Aug 20, 2009

Copycats out there!

Hate to bring it up again - actually, let me reword that. I hate that I have a reason to bring it up again, but . . . please help get the word out and educate our art friends that . . .


It didn't happen to me this time (as far as I know). Someone who I admire very much, happens to be in my blog links and is probably known by you, has just discovered someone has copied a piece she altered in minute detail and then claimed the work herself. Probably didn't think anyone would notice, but they did. And once again it seems the copycat work is in a swap with other people many of us know which makes it even more infuriating and bewildering. I know how very upsetting that is. It results in a big jumbled ball of emotions ranging from anger, astonishment, anger, hurt, shock, betrayal by a fellow "artist" and feeling violated. I don't know the details nor would I share them as that is not my place to do, but I do want to remind everyone that this is getting to be a big problem and it won't go away until we all speak up and make it clear.

Here's another reason to take this seriously . . . Because in this case and in my recent experience, an image was stolen from not just the artist but the original image seller. If we look the other way when people "borrow" from our work and the images we purchase from folks like Teesha Moore or Lisa's Altered Art or any other image seller, the image seller is losing their income too and may just quit selling images for any of us to use.

Here are things to help prevent theft of your work.
  • I am adding watermarks to my Etsy listings.
  • Change your flickr settings so that you disable the "all sizes" and so that only YOU can download your work, and link any images you post on your blog back to your blog.
  • I also make my images not searchable outside of flickr - another setting you can adjust - it prevents my work from popping up in a yahoo or google image search. These things prevent anyone from clicking for the nice big version of your work.
  • Put a copyright notice under everything you publish everywhere you publish it.
  • Until ning networks provide good "spaceball" (what flickr uses to protect your work from downloading) for those that attempt to download, I'm thinking about taking all of my work out of ning networks until I get it watermarked.
  • Regularly search Etsy and flickr and yahoo images for work - like I might search for "fairy collage" so I can see if anyone has copied me.

You can get blog bumper stickers from our flickr group Stop Art Piracy Campaign Project. You can use them on your blog as a reminder and warning.

Now, don't panic about your own artwork. I do at moments and then realize, karma stinks for some. People that do bad things almost always eventually get caught. There is always a way for determined thieves to figure out a way to steal, but the more hoops you make them jump through the less tempting it is. The more they know we are concerned and watching, the less likely some will be willing to try. So, if you're concerned, follow the suggestions above and move on to making your wonderful art and let karma take care of the rest.


Sleepandhersisters said...

I am so sorry that this has happened to you again!!! I am shocked and saddened by this.


Tumble Fish Studio said...

No, it didn't happen to me this time - it happened to one of my friends. I'm sorry too!

Aimeslee Winans said...

Great post, Marsha, but it's time we need to start outing. Otherwise, they will keep on doing it until their name is involved. Samantha Beeston is the culprit here. And her award has been revoked, although they only released a tiny little press release that is nowhere on their site. Luckily, the online world is taking care of it. Google her name and you will see. Thank you for the great advice and sorry I'm on my soapbox about outing these thieves, but if it was a real store and the thief had stolen tangible art pieces, they would be outed in charges filed and police after them. xoxo

Janine said...

That is really sad.
You wrote down some very good and usefull methods to protect ones artwork.
Thank you very much

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Hey Aimeslee - actually the person you mentioned is not the culprit in this case, though I know what you are referring to. Here is a link to that story

In my opinion, "outing" without other attempts to rectify the situation, is not always the best case, depending on the situation of course. In the story above and about the person you mentioned, absolutely! In these blog and flickr cases, it often involves friends of other people we know in blog and flickr world so the lines get blurry, drama ensues, and sides are chosen. It is a tough spot to be in. How would you feel if I told you you were friends with the person that stole the art? You're not as far as I know, but what if you were? It's tricky business.

sharon said...

Wow, I am sorry for the originator, and all who have had this happen, it is sickening. In the jewelry world, I have always hesitated to post copyright info on my blog, because I have seen cases where people claim a certain bead is their favorite, therefore "theirs" wrong, and so many subtle interpretations, but flat artwork.....I guess I should not be so naive, I like to trust too much. You have taught me a wealth of information Marsha , and I'm sure I will seek advice on how to handle this sort of thing. Since starting to work in this medium, it has crossed my mind.

Cathy Spivey Mendola said...

OMG! What will it take for folks to realize that they are stealing!!!
I guess they think they are just borrowing and if they make it their "own" by putting their name on it, that it's OK, Well it's NOT!
Thanks for all the helpful hints for minimizing the possibility of theft.

Terri Kahrs said...

I'm so sorry to hear that someone's work was taken yet again. Stealing from an artist is like taking a piece of their soul. So very, very sad.

Thanks for the great tips, Marsha. It's unfortunate. Soon we'll be watermarking EVERYTHING or not posting work at all. So very, very sad indeed. Hugs, Terri xoxo

Michele said...

Oh man this is awful! I can't believe people would do such a thing, especially a fellow artist. It really makes you think.

btw how do you watermark your art? I think that might be a good idea.

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Hi Michele! I made my watermark in Microsoft publisher and added it to my pictures and saved them from there. I created it as a "word art" so that I could adjust the transparency in formatting it. When it was how I liked it, I put it over the picture of my work, grouped them together and saved that as a separate picture. Microsoft Publisher is my desktop so to speak - I use it to lay things out, print from, etc. I'm sure if you googled "adding a watermark on your artwork" you would get much better ways to do it than how I did it.

Michele said...

Thanks Marsha, that is great information! I'll look into doing that. I never really thought I'd need it, but lately who knows...

Veronica said...

Sigh, its sad to hear its happened again, although I know this kind of thing goes on all the time.

Another thing you can do is resize your images small before you upload them to any website. I always reduce the resolution to 72pixels per inch (which is the resolution of computer screens anyway) and I also shrink the dimensions to about 15cm wide or less.

Its a fine line isnt it? Do you risk putting your work out there knowing someone, sooner or later, will copy it, OR do you risk not putting your work out there and miss out on all the feedback, inspiration, etc.

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Hi Veronica - some of us are doing this for a living so we can't not put our work out there and we can't not put it out there in good quality or it won't sell. So, yes, it's a tough spot, but I do believe there are some things you can do to protect yourself within reason and I do still believe that 99% of folks are honest and won't steal.

Unknown said...

Marsha I back you up 120% I to have hated to post icky things too but it must be done. I am soooo sorry that these things are happening . I learned a long time ago that it is a VERY small world and the internet makes it extra small. Know the every action has a reaction !! karma is a true thing !!!!

landofnodstudios said...

Marsha, I'm so glad you touched on this subject, it is time we take a stand and protect our hard work from those who are content with just borrowing from others.

I have been faced with this myself but since it isn't an out and out copyright violation ( this is with my soldered pendants, the person is just giving my style a go, I have never seen anything like my work out there and I have looked, not saying I'm the first I just haven't found any like mine.) Unfortunately there is nothing I can do but fume internally. Since you can't copyright a style or a design I'm out of luck but that doesn't stop those feeling of being ripped off. I just hate when someone says they have come up with a new design and well lets say it looks alot like mine.

I would go totally ballistic if someone actually stole my images, I guess I'm still naive enough to think no one would want them and have done nothing to protect that from happening. Thanks for the eye opener I think I will head back into my sites and make some changes.

Hugs Deborah Land Of Nod Studio's