Social Media (lead by Twitter) recently went ablaze following the release of a video of South Africa's globally renowned DJ Black Coffee slapping South African rapper AKA's manager. While the video went viral, its owner also dished out some virtual slaps in a different ring at two competitor media houses which shared the video without crediting them.
What got me interested in the story was that not only did one of the media houses not credit the source, they also removed all traces of the source (tags/logos) from the video. This amounts to stealing and goes against one of the most important ethics code followed by bloggers, vloggers, curators, etc : Prominently credit the original source.
Having spent some time doing Content Production myself, I've noticed quite a number of these cases involving Africans. Our continent has a history of having our art stolen and often reproduced without any credit given to its creators. Should we even be discussing why we shouldn't steal from each other? I might be exaggerating by classifying the work we share on social media in the same category as African art, but do we really need to preach ethics in content sharing between African digital media startups?
I can understand why people would complain about Zkhiphani.com's watermark. I didn't see this in their videos, but I've seen how intrusive their watermark can be on their pictures. I see nothing wrong with the placement of their logo or tag in the corners of their videos, however their watermarks on pictures often run across the main subject and have prominence.
I think we should apply our watermarks without being obtrusive - plastering the watermark right in the middle of the video. Obtrusive watermarks can affect the rate at which our content is shared. Some people don't like to share content that may seem to have too much advertising.
Some of the world's decorated photographers don't use watermarks, while the style and quality of their work identifies them. If we're failing to make our watermarks non-intrusive, we may need to explore other creative ways of identifying ourselves. As we've seen with yomzansi, our watermarks can be completely edited out anyway.
This watermark discussion entertains this idea of stealing. Just credit the source man!
Benefits of crediting the source
Crediting the source is flattering. Often, the content owner will retweet the tweet containing their credit. At the time of publishing, Zkhiphani.com had 63K Twitter followers while yomzansi had 33.1K. The opportunity of yomzansi reaching new followers from Zkiphani.com far outweighs the amount of work required to edit and share the content as their own.
I'm not sure if there was any beef between the 2 startups prior to this incident, but the crediting/flattering can also lead to building relationships and collaborations in the same industry. Compared to other continents we have far less consumers of our digital media. It gets worse when our content is focused on pop culture and entertainment for a specific African country. Being ethical, collaborating and sharing our networks in the African context can be more beneficial than the dirty games that come with cutthroat competition.
Sharing may be caring, but sharing something that doesn't belong to you without attribution is stealing.
*Just credit the source man!