Stolen designs? Use Social media!
I'm involved in a few groups of highly talented jewelry designers and metalsmiths. Many of us sell our work online, or at least exhibit images of our work online. This leaves us vulnerable to be copied by big foreign "companies" that are trolling the internet and craft markets for designs to rip off. It is a big problem, for both the designer and the public who are duped by these scammers.
stop © theft in the arts!
Designers of course are being ripped off- their creativity being xeroxed and slapped on an inferior "product", which is equal to outright theft. Customers of these copycat outfits are partially to blame, because they have bought into the theft , lured by false promises and shoddy imitation. It's nothing new- Nike, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci have all had their designs stolen and sold on the street. The only real difference is that now the pirates are pillaging individual artists instead of corporations (which have the power of lawyers and the money to protect their goods and ideas).
What can a single artist do? Many of us are already undervaluing our work and so doing are under paying ourselves. Even in good times thinking of coming up with thousands to commence a legal defense is usually out of the question.
What can we do? USE SOCIAL MEDIA to spread the word!
We are freshly entering a new era- Illustrated by global changes such as the Arab Spring and protest movements such as the Occupy movement. One person can effectively disseminate information worldwide with very little effort in very little time.
One well written blog post that is shared, one tweet re-tweeted many times, posts in all group pages, across all social media platforms with links and images and discussions can be the starting point for illumination- We as artists can shine the light on this problem, flush out the cockroaches hiding in the corners and effectively educate and warn our communities and customers. All there needs to be is a plan.
So- this is what I propose- (as a start) ......
Anytime a piece is found to be illegally copied (ripped off) GET LOUD!
Post as many specifics that you can without opening yourself up for legal problems yourself (put the spotlight on the specific company/entity.)
Let other artists know what is going on- ask for a re-post or re-tweet.
Artists- Re-post! the longer the chain of shares and re-tweets the more information is spread through the community, which will keep the conversation going, keep the community vigilant and bring us together as a force to be reckoned with.
Above all- don't let the assholes get you down. Copycats have been around since the dawn of mankind, it's not going away. There is even a truism that says that copying is a form of flattery. (though someone who is losing business because of these rip off hyenas certainly isn't flattered, they are irate- for damn good reason!)
Power to the artists, come together as a community- let's keep this topic on the front burner and get organized to help protect our original designs!
And customers, remember- cheaper really does mean cheaper. If you value handmade, the artist has to get paid!
ciao- Maureen BZ
Founder, "Metalsmiths Unite!"