part of making it right, I am sharing what I did along with a public apology.
Last year, in the process of writing a chapter about how we normalize sexual harassment and assault in our dominant man box culture of masculinity, I went searching for the sexual assault pyramid, something I had heard about as a way to depict the many levels of sexual assault from street harassment like cat calling right up to various forms of rape.
I went looking, thinking that the Rape Culture Pyramid was a universal concept. As idiotic as this sounds, I was thinking it was like the food pyramid or something. A concept that was used by many organizations to explain this normalization idea. I did an image search, and found this image:
I thought to myself, “Yes, that’s perfect. I’ll use that.” And I promptly created a black and white version of the art and titled it the Sexual Assault Pyramid. I did not click through to look at their website. Had I done that, I would have understood two things: 1) This artwork is copyrighted. 2) That for profit use required contacting them and paying for the right.
Instead, I made my version for my book and credited the source as “unknown.” In an indefensible fail, I continued to imagine it some sort of universal graphic and so I did not credit 11th Principle: Consent! On top of that, I changed the title as well.
Months later, I posted my version of the graphic as part of a Twitter thread that quoted from that chapter of my book. People in the thread pointed me to 11th Principle: Consent! and I posted additional tweets in the thread, stating my thanks for helping me understand that my art was derived from something that was exclusively created by 11th Principle Consent! I posted their art and noted it was the proper version of the pyramid.
(At 11th Principle: Consent!’s request, I have since deleted the original tweet which included my version of their design. I did this at their request because it had over a thousand retweets all of which we’re sharing my flawed version of the pyramid.)
But after learning what I learned, did I pick up the phone and call them? No, I did not. I made a note to credit them in my book revisions list and went on with other work, STILL not realizing that the Rape Culture Pyramid was COPYRIGHTED or that it required PAYMENT to them for use in a for profit publication.
Am I just stupid? Why was I not paying attention to this? Is it some male privilege blindness that kept me focused on other work and challenges instead of admitting my mistake and paying much closer attention to my error following my tweet? I honestly don’t know how to explain my failure to immediately reach out to 11th Principle: Consent! but I failed to do so.
Recently they contacted me, noting that the artwork I generated is clearly based on their copyrighted work. At this point, I can only imagine the consternation and frustration this entire episode has created for them.
We exchanged emails about this issue and they shared a set of steps they felt would help address this situation. One part of addressing it is the publication of this article.
For the record, my mistake is indefensible and I sincerely apologize for:
1) Failing to carefully research the source of the work originally.
2) Failing to contact 11th Principle: Consent! after the tweet stream made the source clear to me.
I have removed my version of the art from my book and instead, included a paragraph inviting readers to go to 11th Principle: Consent! website to see the Rape Culture Pyramid and all the other work they are doing.
Additionally, I have undertaken an effort to share 11th Principle: Consent!’s work in my social media community and will continue to do so.
If you are not following Jaime Chandra on Twitter, I hope you will.
Other efforts regarding making this right are ongoing.
I don’t have a pithy ending for this article. I am sorry to say, I frustrated and hurt people I have never met. All I can do now is to take ownership of my thoughtless mistake and to keep trying to make things right, however long that takes.