What would you do if you saw something you drew, painted, designed, physically created, or what have you, mass marketed at a well known retailer without your permission? I would not even know how to go about the situation since I would probably be so irate that a company would blatantly rip off my designs. I have noticed this happening more this year, with the internet being a bevy of wonderful information and one of the best communication sources artists and designers have to promote themselves, and it’s so heartbreaking to see that the big guys are beating the little guys. Do artist’s really have to go through every single one of their photos of their creations, slap a giant copyright symbol across the image and state in nice little paragraph that the content and designs are there? Has this really stopped bold companies before? Imitation is supposedly a form of flattery, but this surely isn’t the case.
I have a statement about all of my designs and photographs on my blog as well as my Etsy shop which covers most if not all aspects of basic copyright. I suppose the best defense is a good offense-know your facts, know your rights, and know your product and your creations like the back of your hand and keep track of when you created your designs. I have found this to be easy with my paintings since I sign and date each one upon completion, and my photographs have a digital time stamp with them. Jewelry is a bit more tricky. I try to take pictures of the week’s creations and file according to date. Textiles design worries me, and I was wary at first about posting anything at all, but I wanted a good representation of my designs on my Facebook page and my blog (which obviously needs more pictures!) so that I can be competitive and just share my ideas. It’s a risk that artists and designers have to take, posting their wares online. I have read about retailers who shall remain nameless stealing designs from artists at farmer’s markets as well. This is so unfortunate. You would think that a company that loves someone’s designs so much would ask them to manufacture the items for them or offer some sort of licensing deal, not outright steal the designs.
I know situations vary on a case by case basis, but the fact of the matter is-companies often have their own in-house designers that can use their own creative ingenue to put their own imprint on the design rather than just taking all of the elements of a design and selling it as their own.
I hope in the future I never have to deal with this. I hope while in school I can learn more about copyright law as it pertains to artists and designers so that I can really cover my bases.