Saturday, June 17, 2006


When the Mailbox isn't diligently searching through news sites (or, in the case of the last month, hangin' out with killer ladies and TLP, the official fabulous girlfriend of the Mailbox), it enjoys watching Internet animations created by amateurs with a lot of talent. Albino Blacksheep, Weebl's Stuff, Homestar Runner, Too Much Spare Time and other sites are in the ol' Firefox bookmarks folder.

As we all know, stuff gets around on the Net. Remember that video of the chimp that scratches its butt, sniffs it then falls over? Hi-larious. Brought to us by the virus-like quality of these electronic typewriters and their high-speed connections to the one-zero world. Though the Internet provides instant worldwide exposure, it also presents the opportunity for theft.

A guy named Eric Bauman has ticked off a lot of animators by stealing animations and hosting them on his Web site, The proof comes from a clever animation by Alan Becker, that later showed up on without permission. ABS summarizes nicely why this is a problem.

The Mailbox's question: How is this different from the flap over mp3s and illegal downloads? Besides the obvious, of course: that Bauman is flat busted for stealing and making a profit from it.

Internet animators are now feeling the same theft of creativity as musicians. The only difference is that a major recording act is backed by a major label; many of these animators do it for the love, not the money. Others have ads on their sites to raise some revenue.

In the case of animators, a generally computer-savvy bunch, this may be a turnabout of fair play. It just took a jackhole like Bauman to show that maybe Lars Ulrich had a point: Creativity is a product that entertains us.

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