I run a business in an industry which is rife with copyright infringement – not dissimilar to miniatures and busts. Whole swathes of my models have been ripped out of the platform where I sell them and hosted on shady forums where people can go and download them for free.
Some have even tried selling them but the platform I use has a process for dealing with them, and it’s usually pretty effective. I’ve had to lodge a number of infringement notices over the years and gotten pretty well versed in international copyright laws as a result of trying to protect my work. I can’t stop people from ripping it off, that’s a fools game. But I can prevent them from selling it, at least on the platform where I also sell.
After yet another closure of one of my favourite miniature producers, I wondered if eBay had a similar policy as well and a quick search later showed that – sure enough…
Scammers and scum will always rip off artists but they are lacking a couple of key things:
- the ability to make new art and stay one step ahead of the scum who rip them off
- any kind of community supporting them.
The artists in question here usually have a very loyal fan base and some of those fans will buy everything they ever produce.
Closing down shop because someone rips off your work is cutting off your nose to spite your face. You’re denying yourself your own income, you’re denying your customer/fan base access to new things you create because they want the things YOU create and they want to support YOU, AND you’re letting the thieves win. I know thievery makes us angry but there are things that can be done.
eBay has a process for dealing with copyright infringement and people who create really should know about it and use it. The Berne Convention protects most countries in terms of international copyright, and there are things we can do as consumers to combat recasters and help the artists we love.
One of the most important things to do if you see a recast being sold on eBay, is to contact the original creator so they can follow it up through the appropriate legal channels. One of the least useful things we can do is bring attention to the recast via social media!
This is the message I give to my customers:- If you like someone’s work, and want them to keep doing it, buy only from the original creator, (or from a legitimate reseller like Mr Lee’s) and report infringement to the artist when you see it.