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.