Working “for the exposure” – an Open Letter to Elon Musk.

Dear Mr. Musk:

Make no mistake about it – I’m a fan. You have done and continue to do amazing things with technology, which will benefit humanity in incalculable ways as things only continue to improve.

I’m putting “Unicorngate” down to a simple lack of awareness of what happens on the ground to virtually countless artists, writers, web designers, composers, photographers, playwrights, and so many others who depend on their sweat and blood and tears and creativity to make a living. Tom Edwards is one such, and intriguingly enough from all I’ve read, he remains a fan of your efforts.

Ask any creative soul – they’ve probably been asked to work for free. One of the best essays on the subject I’ve seen includes illustrations by Emmie Tsumura, who imagines the faces of people who want you to work “for exposure.” I recommend the piece.

tsumura1

Illustration by Emmie Tsumura

These people probably fall into one of two categories: Cheap bastards, and the totally unaware. Mr. Musk, I don’t know you from Adam’s off-ox, but you don’t strike me as falling into the first category. I suspect that what happened is that somewhere in your organization, someone who wasn’t even thinking about copyright violations thought Tom Edwards’ work would make a good bit of marketing fluff, and before you or anyone else at the top was aware, it had been incorporated at multiple levels.

The right thing to do would have been to compensate Mr. Edwards fairly for the privilege of continuing to use his work, or to apologize for the error, pull the illustration from your materials, compensate him fairly anyway, and move on.

Telling him that suing would be kind of lame, and intimating that the exposure was good for his business, is essentially being this guy:
tsumura2

Illustration by Emmie Tsumura

Don’t be that guy. Your company can afford to pay people fairly for their work. The optics of doubling down on an issue where you’re clearly taking the wrong position are terrible, and the world needs Tesla to look good.

That’s all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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