But after reading my pal Dianne Salerni's blog post today, which mentioned the cautionary tale by writer/blogger Roni Loren - Roni was sued, an extraordinary sum, for using someone else's picture on her blog (an excellent, informative post - you really should read it) - I thought I might share a few stories.
The other day, a pal of mine discovered one of my Elegant Snobs on one of her favorite blogs - and the image wasn't credited to me. Or linked to me, or the Etsy shop where I sell my work, in any way.
Now, I knew the woman who used my image was just another blogger, not trying to make a profit off my design. When I got in touch with her, she said she found it on Google Images, and couldn't find the original source.
I KNOW my work is all over Google Images. According to Google Analytics, I get THOUSANDS of blog hits a month because of my Elegant Snobbery artwork. And those are the images that actually LINK to my blog! Who knows how many of my images lead nowhere? I don't even want to begin counting.
The woman in the above story was kind, and genuinely apologetic, and gave me credit immediately after I asked her to either credit me as the artist or take the picture down. I wasn't bothered by the event - I understand that the original artists behind many, many, many, many, many, ect, works are getting lost to the World Wide Web (those who follow me on Twitter and Pinterest might have seen recently how preachy I've been getting about crediting original artists - I seriously spend HOURS trying to find the original artists for uncredited images when I pin them on Pinterest, and it sickens me when that info is deleted when the pictures are repinned)
When images are used, without crediting the creator of the images (or asking permission if you plan on making a profit from those images!!!), it is, in a way, stealing.
See this cupcake necklace? Isn't it adorable?*
I cried when I saw it being sold on-line - No, not because I thought the necklace was delicious-looking, and I couldn't afford it because my PayPal account was empty at the time.
I cried because I DREW THAT CUPCAKE, and my image was stolen off Google Images and used to profit someone else (I was also probably highly hormonal at the time, and if there's one thing to know about me, it's that at least once a month, EVERYTHING MAKES ME CRY)
My artwork pays for my kids' trips to the roller rink, you guys. I use my profits to buy presents for their birthday, most often from other indie artists on Etsy. Or books by my favorite authors on Barnes&Noble.com. When people steal my images, I lose out on a lot. My adorable kids lose out on a lot.
I didn't sue, or make a huge stink, because I shy away from drama unless I have tickets to see Les Miz or Shakespeare. I kindly sent the jeweller a message saying, "Hi. This is my art. You have stolen it. You need to remove all jewellery made from my pictures from your site and pay me back for all the necklaces you have sold using my artwork."
The person immediately removed all jewellery featuring my art from his/her shop, compensated me, and has since had his/her shop removed from the web, as every other necklace in his/her shop was made from stolen art, I later discovered, and the person was reported for theft by many other artists.
*is it considered image theft to use said person's image on my blog, if the image within the image was stolen from me? Things to ponder...
I'm one of the lucky people, who was able to resolve the art theft issues quickly and painlessly. I have many artist friends who have not been so lucky.
MEET KATHY JEFFORDS.
(Okay, so that's not actually Kathy in the picture there, that's the one, the only Flowerina, of which the original is IN MY HOUSE and I love her so)
You might know Kathy on Etsy, as The Dreamy Giraffe. You might also know her motivational words and images from Tumblr and Pinterest though they often don't link to her website, where she makes her living as an independent artist. You might even find her images altered - other people's watermarks over them, different backgrounds behind her words, though her words and layouts haven't been changed.
You might even recognize her work from other indie artists and/or stamp makers who have stolen her original words and images in order to make a profit of their own.
It kills me to know that awesome people like Kathy are stuck dealing with art theft. That they are trying to make an honest living as a creative individual, and have to deal with people taking their images and claiming them for themselves.
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO SHADY?!
*needs lavender essential oils and a neck massage, stat!*
Okay, I'm going to calm down and end this post. There's a moral to this story, and that is: if you post a photo on your blog, and you didn't take it yourself, and you don't know who did, and you don't credit anyone, you might get slapped with a lawsuit, and rightfully so. It's unfortunate, if you didn't know better (and I know a lot of people see Google Images and think they're free for the taking). But it happens. And it really does pain the artist behind the art. IT REALLY DOES.
Also, I'll leave you with a note about the Flickr account my awesome pal Dianne Salerni (author of We Hear The Dead -Sourcebooks, 2010- , and The Caged Graves -Clarion, 2013) started, which is filling with images that bloggers are welcome to help themselves to - really, use them in your blog posts! She won't sue you, she promises!
You can find Dianne's free-to-share Flickr account HERE.
Also, if any of you want to use MY art on YOUR blogs, I'm totally cool with that, as long as you credit me as the artist. I love when people love my work enough to share it with their friends! That is one of the best things ever!
Now, I was shocked to see that Roni Loren had to close her blog comments on her cautionary post, because people started name-calling and being all around disrespectful.
I know my blog readers are kind and won't resort to being jerks in my comments, so I'll keep my comments open.