Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stamp Out Theft NOW

I don't know what it is-have we jusr become so greedy and unfeeling that it's OK to steal from each other and Robin Hood our way thru life?

Most stamp artists, like myself. are low income sometimes retired people who are in the stamp or digi business to make enough extra money a month to make sure the bills are paid.

I give away a great deal of merchandies every month either in sponsorships, freebies or charity-somehow there are some folks that think because they won an image or got it without paying for it that image has no worth and they can do whatever they want with it.

The copyright on an artists work is their signature-this has been fought and won in the courts ofthe United States and in many international courts as well.

While I might be unlikely to pursue litigation against another person who somehow misused my images I have every right to tell them to stop-it doesnt make me a bad person.

I have had to go after companies in my career who just appropraited and adapted a design thinking I would never see it and they would mak some money off the image-because they traced and slightly changed the design they thought they now owned it.

A couple calls to their lawyers let them know I was serious about protecting my interests and they cease to sell the item-at least in California-and I don't have the money to chase them across the United States.

If you look in my blog archives at the 2009 posting from Sept 13 I tell a great deal about licensing your artwork-I made a fair amount of money by contractually agreeing to allow companies to use my artwork for a percentage of the sale price.

In that case you are protected by TWO copyrights-the one on your art and the one on the licensed product-much more clout and usually a corporate lawyer because the company wants to protect themselves and you (especially if you are making them money).

I learned a great deal about contracts during this period and have always insisted on a contract when ever I have negotiated to allow someone to use my artwork-especially as a pattern (as in tole painting) or stamp (as in rubber stamps).

It's important for artists to know about business, contracts and how art can be lost under the "work for hire" rules that do NOT protect artists.

I won't go deeply into this subject there is a great deal of information on the internet-if you're interested you can read for days and learn a great deal.

My experiance has been that people in the crafts industry are nicer to each other than in many other businesses and they work to protect each other-when I decided to do my Creepmas Blig hop this year I contacted Terra at Smeared and Smudged so she would know what I was planning and how it might affect her (since we do share some design team members).

I could have predicted her reaction-she was very supportive and we discussed how we could cross advertise and benefit each other.

In everyday life I sponsor her blog events and SNS sponsors my challenge blog-its a friendly mutually beneficil relationship-why would i endanger that by lifting images from her or her artists and selling them?

Simply put I would not-it's beyond me and not my style-I am very prolific, work in several styles and have lots of ideas-while I might appreciate a design from another company I would not conciously copy it or in some way compromise myself by adapting it for my purposes-I have told younger artists for years "Do NOT chase the market" find what you do best and capitolize on that not on what you THINK people want.

Over the years we always knew what popular artist was doing well because everyone starts copying their style-It happened with Nagel and many others and continues to this day.

Emulating is one thing but actually taking art from an artist in any form and reusing, swapping, selling or otherwise abusing the intentions of that art is simply stealing.

I was horrified when I found out that people actually bought rubber stamps and scanned the impressions and turned them into digis-moreover they then swapped, traded and even sold those images as if they owned the rights to do so. NOTE: I am specifically referring here to those who stamp a black impression on white card stock-scan it and then sell that scan as a digi stamp-There is nothing wrong with digitally colouring an image and then using it within your own projects or selling a card that you have made that includes such an image-IT IS however wrong to colour images, make them into decoupage sheets and sell the sheets unless you have explicit permission from the owner of the images. My angel policies are pretty clear on what a designer can and cannot do with my images-using them in their projects is fine making tghem into mass produced T-shirts to sell at the swp meet is not.

On the Stamp out sight-there is a link from their badge above on the left you can see examples of companies that are allegedly selling stolen stamps or which have adapted portions of designs for their use as if no one would recognize what they had done.

It's very important to also understand (whether you agree with it or not) your legal rights to how you can use an image you have purchased (or recieved as a freebie or prize)-You own the right to use the image as the artist has dictated-I have been really impressed with how many designers have convoed me when they were concerned about not overstepping those rights and privledges.

On the other hand I have actually heard a papercrafter say "They can write down whatever they want to I will do as I want-I paid for it"...you paid for the right to use the image not for the image itsself-if you buy a psotcard of a picasso don't expect the actual painting to come with it.

The subject has become clouded because of public domain, clip art and other types of free art that you buy a license to use when you join a webite or purchase a program-much of that art comes from huge design house that crank it out of their art departments and have been doing so for decades-some clip art has been around for over 100 years and is still being sold despite the fact that the image is in public domain.

Digi stamps are sometimes made from Clip Art-I think thats a little fringy but I myself filled in digi sheets with public domain images-not for the profit they brought me but because the sheet looked better with some decorative images-I always priced my sheets based on the number of MY digis that were on them (ignoring the fill).
AND when asked I always gave a truthful answer and directed the person to where they could get the clip art without buying my digi sheet.

I could ramble on for another few thousand words but I think you get my drift-don't do it, don't participate in doing it and don't look the other way when you see others doing it...it hurts all of us,,,nor only in the wallet and YES a couple bucks are important to me-I have been an artist most of my life and while I have had a nice career it makes for very little income when it comes to social security-it hurts us when our society erodes a little more each day, we get a little ruder and a little more stressed, money is tight and its easy to want things we can't afford...it isn't worth it and we need to remember that wrong is wrong-shades of grey aside (not the book).

This isn't preaching its ranting-as I said I have been pretty lucky and have always defended myself but there are many who are hesitant or just won't stand up for their rights and its all those folks we must also watch out for.

I am a big believer in "what goes around comes around" and "do unto others..."
My Mother raised me right and I would never want her to be ashamed of me.


  1. I think it's good to flag these sellers, it lacks respect and it's theft to do like this! I fully support the artists, you do a marvellous job!!

  2. Well said Rick, will put the Stamp Out button on my bloggie

  3. So many people just don't know what shame is. They just using good Artists work, by making money to theirs own packet by steeling.
    Very well done on this post, i hope many people will read.
    Hugs Nat

  4. I know exactly what you mean. I do create some images myself as well, but don't sell them. I either use them for my personal use or use them as prizes or freebies. It is however just good manners to credit the person who created the image and not to share things (unless you have been given permission to do so).

    This is a problem that has been around for a good number of years now and although everyone does continue to say things about it, it is unlikely we can ever fully stamp it out (except perhaps naming and shaming those who do). But we can certainly try!


  5. I have only recently discovered your images and I have to commend you on your fabulous work . I am on a DT and have used your fabulous images or my cards . I fully support what you are saying and applaud you for your honesty hugs Elaine


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