Monday, November 5, 2012

an unhappy distraction

Hi everyone, I'm here with a post that is not one of my happier entries into the So September archives I'm sorry to say. I wanted to share this anyway and hopefully help others, like me who regularly share their creative pursuits with the online community.
You all remember this little friend, right? It's the "She Scatters Shamrocks" free embroidery pattern released with much enthusiasm back in February 2010. She's been pretty popular and has apparently been making her way in the world unbeknownst to me. In September of this year I received an email from someone who was familiar with this pattern informing me that she saw this image on the cover of a book and wanted to let me know because she wasn't sure it was supposed to be there. I'll stop the story right now and say that if there is a hero in this sad tale it is that woman who emailed me to tell me about this. I would have never known otherwise. THANK YOU to her and to everyone else I say - if you see or suspect copyright violation please let the original artist know, please.
And now back to our story. Turns out this image does in fact make an appearance on a book cover*. I was never asked permission to use it, I was never given any credit or compensation. I have a copyright notice on my blog, on the pattern file AND a notice that states it's for personal use only. In addition to all of that, it's also my personal belief that if you are a book illustrator you just know that you can't just use someone else's image that you find online like that. You just know

So, from that fateful day in September on, I have been dealing with the aftermath of the situation. I have talked to lawyers, had countless discussions with my husband and my law-degreed mother-in-law, scoured and scoured the internet looking for information on what to do next and trying to decide what to do next. Needless to say it has cost a LOT of time and energy. It is also extremely disheartening. This is the kind of thing that really makes you want to throw in the towel. Why do all this work if someone is just going to steal it out from under you? I could go on and on about all the dark weepy thoughts that go through your brain but I try to keep that kind of stuff to a minimum on my happy little blog so I will spare you all any more of that.

Anyway, ALL of my work now makes a trip through the government's copyright registration office. Yes, you still own the copyright without taking that step but it really does offer an additional layer of protection that maybe you think and hope you don't need but you do.

I also learned a great deal about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 which is something for which I am very grateful. The process is still ongoing but I wanted to at least take a pause and share a bit about it with you all here. I will be sure to follow up with any other developments in this very educational experience.  

* Notice I did not scan in the image and post it here - that would be against their copyright.


Nicole Follow the White Bunny said...

That is very disheartening indeed! I guess you would felt differently about things if they had only asked permission to use the embroidery and maybe offered some sort of compensation for it...

Carina said...

Corinne, I'm so sorry to hear about this! It continues to baffle me that people can't leave other people's designs alone. I guess I'm naive that way! ;-)

I hope you find a way to deal with this that won't take too much of your time and energy.

Sending you happy thoughts. :-)

Beached Librarian said...

That's utterly disgraceful. I'm so sorry you've had your work stolen and you've had to go through with this. Shame on the illustrator for being too lazy to do something original.

Kristen King said...

Unfortunately I've learned the hard way just like you that there are people who are just looking for ideas to steal and make lots of money doing it. It makes a person very discouraged when you are the one who put all the time and energy into designing something only for someone else to reap the benefits. I'm so sorry for your troubles, and this is awful, but you know, if we don't name the people doing this it will never stop...So I say tell the world who is doing it and let them know they stole from you. If we stand by and say nothing, the only ones who lose are us.

Anonymous said...

Oh, no, Corinne :(. I hope you're able to get it resolved in a way that's satisfactory to you.

And, yes, "yay" for the person who noticed your pattern on the book's cover and notified you.


Kay said...

How awful. I have seen so many posts onfacebbok about this recently, it seems to be all too common now to copy somone's work willy nilly.

Corinne/SeptemberHouse said...

Thanks so much for all the encouragement everyone. It is sad but true that when you bring this topic up it seems like everyone knows someone who has been a victim of this. I so wish that wasn't the case. Talking about it helps - thanks for listening everyone :D

Anonymous said...

Corinne, I am so saddened that this beautiful design, that I feel was made for me personally, has been copied by someone else. I received an embroidered "She Scatters Shamrocks" in a frame from my sister-in-law (Corinne's mother-in-law) for my birthday in April 2010. I cherish this beautifully crafted treasure that reminds me of my Irish heritage. Thank you! R.P.

Mary Pavlik said...

In the animal world such behavior is called kleptoparasitism. Kleptoparasitic animals are thieves and bandits. They gain by obtaining prey or other objects that they could not obtain themselves, or by saving the time and the effort required to obtain the desired item. Source: BBC.CO.UK/nature/adaptations/kleptoparasitism.
So far this definition fits the lazy and equally untalented individual who stole your design instead of coming up with something on their own. In the interest of saving space and cutting down on extra syllables, let's just call that person "the parasite." An illustrator? Not so much.

Whether because of sloppiness or corporate greed, publishing houses will continue to do business with the parasites unless they are given a reason to change their current practices. My hope is that you and others in your community will bang enough pots and pans together to draw attention to the thieves and bandits and those who profit from them.

Keep up the good work.


Brad and Erica said...

I just wanted to say that although I have never commented on your blog, I have been following it for awhile and you have been such a contant source of inspiration for me. It happened to you but I felt personally offended! How could someone be so blatantly rude? Please do not let this cloud hang over you. You are an amazing artist and I hope we continue to see your imagination and creativity at work for a long, long, time!

We are hoping to adopt! Spread the word

Corinne said...

Wow, so many WONDERFUL and supportive responses. I am feeling so lucky to have so much encouragement coming my way. THANK YOU!!

Colorado Stitcher said...

I just tried the book link on your blog to see who/what the book was and it came up unavailable. Perhaps by now Penguin has learned of the infraction and taken steps. I would think a major publisher would not be pleasee with the copyright infringement.

I agree the illustrator should have known! I can see a novice thinkgin it's on the internet it is fair game (IT IS NOT) but an illustrator. Gee. I hope things work out soon and you can get back to fun stuff!!

Corinne said...

Yes, I have noticed that the original cover illustration seems to be a little harder to find than it used to be. I'm sure that is a result of this situation. I still am working through some aspects but it's my hope that my efforts so far are making a difference.
Hopefully it will make illustrators and publisher think twice before allowing this to happen to someone else!

Anonymous said...

Well...this is apparently the authors view on this. How depressing that she thinks you should be flattered! And her comparison with being quoted, and credited, is obviously way off!

I know this took place a while ago, but I just found it while reading about examples of design theft. I hope the outcome you got was satisfactory!

Corinne said...

Wow, I was not aware of that blog post from Gayle Trent - thank you for sharing that.

I am encouraged that she did take that opportunity to encourage people to THINK before they use images and words they find online. I sincerely hope that this situation can at least help drive that point home to people.

Just for the record, I was NOT flattered! All too often, copyright infringement does NOT seem like a big deal to someone who has never experienced it.

Once you put your time, effort, thought and heart into something only to watch someone snatch it right from you - it becomes abundantly clear just how upsetting it can be.

Golden Rule folks, Golden Rule.