Friday, January 20, 2012


Really, is there a full moon? Or some planet in retrograde somewhere? Something is seriously screwed up in BeadLand this week, and I'm about to out a copyright-violating Etsy seller, so here we go, SOPA notwithstanding.

Yesterday, one of my wonderful friends on Facebook mentioned that this Etsy seller, Areva, was downloading free tutorials from some very well-known and well-respected bead artists and SELLING them in her Etsy shop!

At first, I was like, for real? Am I really seeing this? She wants $5 for a tutorial you can download for free on Sabine Lippert's website? Then I looked a little closer and, lo and behold!, she was charging $5 a pop for two of my free tutorials that I published when I was over at!

Now, I don't own the copyright to those tutorials. But The New York Times does. After mulling over this for a few seconds, I promptly sent this thief messages that said I was the designer of those projects and the copyright owner was The New York Times and that they had been notified that she was violating their copyright.

And then this morning, lo and behold!, they were gone! Poof!

To the copyright thieves everywhere: do you really think we're this stupid? Do you really think that we're not going to find out if you try to sell our free tutorials in your Etsy shop?

The Sisterhood/Brotherhood of the Designing Beaders is stronger than you might imagine. When you mess with one of us, you mess with ALL of us, so take heed! If we find out that you are violating copyright, or just doing things are unethical and not very  nice, we will take you down.

So, in the middle of all this craziness over this person who thinks she can sell free patterns in her Etsy shop and get away with it, my dear friend Carol Dean Sharpe finds THIS on YouTube:

And I think more than a few of us threw up in our mouths a little when we saw this and heard what this clearly uninformed person had to say about copyright.

When I watched this, the first thing I thought was, "Are you kidding me, lady? Have you EVER tried to make a living as an artist selling your OWN designs and not just riding the backs of more talented artists than yourself?"

Did this person ever wonder why large companies and corporations hire entire teams of intellectual property lawyers to defend against copyright theft?

Then this afternoon, to add the icing to the Crazy Copyright Theft Cake, Mikki Ferrugiaro has been informed that she can't release the tutorial for her gorgeous Finger Armor design because there is someone out there who thinks that she can PATENT all beadwoven rings that cover more than one part of the finger. And apparently, this person has a very well-paid (and potentially unscrupulous) attorney who is suing Mikki. (Head on over to Mikki's blog and scroll down to see her gorgeous Finger Armor.)

Oh, but then it gets even better - this person also asked Mikki if she could share how she created the hinges in her Finger Armor design so they could be included in HER instructions.

Now, come on. You can't make this shit up.

So, here's my take on this whole thing:

If you didn't sketch it out, sit up for hours beading it while breaking needles, bleeding and missing out on much-needed sleep until all hours of the night, then sit down and write out the seventeen-page tutorial complete with illustrations that made you sweat more blood, you have no right to sell it.

There's a REASON why those companies have attorneys to protect their intellectual property interests. They spend a lot of time and money developing these things, and it's the same for independent artists, but without all 2,500 middle men between the CEO and the person who rings you up at the checkout.

And the independent artists might not have a whole team of high-priced corporate lawyers, but their rights are the same as the rights of the corporation. (Remember that whole corporations-are-people thing? Yeah, well, people are people, too! And we all have intellectual property rights!)

So even if the independent artist DOESN'T have all this legal firepower at their behest, it's still just not a very nice thing to do when you copy someone's work and sell it as your own. Remember when you were in grade school? If you looked over at your neighbor's math test and started copying their answers, then got caught, wouldn't you have just died of embarrassment? Well, it's the same thing now that we're all (supposedly) grown-ups. You gotta play nice.

My sister, a college English professor, routinely flunks students who she catches plagiarizing. And it's not just "kids" either. She's caught adults (who supposedly know better - one of them was a MINISTER, for cryin' out loud!) who think they can take someone's work and thoughts and vision and pass it off as their own.

Now, I don't think it's ILLEGAL to copy someone else's essay and turn it in to your college professor. But that violates academic standards for pretty much every college and university in the United States. And probably Europe, too. And if you get caught doing it, it's grounds to be kicked out of that school.

Note that last line: And if you get caught doing it, it's grounds to be kicked out of that school.

So, anyone who's thinking that "in these tough economic times" it's perfectly okay to take those designs that you see in magazines and on the Internet and copy them and sell them as your own should take note: if you get caught (and you will get caught), not only will you be publicly embarrassed and humiliated, but you will get kicked out of BeadLand for good.


Carol Dean said...

Thank you for saying what needs to be said, Jen!

As for that video, I didn't find it. An FB friend posted the link on my wall as an argument (I think) against my stance on copyright and discriminating between "for personal use only" and "for personal AND commercial use' in my pattern sales. sigh. :(

Jean Hutter said...

OMG I just watched the video and cannot believe it - this is a sad day in beading.

Callie Mitchell said...

Wonderful post - well said!

diane hawkey said...

wow...just wow.

designlady said...

This is an appalling and ignorant woman. I have had problems with copyright, but supposedly the laws are better now. I think that woman called the attorney I used, as the bs was about the same as I got. I don't teach, create, or sell painted pieces any more. This type of attitude from this woman and the ignorant attorney she talked to are creating so much misinformation and frustration. It is hard enough to put your work,time,and efforts out in the public,never mind trying to make a living or at least pay for supplies. Why? Frustrating to know the ignorance on copyright laws is still misinterpreted, not much seems to have changed since 1985. I am honored to be able to correct all those I come in contact with, and as artists that write instructions for our designs, we must pass on the correct information. Slow but steady will eventually win the race!

vic3tory said...

Astounding. I don't know where to begin. She went to a lot of trouble to justify what is just theft and deception.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Amazing what lengths people will go to. Just amazing. And I bet each and every one of them would be the first to cry foul if they were treated the way they are treating others.

Sig Wynne-Evans said...

Problem is *Some* of what she said is right...but MOST is presented wrong. You CAN copyright patterns. They do belong to the designer. Someone CAN teach from them PROVIDED that ALL students have BOUGHT AN ORIGINAL COPY. I covered all this in detail in my blog..

But the impression she leaves is that anyone can do ANYTHING with a pattern/book etc they wish. They cannot there are of course restrictions. And instructions (the words and illustrations) are copyrightable. But if someone wants to rewrite in their own words and diagrams how to do peyote for example, they can. You know this has been done thousands of times. Processes and techniques themselves cant be copyrighted, but the directions can be.

To make matters worse for those who do not know, while patterns and art in general is "copyrighted" from conception, in order to fight it in court, it MUST be formally deposited and registered with the copyright office....

Florence Turnour said...

That video only had 7 dislikes. Rally beaders! "Dislike" the video!

KV said...

Absolutely amazing . . . .

Kathy V in NM

Social Butterfly Jewellery said...

Here, here bloody well said .. The beading community is strong and vigilant. I wander the Internet on a daily basis so am always on the look out for design theft. This particular Etsy seller aptly deserves to be known as a Copyright Psychopath!!!! Such shameless selling of free tutorials and the use of images that where not her work or property. This Aussie beader is disgusted .. Or what we say over here bloody pissed and ropeable!!

Allie Gower said...

Thanks for your post. This issue needs to be shared again and again, and people need to take a stand. I don't think people are able to rationalize in their head that it is no different from stealing the food right off of your table. They just don't get it, and don't want to, because then they might feel bad. I'm so sorry that this happens, and continues to happen.

Anonymous said...

Who is the woman who posted the original video on YouTube? She needs to be exposed! She calls herself a lawyer who protects a corporation from infringements of their trademarks, logos, etc., but she so blatantly disregards the rights of individuals who are the core of the creative community. SHAME ON HER!!!

Snowrose said...

I watched the video unfortunately with the 'audio captioning'.... I'm sorry to say that none of it made any sense to me. "You have a right to your brain"??? Nuclear Selling??? I've no clue at all what she's saying. It's obviously a woman because of her hands/nails. Unfortunately it is only captioned if you use the 'audio captioning'... This has been driving me nuts.... I've watched it a few times to see if I can do my usual guessing by picking up a word here and there and put the pieces of the puzzle together (like I do daily in person with hearing people)... But it was just impossible to even put anything together. It was that bad... If one of you don't mind, please turn the 'audio captioning' on... but turn OFF your volume... Just read and do not listen to the sound of anything... just read... If that's what she's saying, it makes no sense to me... none. I'll be very surprised if she's indeed saying what she's saying which beats me. If it's not the same as what she's saying, can someone tell me what she's saying? I have that magazine. It's the first time I got that magazine in I don't know how long... You can make money? Charm bracelet?
As far as what you've said Jen, you said it so well... Carol has been fighting tirelessly and it's a good thing to see the community fighting this fight.... I'm just disappointed more people aren't joining and feels like a very lonely fight. Thank you to each and everyone of you who do not throw in the towel that easily... just keep on fighting the battle... We may use tiny seed beads, but our voices aren't as tiny/quiet as the seed beads are... our voices will resonate and make a difference. Just keep at it!

mdgtjulie said...

I couldn't stand to listen to her whole video. What kind of person makes a video like this and basically throws designers to the wolves? It's ridiculous!!!