“Perhaps due to their quality and size, frame-grab GIFs have necessarily abstracted authorship. They are deployed in variable contexts, as reactions, illustrations, or expressions. Art GIFs, on the other hand, are circulated to be admired. Their authorship is also more consistently policed, as their authors demand credit for their work.”
- GIFABILITY by Giampaolo Bianconi
A good (if rather thick) read. The bit about authorship is interesting.
There’s nothing necessary about the lack of authorship in GIFs. Yes, there are technical restrictions to .gif file metadata and tumblr upload file size limitations but neither of these things trump the values we decide to champion in the culture itself. If it were that important, creators would just watermark more.
While there’s a strong sense of outrage among some creators, most gif makers that I come across aren’t upset when their work shows up somewhere they didn’t put it themselves.
This isn’t because they aren’t proud of their work or think that it shouldn’t be admired.
Instead, it reflects a decade of internet meme culture that values propagation over the traditional signs of credit like authorship.
The recognition isn’t in seeing your name on something. The recognition is in seeing your actual work spread.
This reminds me of that time I created one of the most well-known gifs of Rick Santorum. Hardly anyone ever credits me for it. Would it be nice if they did? Sure. Do I have any idea how to ensure that they do? Nope.
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