In light of the recent controversy involving Aaron Carter and artist Jonas Jödicke I wanted to say a few things about Artists and Copyright Infringement.
It’s one of the biggest problems we have to deal with as artists.
It is a constant battle of artists vs. people (and even bots nowadays), and sometimes even big companies, who steal our artworks and profit off of them while we get nothing for our work.
Scouring the net for our stolen art takes time away from creating or working on other aspects of our business, thus taking even more money away from our small businesses.
I’ve experienced this first hand many times. At first it is really upsetting, but after awhile you get used it. We artists grow a thick skin to deal with things like this and by putting ourselves and our work into the world.
For example: It was really disheartening to see a copy of one of my designs on page 2 of Amazon Germany when searching for Popsockets. I can see that my design can be a best seller, but no one has even purchased that design from my own Amazon store. Why? Because the thieves are able to sell it for a cheaper price.
And yes, I did get it taken down but I know it will pop up again under a different seller.
Alibaba group (Aliexpress, Lazada etc.) is another really bad one for Copyright infringement. They are huge in Asia and have duplicate sites in many different countries. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the rip offs on their various websites.
A lot of people don’t realize that stealing art online is wrong.
I am not sure why this is. You wouldn’t take someone’s novel and slap your name on it and then sell it for profit would you? (I’m sure it happens though).
One argument is that if you put it online it’s fair game. This is actually not true. Legally, we artists do have the rights to our images (intellectual property rights), but the problem is we can’t spend our entire day searching for these copycats. We also can’t afford lawyers to go to battle for us.
I do Google searches or reverse image searches and issue take down notices all the time. But it’s often difficult and we are made to jump through hoops, or create accounts thus giving these already untrustworthy organizations our personal information. Or sometimes it’s on some random website with no contact information available.
So what can we do about the issue of Copyright Infringement?
As artists we have to be vigilant and stand up for ourselves and each other.
Contact the artist if we recognize a stolen design of theirs, or report it for them if possible. There is a great Facebook group called Who Stole My Images? where you can post infringing websites and ask for advice.
As consumers we need to stand up for artists by not buying products with stolen artwork. They might be cheaper, but are poor quality and the artist who spent hours and maybe days on their work gets nothing from the purchase.
For the most part, I am a pretty positive person and don’t let things like this get to me very often, but I am feeling frustrated and no longer want to keep my mouth shut on this issue.
I hope you feel the same.
Let me know about your experiences with copyright infringement, and how you dealt with it, by leaving a comment below. I’d love it if we can all help each other win this battle.