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Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "Across Three Continents: A Tale of Tumblr, Copyright, and Excellent Posters." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 29 January 2013,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2013)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2013, January 29). Across Three Continents: A Tale of Tumblr, Copyright, and Excellent Posters [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2013)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "Across Three Continents: A Tale of Tumblr, Copyright, and Excellent Posters.", January 29, 2013, YouTube, 03:56,
Preorder a (signed!) copy of the tri-continental poster that inspired this video: In doing so, you'll support beautiful nerdfighters bringing beautiful things into the world.

In which John discusses intellectual property, the complexity of protecting it, and the total insufficiency of current copyright law. The failure of copyright law has led to a kind of Wild West mentality here on the Internet, particularly on tumblr, where strange and complex collaborations happen every day. John happened across one such collaboration, fell in love with it, and then spent weeks trying to untangle the business of who, exactly, should own what.

Nica (the original artist) has a tumblr:
So does Ashild (who adapted Nica's art into a poster):
So do I:
"Good Morning, Hank. It's Tuesday!"
Sorry, I needed him for white balancing. So Hank, I really liked your video a couple weeks ago about the ownership of ideas and I agree with you that current copyright law is a hot slice of crazy.

But Hank, people and ideas need some kind of copyright protection because otherwise, like, CBS could come along and take all the Vlogbrothers videos and just put them on their network and call the show Two Brothers Slowly Age.

And I would hate that because
1. My face was not designed for like 42 inch HD televisions and
2. CBS would make all of this money and I would get nothing!

OK, for example Hank, let's say you design this.
Generally, what happens is that if I want to make a t-shirt out of that design, I buy the design from you. Let's say I pay $100.
So I buy the design and now I own it, I make a t-shirt and if the t-shirt is a failure, you have your $100 and if it is a wild success that generates millions of t-shirts, you have your $100.

This has always struck me as unfair because yes, I made the t-shirt and distributed it and whatnot, but it's still your design so you should still kind of own it. And this is why DFTBA Records is now focused on royalties for Nerdfighter designers. Like every time you buy a Pizza John shirt, I split the royalties with Valerie2776 who designed it. It's her design, but it's my face and moustache so...we go halfsies.

That's relatively simple. This is very complicated.

So Hank, a few weeks ago I'm scrolling through the TFIOS tag on Tumblr (as I do) and I come across this and I am like "That is a fantastic poster and I want it to be on my wall!"
So I reblogged it and then I sent the Tumblr user an ask saying like "We should do this on DFTBA Records! It'll be so fun!" and then she wrote me back and she was like "Yeah...I didn't design that and I don't know did."

So then I asked Tumblr "Does any one know who designed this?" and a 16 year old Filipino Nerdfighter named Nico wrote in and said "Yes, it was me!"
And I was like "Great, all of our problems are solved" and then Nico was like "Yeah, I made this painting and then someone made it into a poster."
And then I was like "OK, who is the someone?" and Nico was like "I have no idea."
So then for a couple of weeks, Nico and I were doing some like hardcore Sherlock style detective work on Tumblr and then finally we finally found the person who adapted the painting into a poster.
It was another 16 year old Nerdfighter, this one living in Norway named Ashild?... Ashild?

When I asked her how to pronounce her name, she said "Given your inability to pronounce the Swedish title of your book, I don't think you can do it." Which is just not fair, because I am just excellent at pronouncing "Förr Eller Senare EXPLODERAR Jag!"
God, I love this cover.

I'm just going to let Google Translate do it... right, so she made the poster.
So Hank, to summarize, I'd wrote a book in the United States which inspired a reader of mine in the Philippines to make a painting which in turn inspired another reader of mine in Norway to make a poster.

Hank, international copyright law just isn't ready for that kind of thing. Also, vitally, neither Nica nor myself gave permission to... I'm just going to call her Ashley. Neither of us gave permission to Ashley to make the poster but we both love the poster.

So, the three of us, on three separate continents, came to a royalty agreement, then we paid the guy who designed the font and NOW AT LAST it is a poster that is available for pre-order now at I will sign the first however many are pre-ordered.

Hank, we need better copyright law but in the meantime, we have to try to do well by each other and by each other's ideas. For me, that means welcoming and encouraging fan fiction and music or art inspired by my books.
But Hank, as you pointed out in your video, when money enters the picture, things change. Like I would be super annoyed if CBS made an adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars without my permission, but I am very happy when people, like, adapt scenes from the book in YouTube videos, even if those videos have ads on them.

And we really don't have a good way of defining the difference between Nerdfighters making something on YouTube and Viacom making something on CBS. Unless and until the mess of copyright get untangled and the laws get better, we're going to have to police ourselves but the good news is that the Internet is actually pretty good at that.

Hank, I think the most important things are that the Internet continues to be vigilant (which, don't worry, it will), that we try to be fair to each other and that we never let copyright law make us afraid to create, because that is the opposite of what it's supposed to do.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.