It has apparently been around a few years, but I was just made aware of A Note From Gary Larson (via Reddit). In the note, he makes a personal appeal to all fans of The Far Side who have published copies of his cartoons on their web sites. Referring to his creations as his children, he makes an impassioned plea to all enthusiasts to remove said cartoons from the internet and allow his “kids” to return home. He makes it clear that he would rather communicate his desires himself rather than through a lawyer.
Okay, I get that Mr. Larson has an interest in protecting his work for what he claims are intangible and somewhat emotional reasons. And if that is truly his motivation, and not just concern for the impact to revenues, then this letter is probably as good a way as any to address the issue. But he is still attempting to manipulate his audience through guilt and this is the same tactic used by the RIAA and MPAA when they accuse so-called “pirates” of robbing creators of their rightful earnings. The fact is there is nothing to feel guilty about.
I cannot help but think that Mr. Larson’s is the last generation still clinging to these outmoded ways of thinking about digital media. As his career has spanned both sides of this digital revolution, this is understandable to some extent. But the truth is undeniable — the internet has changed the rules of the game — and while I applaud his honey-instead-of-vinegar approach, he (and everyone else like him) must eventually come to terms with this new reality. Copyright law is unenforceable. Intellectual property as we know it is dead. I regret to inform you, Mr. Larson, your children will not be coming home.