Copyright infringement. I’ve been infringed

This is not the post I had planned for today. I was going to share a pretty little fabric bracelet that I had made for a friend, but instead I share my frustrations.

I’m sorry to rant here in my happy place, but 2 weeks ago I found out that someone on eBay was using images of my art on their pocket mirrors and selling them. Lots of them. After filling out paper work and faxing it in, eBay eventually removed the listing.  That was that. Nothing else was done. I let it go.

Today, I found another seller on Etsy, using the same image (the one above) and using it on their light switch plates. I found this, because I am currently making Day of the Dead light stitch plates for an upcoming show and was curious to see what was out there already.  I do this often, to see what others are doing (want to keep mine unique) and to stay competitive in price.

What I found was my own art being used and sold, again!!  This is so frustrating on so many levels.  Seeing someone successfully sell your art is so upsetting that I am without words to even really explain how I feel.  Frustrated, hurt, mad, furious, enraged doesn’t even come close to how I’m feeling.

So, I’ve written to the seller and to Etsy (waiting to hear back) and have read up on my rights.  Because I can not afford an attorney at this time, all I can do is hope that these people will do the right thing and stop using my art.

See, here is the thing. I am unsure if these people even know they are doing something wrong. In my research, it looks as though many people (businesses) are just randomly uploading any image they want off the internet and using it for their own products (mirrors, light switch plates, jewelry and more) not realizing that these images belong to someone–A REAL PERSON.  It’s actually not a free-for-all.  So, this is where I need your help.

We need to help educate people. Teach them.  People who steal, are going to steal no matter what, but people who don’t know need to learn. I found a great post about copyright infringement here and you can learn more about other licenses, like creative commons here.

I don’t want you to think I am a crazy person in regards to my work. I still love sharing what I do. So just to set the record straight, it is okay to:

  • Link to me.  I don’t even really mind if you use one of my images as long as I am given credit and linked to properly.
  • Pin me.  Please, anytime.  Just make sure the link goes back to me and the actual post of the image.
  • Use my tutorials, free art or patterns. But, these are for personal use only. They are not for commercial use and should not be used for teaching purposes if you are charging or getting paid.  Doing a non-profit gig or raising money for your school? Send me an email and we can chat.

I know this kind of comes with the territory, but I still need to continue working hard to protect my hard work. I love what I do, I pour my heart and soul into it and I want to give as much as I can, but I also need to make a living.  There is so much confusion in these matters and I know that everyone “borrows” a little to get to their own style and become their own artist, but if it is not yours, not your idea, if it is not free stock, royalty free or in the public domain then you can’t use it, especially for monetary purposes.

nuff said, thanks so much for listening.

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31 Responses to Copyright infringement. I’ve been infringed

  1. Yanik says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear about your copyright troubles. I hope they get resolved quickly and painlessly. Sending bright beams of positive thoughts and energy to you. Have a nice wekend.

  2. deb taylor says:

    I support you one thousand percent and will now go shout it out.
    ~Shame on them…~

  3. So sorry, Regina… I think you are being very patient with the whole “teach them” thing… so hard not to boil about it when I hear they’re actually printing products with others’ art. I mean, I actually think you’re right, but I also don’t get it. I don’t get how it doesn’t occur to them that a real person made that art. ?

    Anyway, all the blessings and peace in the world are being sent your way. (((Keep up all the wonderful work, friend.)))

  4. Yuck, yuck, and triple yuck. So sorry this happened to you! Some people need their computer rights revoked. Big hugs to you!

  5. Melbee says:

    I am really sorry this has happened…. Big bad hairy negative karma bugs to the thieves! I hope that it is resolved quickly and in a satisfactory way for you… Much love and peace to you honey xx

  6. sperlygirl says:

    so sorry this has happened, regina. i am always curious how you discover you have been copied or your work used elsewhere? hope things all get resolved peacefully. don’t let this stop you, you are putting goodness out into the world, my friend. xx

  7. spindelmaker says:

    I totally agree with you, Regina! And I am so sorry this has happened to you. I do hope they do the decent thing, and either stop selling the product, or give you a good cut of the profit.
    Maybe you should do a copyright Regina-sign watermark on everything you post on your blog. That might help keeping things yours, and at the same time, help people find you, when randomly finding your art in a Google-search, for instance. It´s actually helped bring business my way, people searching for certain images, and then finding me. All the best to you, my friend! Lots of love, Janne

  8. kt says:

    wow regina
    I am so sorry to hear this!! I was just talking about this with a local esty seller, wow! let me know what i can do. my little sister’s husband is a patent lawyer if you need me to ask him anything just let me know, he might know something about your rights etc..
    I have been thinking more and more about watermarking my images they are just floating out there on the net. jeez I am so upset right now that people are selling your artwork without your permission:( hang in there and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    • Thanks Katy. I will definitely call if I need help, but I’m going to focus on protecting my future stuff and hope that this doesn’t happen again. I hate the whole watermark thing too. I find it a little distracting. But, gotta do whatcha gotta do. Hugs my friend.

  9. Michelle says:

    I came over to tell you what a beautiful surprise I got in the mail yesterday, after a particularly difficult two weeks, but saw this upsetting news, instead! I’m so sorry, and outraged. My husband isn’t a copyright attorney, but his good friend is, and if want to write to me with more details, I’ll see if he can talk to you for a bit. I don’t think you want to go the legal route, though, so I’m hoping you’re able to resolve this in a way that makes you happy and feel at peace with the situation.

    I love my print, and it really lifted me up. Thank you, thank you, I wish you lived next door. XOXO

  10. If you put your image online it is very hard to prevent this stealing. In fabric design school we had it drummed into us to NEVER put images online we did not want to have stolen..and also never even leave our portfolio at some perspective clients office..not even for 30 minutes, because copying and “knock offs” are so rampant in that industry…and the net has made this even worse. Sorry this happened to you–but if you want to keep your stuff from being stolen don’t put it online—or use a very low res image, or watermark them. I suspect most people who appropriate other’s artwork know what they are doing…

    • I wouldn’t have much of an online business if I didn’t put my stuff online. Like I said, this is part of the territory of being an artist online, but that doesn’t make it right or acceptable. My art images are all watermarked, small and low res. Sadly, the people stealing it are using crappy images of my work on small things like pocket mirrors. Thanks for the input.

  11. My thought is : how could a person not know that it is wrong to take an image from a place (like the Internet) and use it for themselves? Regina, how understandably upsetting!

    Yes, people need to be educated, and artists like Regina need to keep a watchful eye.

    Everyone is taught about plagiarism in school! Shame on the shameless.

    Lesson to us all: put your name on your work whenever possible

  12. Kunvay says:

    We’re so sorry this happened to you. We’re trying to do our best to help educate creatives and consumers of creative work about these exact issues so copyright infringement is something people think twice about engaging in. We applaud that you love to share your work and hope the fear of copyright infringement doesn’t lead to the end of sharing.

  13. Carin says:

    Regina, that sucks big time! I’m so sorry you have had that happen to you. Now thinking I should probably start watermarking my stuff too.

  14. Tammy says:

    Oh! How frustrating and awful. You are such a bright and positive person Regina. You are so inspiring in how you are dealing with this…I wish I could bring over a delish cup of chai and a hug!!Love you so much friend! praying that this matter is resolved in your favor in a bigger better way than you could dream! xoxox From those of us who visit your blog daily, thanks so much for sharing, you make my day brighter b/c of your blog and sweet wonderful; heart! :o)( Your paper bag journals are so cool! )

  15. Regina – You’re dealing with this horrible situation in the best way possible, and I hope everything turns out to your benefit. I’m watermarking some of my images, but wondering if I need to do that on my artist website as well? Not sure what gallery owners would think about them. But best of luck to you.

    I also looked at some of your linked blog posts about doing the craft fairs. You have such a great aesthetic – I could see you getting a licensing deal and then your work would be all over the place!

  16. OH My That totally sucks Regina! I am so sorry that happened to you! I just read that the same thing happened to Juliette Crane!! I guess the watermark thing is the way to go. Ugh….

  17. that really sucks Regina, sorry to hear that. I’m happy to get the word out. Do you mind if i reblog this with your permission and linkbacks within my own worded blog post? I’d love to share your story.

  18. Sharyn says:

    Sorry to read about your work being copyright infringed Regina. I hope etsy deal with the seller appropriately. I’ve read about other artists being copied – some have even had their work emblazoned on high street store t shirts and even copied on stationery. I wish the copyright laws were a lot tougher. It’s completely obvious to me when someone copyright watermarks their work but obviously this is lost on those of a lower intellect, they have the double whammy of being thieves as well. I have a very small following on Facebook but I would like to share your post.

  19. elsa says:

    Oh double darn ~ I’ve heard of this happening a lot lately (and it’s happened to me too ~ a jewelry design I came up with, people were copying it and saying it was their idea). Incredibly frustrating, to say the least.
    Glad to hear that you’re dealing with it tho ~ Etsy and Ebay need to regulate these things and take care of them quickly!

  20. Alisa says:

    You know, this happened to one of my good friends in the UK. I ranted about it on my blog last week! Unbelieveable. Having your art work stolen is akin to being violated on so many levels. I am so sorry this also has happened to you. But you are taking the right steps and alerting eBay and Etsy about it. I firmly believe we as artists of all kinds need to rally together when a fellow artist is violated to let the violator know we’re on to them and that it’s WRONG TO STEAL. I hope this posting finds you feeling a little bit better?

  21. Galena Whitmore says:

    What a mess! Some people just don’t know any better. When they know better, the only consequence is that they have to stop. No punishment.

    My work is infringed on Pinterest a lot. I spent 2 months sending copyright notices to Pinterest every day from morning until night. Why? Because contrary to what you’d expect, Pinterest was sucking traffic away from my website.

    People go around the nopin metatag so now I am resorting, as an act of despair, to legal means. I am demanding financial compensation from pinners for their copyright infringement, and after legal fees, am I making some modest profit that make the whole ordeal marginally worth it.

    I suggest you register your work with the copyright office if you haven’t. Registered works are easier to pursue legally, because you don’t have to prove that you lost money, which is often difficult. With registered work, the infringer has to pay your legal fees.

  22. Becky Z says:

    I’m know I’m tardy to the party on this post but since I’m really getting to know your work I will keep a look out. Here I felt bad bring up the art of your I saw. I’m glad I brought it up to you. I was SOooo happy to see it until I thought….maybe they didn’t ask. BUT I’ll keep a look out. There’s an artist I liked named David Delamare and this pasted week I saw a few of his images on things at ETSY. Makes me wonder if he gave his permission. Mind you him seems like he’d have the means to sue. Anyways I’ll keep a look out. I’m always scoping out Day of the Dead stuff.

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