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 About.com!
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.