I’m a little late in getting around to writing about this, but I wanted to point out that Buzzfeed published my comic for CNN in full last week, only taking it down when I told them they would need to pay me for it. Poynter wrote about it:
Bors billed BuzzFeed for the unauthorized use, which BuzzFeed Editorial Director Jack Shepherd told Poynter in an phone call the site took down as soon as they learned about it. (BuzzFeed spokesperson Ashley McCollum told Poynter in an email that BuzzFeed will not pay Bors' bill.)
Unfortunately, I wasn’t contacted for comment on this piece, but it does go on to look at Buzzfeed’s so-called “community editors.” While that may sound like a job title, it’s anything but. These volunteer editors help build the Buzzfeed empire with content they scrape from the web or create themselves. Who wants or has time to contribute to a site that has raised tens of millions in funding but can’t bother to pay them, I don’t know.
Buzzfeed’s editors have explained this system to me, something they have told me is “a key part of our philosophy of sharing ideas rather than a business model,” and that the comic was taken down once I brought it to their attention. Except I gave them no takedown notice, only an invoice. And the fact that they have free contributors publishing things without supervision sounds more like their problem than mine. After all, ads run on the pages the community editors publish on. Sounds more like a business model than a bold idea-sharing philosophy, but what do I know–I work for a living.
You’ll notice other media outlets don’t have this problem. The Washington Post isn’t accidentally publishing my comics. Fortune magazine didn’t mistakenly publish an article from CNN in the latest issue.
There’s a cruel irony for the content creator here. Notice your work was stolen and Buzzfeed will take it down. Never notice and it will remain on the site contributing to the key part of their grand philosophy. Where does that leave me? I’m not as convinced as they are that they’re off the hook here, and let it be known to them that my invoice still stands. They’ve stopped answering my emails.
So Buzzfeed won’t pay me. Your Reaction? LOL • Win • OMG • Cute • WTF • Fail • React With A GIF!