Christa’s Soapbox – Please don’t steal my artwork

You all know I am NOT one who ruffles feathers, but I simply must speak out. I have the cutest artwork that a friend of mine made for my business and I use for my logos. Simply put, people are stealing it and that’s not cool. My only real recourse is to use my social media reach to try and put a stop to it.

Christa at magic sewing machine

Artwork #1

Here’s the backstory – years ago I commissioned a friend to make this first piece of artwork for me and I paid her for it. At the time I did NOT own the EXCLUSIVE rights to this image – only the original drawing and an agreement that I would use it for my website, etc. That meant that she could sell prints of this image to other people. She sold a few, no problem.

Once I began to gain a larger following, I noticed that though my friend had sold a very limited number of print copies of this first image, it began popping up in other people’s websites, newsletters, instagram avatars, and even as a large sign a physical store. NONE of these people, I repeat NONE of the people who were using the image had purchased it from my friend (I checked into it.) They were simply “borrowing it” because they found it “somewhere on the internet.”

Christa Quilts

Artwork #2

Due to people using this first image without permission, I decided I needed a new image. So I commissioned my friend to create a slightly different version that better fit my brand (a quilt under the sewing machine instead of just fabric).  This time I was upfront about wanting to buy exclusive rights to the image so she wouldn’t sell it to anyone else. It was a friendly deal, I paid her for the rights and all was good. Because she knew I was using the second image as my branding, she actually agreed on her own to stop selling the original image, just because she’s my friend and she’s nice that way. Like I said, she had only sold a few anyway.

So I know you all are thinking – why didn’t I watermark it? First and foremost because that would have distracted from the images. Yes, I can probably go back and add something to the images now, but that won’t solve the problem of the original ones that are floating around there now. Also, when I’ve shared the original artwork on my site, it has the artist’s initials on it. People are simply cropping that out. As a matter of fact, I’m working on some more branding now and my graphic designer is incorporating my name right into the artwork to try and prevent this in the future.

 

working

Some current rebranding in process – see the @christaquilts my graphic designer added?

Yes, I could hire a lawyer to send out cease and desist orders, but really that’s very time consuming AND expensive. Not to mention the fact, that most of the time people are notified of the infringement, they do take it down and always cite ignorance.

So it all boils down to you. Many of you have been so fabulous to let me know when you see someone else out there using my images. In fact, in all cases of copyright infringement, it has ALWAYS been a follower who sees them. I’m blissfully ignorant of it ever occurring. Thank you so much for being my eyes and ears out there!

This may continue to be an uphill battle, and l’m not quite as concerned with the original image that’s being “borrowed” as much as I am with the newer logos. But, please continue to inform me if you see someone out there using any of them. With a little social media pressure, we can hopefully keep the stealing borrowing to a minimum.

I will now return to my peppy, happy, non-feather-ruffling self 🙂 Thanks for reading!

 

27 thoughts on “Christa’s Soapbox – Please don’t steal my artwork

  1. Alycia says:

    That is really frustrating – the same frustration when someone copies an original pattern. I had a clothing pattern taken like that – using the same fabrics and all for their garment. I had to use a cease and desist , Its all so frustrating. Hope they stop copying your image – sorry for your troubles.

  2. Pam Arbour says:

    I am so sorry that you and your artist friend are having this problem. I guess you should both be flattered that so many people like it? It’s a real compliment to both of you. Apparently, she has a place in the art world and advertising. She may actually be the one who needs a lawyer to protect her work and she could sell you the exclusive rights to use it. I don’t know why life has to be so hard. I think there is enough copyright information in the media that they all are aware of what they are doing! It sounds like you both have come up with some good solutions with the names on there.

  3. Reena Kaplowitz says:

    Some people are ignorant and others are just plain thieves. What a shame. Your artwork is adorable. If I see some one using it I will def let you know!

  4. Martha Cook says:

    unfortunately as you said it would be too time consuming and expensive but you are being the Christa we admire. your friends and followers are behind you.

  5. Rene says:

    Not exactly sure how to do this but I remember when I was taking a class in webpage design that we could “protect” an image so that it could not be borrowed by putting the code into the page. It might be worth checking into. Good luck!

  6. Julie says:

    Do you or the artist have the images copyrighted? The copyright rules and laws can get tricky and many quilty websites think they can just throw a “you can’t use/make/sell this without my permission ” but that isn’t actual law….If you/the artist haven’t sought copyright through US gov…I would encourage you to pursue that..I think the fee is $30. I am sure this is all very frustrating! The new image is stinking cute by the way!!! Good luck!

      • Julie says:

        The images are so cute! I hope that people will just use respect for each other and not crop your logo for their personal use. Unfortunately, sometimes people do need a reminder about courtesy.

  7. Barb says:

    I put my foot in it last month to combat this “idea” that we can “borrow/loan” anything and have found myself severely chastised for speaking out on the issue at our quilt guild meeting. People can’t really be that ignorant – they’re just selfish and feel entitled to anyone’s creative work that is put in the public realm. Christa, I’ve posted a link to this blog along with a comment on my FB page. Best of luck and I hope by sharing I can help spread the word – even to some of my quilt guild “FB friends”! ??

  8. adaisygarden says:

    Your artwork, which was made by your friend, is beautiful and everyone can understand why it belongs to you – not someone who just found it and used it as if they paid for it. It’s great that you are bringing attention to this issue which is affecting a lot of people. Thank you for taking the time to do that!

  9. thelittlestthistle says:

    The best advice that I ever received as a photographer, which would help with anyone trying to blow up your image to use elsewhere, is to only save it at a low resolution. All my photos are saved at 72 dpi (sufficient resolution for screen but not for print) and then saved as compressed jpegs at 100 kb. Anyone trying to increase the size and print it out would end up with a blocky mess – save your own personal version for patterns/posters etc at high res, but online go low.

  10. springleafstudios says:

    As much as I love the internet and all the opportunity it provides, the downside is that people now think everything is free. We rely on sharing our work online to generate business and yet putting it out there runs the risk of it being used without our consent. The fields of graphic design and photography, to name just a couple, have suffered because people don’t think they should have to pay for it. With such an abundance of images online, the more devalued things like that have become. I don’t know what the answer is but it certainly is a problem and I’m sorry it happened to you. It’s good that you shared. We need more people to understand it’s stealing.

  11. QuiltShopGal says:

    All very sad in deed. I fully understand the frustration. And, while I suspect some people don’t understand copyrights, there are probably a good many that have abused it and do understand. I even know a famous quilter, teacher, author who has taken photos and artwork from blogs and presented it as her own. But on a positive side, most people, most quilters are good at heart and really want to do the right thing.

    QuiltShopGal
    http://www.quiltshopgal.com

  12. Barb Roe says:

    As a former writer/editor with several agencies in our state, I am very conscious of not infringing on others’ copyrights. Your friend’s designs are lovely, and they should be rewarded (by paying her) or respected and not copied (to keep your brand unique). Don’t worry about ruffling feathers. Hearing your concerns through your website will go a long way to educating quilters and others about respecting artists’ intellectual property — and that goes equally well for quilt designs that are copyrighted and sold as patterns. Keep up the good work with your blog, from a grandma who has been delighted to learn all the new tricks out there from the new crop of modern quilters.

  13. Michele says:

    Don’t blame you a bit for taking issue with the ‘borrowing’. It’s everywhere, too. Artwork, written works, designs, just a total disregard for intellectual property. I hope the next iteration of your logo will incorporate your name as an integral part of the design and make it really hard for others to Photoshop you out of the image.

  14. Diane says:

    I understand your frustration, how about when you rebrand, you put your logo
    Directly on the fabric itself instead of on the side where they possibly could crop
    It out. Just a thought.

  15. Alice Gatto says:

    So sorry to hear that you are having this problem. I think that people need to be reminded that art and other intellectual property like poems or books belong to the person that created them, just like money and purchased goods belong to the earner or purchaser. This is something that we used to learn when young. Ethics are not relative; stealing is stealing even if it is an idea that someone else has put forth first. I hope that the people that are stealing your work begin to understand that they are thieves and stop.

  16. Karen says:

    Christa, I’m really sorry to hear that this is happening to you. I looked around a little and have a job for one of your kiddos. istockphoto.com has more than 800 pages of sewing images. All I did was enter “sewing” in their search space and they came up. All kinds of images–photos, drawings, logos. I’m not accusing them of anything but I wonder if maybe you’ve ended up on a source like this. Just a thought.

  17. Glenna Denman says:

    Another school librarian here. So many people are blissfully unaware of copyright issues, although it IS thievery. That goes for “loaning” patterns as well as “borrowing” images. Thanks for this reminder. I do hope it helps people realize that quilters, just like other artists and writers, own their work.

  18. GigTog says:

    I’m right there with you Christa. As a “gig” photographer, I saw my images used on posters, in a display at Ceasar’s Palace and in a music video without photo credit or permission. My watermark was simply cropped out, or worse, someone else’s watermark was added. It’s frustrating. Like you, hiring a lawyer was too costly, so I didn’t take it further. I’ll keep an eye out for you my friend!
    ~Dori

  19. Diane says:

    I’m a school librarian and I tell folks all the time that they can’t just take what’s out there. It amazes me to see the thievery going on.

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