January 6, 2007.
Last night I went to a good friend's 40th Birthday party, and I danced and partied like it was 1989 - because there was some wicked 80's music for us to rock out to. Let's face it, I danced like an idiot, I am just glad there was no one video taping the event and yes I was sleepy, groggy and had soar feet this morning. Anyhoo, after checking email I was wide awake and without even my first cup of coffee. I woke up to not one but all kinds of interesting emails:
A Georgia Peach Can Make it All
It seems a very 'crafty' woman, based in Georgia had created a website and had tons of different products on her site. This woman had not only the gall to list wooden door hangers, ceramic plates, tiles, plaques, canvas reproductions, wooden waste baskets - she had it all. She claimed she could paint everything on the site - I mean wow what a "Jack...er, uh Jill of All Trades" she claimed to be. She claimed to make all of these designs on the site.
Under closer inspection you see she had pulled images from a large number of artisans and designers from the children's industry. She used our "images" our copyrighted images as um, samples, saying "Wilde Designs can Create or Design any designz you wish". She claimed they were all her designs. At a quick glance she had about ten or twelve other artists products that she could create for the customer....I think her exact wording was "we can copy any wall paper design", oh goody I will contact those wall paper companies, as I am sure they will be thrilled at that!
This would not be as big a deal had she just been trying to re-sell our designs. I have had channels take orders without our consent, or without us approving them to re-sell our products. Nice try, no really - maybe become a vendor of ours FIRST!
Rally The Troops
I sometimes claim that this industry I work in is interesting, I have met some real characters. I hope I do not offend anyone, but there is not a lot of testosterone around these parts.....catchin' my drift? Women makin', women sellin' and women buyin' - it is what it is!
I have had the good fortune of meeting some wonderful women, and made some fabulous friends. However, up until last November I only spoke with my re-sellers, never had I known other designers. This past year with the blog, with a certain email, and me sending out a few emails I am happy to say I know many, many "of my peeps" out there. It's nice, it's comforting, it's also a tad odd sometimes - I mean yes we are all competitors, but, 99% of the time I commend it, I seek it out, and I am so happy for it - having worked in the corporate world, I do miss my officemates from time to time. I mean, I love my employees, but I would love to dish with other business owners, it just helps out when times are tough.
Friends with Your Competition
As I stated earlier, I had many emails in my in box, other designers that wanted me to know about this situation. They took the time to let me know that my images were on the site - which I totally appreciate.
I sat back and watched as the emails starting flying, from one website owner to another, to a ceramic artists, to a canvas artist, back to this woman. Attorneys were contacted, emails were sent, threats were made....um our copyrights were shown to this little poor naive Southern Belle. At the end I really did sort of feel sorry for her - she had no idea all these women would rally together and spread the word....oh and it spread fast.
I sometimes forget what a small world it is, and what a small industry I work in. I really do forget that I am out there, on the web, for good or for bad I am also an open book. I would like to pretend I am a big deal (ya, a legend in my own mind right?), but I usually just sit back nose to grind stone and forget everyone else. This camaraderie, and looking out for others - is just awesome. I don't think that Larry Ellison would call Bill Gates with a similar situation. I am glad I work in an industry that I can get an email from another ceramic artist, letting me know that someone is claiming she can paint my designs, I am still sometimes shocked that anyone knows who I am.
The Wilde Wilde West
As I stated earlier, I feel sort of sorry for this girl, at first she played the ignorance card, then the I took the site down card, finally I am sorry what can I do? People need to understand copyright infringement, stealing photographs, and um, well the power of our industry. I heard of this happening to others, in the ceramic industry it is quite common (I have been lucky so far) but I don't think anyone ever had the gall, or um shall I say "balls" to claim to paint wood, canvas, and ceramics all at once - copying work, but using our images - not a tiny change? This poor thing did not see us coming. I really do not see her as a threat - but we can not let our guard down.
"Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned"
Apparently, last check the site was down, but you can still find it when you do a search. Some pages are still able to be seen. She has a myspace page, and it claims she sold some platters, and had a physical store, a boutique if you will, even. Hopefully she learned a valuable lesson - and hopefully the next Nimrod...oh sorry, person that tries to screw with us artisans in the children's industry will think twice about it.
Thanks to everyone for keeping it real....I am proud to part of an honest industry!