Copyright infringement update

I spent a good chunk of time this week drafting a few letters. Not the kind of letters I would like to spend free time writing, sadly. After much mulling back and forth about how to handle the Blatant Copying of my work and Stealing of my Photography, and having many conversations, comments and advice given, I came to a few realizations. 

This happens far too often.

I can’t believe that it was an ‘honest mistake’ or the seller could classify this as Fair Use

My work, though in most cases I choose not to pursue selling what I do, is valuable. It would be a disservice not to fight for the protection of my personal property and creations.

I believe this person should be called out, and if anything, chastised as an example to others. Often, over 100 different people visit this site every day. Additionally, I have over 21,000 views (and counting) on my Flickr photo-stream and 284 views to this particular image in question. Granted, that is not very much in the big scheme of things, but if each of those people were aware of copyright infringement repercussions, boycott this seller and get the word out, that is a HUGE number of people being informed.

The blogging/crafting/design world on the internet is far smaller than the web would like us to believe. It seems easy enough to just take something from the seemingly anonymous realm of the digital world, but just as easy for people to be connected and watch out for one another (to which I am immensely grateful for).

There are legal repercussions and policies in place to both prevent this from happening and stop it from happening. I have written a formal letter to Etsy to have all the sold items removed from the site and possibly suspend the seller. I have no qualms in doing this due to the first three reasons and my personal convictions of justice.

I have written a letter to the Seller, which I have included below. I don’t want to be forced to remove my work and cease sharing via photography and design, which is actually a very easy and tempting reaction to simply take all this stuff down. Instead, I would rather set myself up as an example and be transparent in this process. I don’t mean to be snide and malice in seeking public humiliation, but strongly believe knowledge and getting the word out about this sort of thing is the way to go. So please, take precautions to protect yourselves and your work. Your stuff is, upon creation, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED unless you specify otherwise. It is no one else’s right to take, distribute or manipulate anything that you have done, including digital photos and documents. Spread the word, keep commenting and call out people who think they can get away with doing this. It sucks when this happens, but also an opportunity perpetuate the protection of ALL of our stuff. In addition to this letter, I have written (via snail mail) to Etsy and will continue to seek resolve in this matter, or any other that may come up in the future. I hope you will join me in continuing to be aware that Copyright Infringement happens far too prevalently and contacting people when you think yours or someone else’s rights have been infringed upon or their work taken. Continue to spread the word, about this instance, any instance, or just stealing work and designs in general. And thanks to everyone who has lent their comments and support as I tackle this theft.

Hutchme,

A friend alerted me to your illegal usage of some of my work, (linked HERE:http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18607990 and HERE:http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18738222 ) on both your ETSY site and hutchme.com site, recognizing MY photograph of MY kid’s nursery and using MY personal design work and painted mural. This overall image, the mural and decor of the room belongs to me, and under Federal Law protected from further use, distribution, manipulation, use, prepare or create a new version of that work unless I (the owner and creator) authorize and allow such use. Additionally, you may not claim ownership or copyrights to another person’s work, even in derivative forms, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner’s consent. In this case, it appears you have infringed on both. I suggest doing some simple research on copyright law.

Not only are you stealing my photography (which is copyrighted All Rights Reserved), but you have the audacity to flat out steal a hand-painted mural I did on my children’s wall and actually sell, for self profit and gain, my design work. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the legal repercussions of copyright infringement, though from your profile you site your years of experience in the Fashion Industry, I am sure you have some knowledge (or at least common sense) that stealing is not only wrong, it’s ILLEGAL. The original upload to the internet of this image is under my Flickr account, of which ALL 5000 images are protected All Rights Reserved. I have posted these images to public groups, to extend and share Inspiration for other’s to view, but my settings do not allow for download or use without explicit permission. In one case I did extend use to Ohdeedoh,com when they came to me and asked to do a Nursery Tour of this room. That is the ONLY other place that I have exclusively granted permission to use my photographs of this room. Now, I know how easy it is to screenshot even a protected photograph, but the fact remains regardless of how you obtained a copy of this digital media, the rights of my property have been infringed upon by you and your company.

I am writing to request that you immediately cease using and manipulating my photography and design work, claiming it as your own and selling my work. Browsing through your ETSY store and sold items, I have come across 12 instances of your use and sales using my photograph and design work of the tree mural, claimed as your own, without my permission. Additionally, you have used and manipulated that same image with some simple Photoshop work to paste in another design you are selling/sold nearly 20 times. In both cases, this qualifies as you infringing on my protected work. 

Please know I will do whatever I can to seek to protect my copyrights against unauthorized use, even if it comes to filing a civil lawsuit in Federal District Court. Also, in cases of willful infringement for profit, the U.S. Attorney may initiate a criminal investigation. Now I know that sounds harsh, and this seems like a small little issue (it’s not like we are the Beatles vs. Apple or anything), I don’t plan to seek any royalty gain on the profit from your sales of my work (though I could). I simply ask that you take down the listings and images on your website belonging to me with in 24 hours and cease using my work in any way, shape or form thereafter. I will first I will follow ETSY’s Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy (LINK: http://www.etsy.com/copyright_policy.php ) and alert them via written notice by the end of the week. If that does not result in resolving the issue, I will be consulting my legal council. 

Thank you for your cooperation in a quick resolve to this issue,

Natalie Grummer
g.design, Partner
natalie g. photography, Owner

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~ by gdesign on December 27, 2008.

5 Responses to “Copyright infringement update”

  1. I’m so glad to see you tackle this issue head on. I don’t think you’re being over-reactive at all, either. See you soon.

  2. Not that I’m anywhere as creative as you, but this makes me want to put the same copyright/disclaimer on my pics and my blog… Hope this situation is resolved quickly for you 🙂

  3. i haven’t checked in for a little while, so i had no idea this was going on. i’m so sorry to hear about this! it’s horrible and so frustrating, and i’m glad you are taking what steps you can to attack this issue!

  4. This whole thing makes me sick. Thank you for your transparency in handling this situation. I will be following for updates. I hope this is all resolved quickly.

  5. you SHOULD go for compensation from this person. without question.

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