Ask permission and give credit

Focal cabochon by Randee Ketzel, a polymer clay artist in Texas.

Focal cabochon by Randee Ketzel, a polymer clay artist in Texas. See her etsy shop here -> http://www.etsy.com/shop/RMKDesign.

My copper viking weave bangle bracelet (shown left) is one my very favorites. I think I’m not ready to let it go yet, that’s why it hasn’t sold. I found out a long while back that some company had used this image to put a pretty picture in their blog entry about the history of bangle bracelets. Mine was one of several used. I was never notified or asked for permission…and certainly wasn’t cited in the post nor was there a link back to either my blog or my Artfire store, where it is posted. Not happy. Although secretly pleased that some company liked my picture and work enough to want to use it. I hate to admit that, because it does not make it Ok for them to do that. It’s not OK and I do mind they didn’t contact me in any way.

Today I was looking up a tutorial I purchased a long time ago and never made. Isn’t that the way with tuts sometimes? You buy a bunch… you hoard them really, and sometimes don’t get around to making the item until months or years later? I’ve got a couple like that, including a dragon scale chain maille bracelet… but back to the subject. Asking permission and giving proper credit.

I read through the tutorial I had purchased at de Cor’s website over a year ago and just decided to go to the website to see any of her new tuts she might have for sale. I saw a story of the situation where she found out another artist was creating her whale tail pendant and presenting it as her own work. The person doing it was a seasoned seller and makes her own jewelry as well, according to her, and she had no idea that the “free” site she got it from was actually de Cor’s tutorial. I am skeptical. You’re in this business any length of time and you hear about getting permission and giving credit in a hurry. I will admit that I learned this lesson the hard way myself on a piece I posted by being called out for not giving credit to the artist who designed it. D’oh! Of course that was proper, but I was really ignorant back then. I made the piece just to practice the technique and I was happy it turned out nicely, so I posted it. “See what I did!?” kind of thing. But it just took that once and I am forever acutely aware of the responsibility we have to credit other people’s work. One day you might be that person who put in hours and days and weeks and even longer worth of blood, sweat, tears, sleepness nights, curses, redos, etc. and someone might use your work without permission or credit it to you, and claim they didn’t know. Trust me it comes full circle then and you’ll ‘get it’ in a hurry.

Some might be thinking ‘how stupid is that?’ people should know already. It’s like plagiarism, you have to cite the work, or you can get expelled for writing a paper based on others’ research but claiming it’s yours. Well I am here to tell you some of us are really dumb like that and need a bit of an awakening to fully understand. Even if you’re not running a business out of your creative work, you still need to understand the time, effort, and resources others put into their work. Artists need money to survive just like anyone else. Don’t undermine their efforts because of your high ideals of ‘sharing with everyone for free.’ Or greed. It’s not your work, it’s not your decision. And there are laws to protect them. (Just to be clear I wasn’t of the mind to share for free because all things should be freely shared – I didn’t and don’t think that. I was just really dumb and didn’t get it at the time.) So – once warned, forever aware.

This behavior is rampant in China. There is absolutely NO respect of intellectual rights. They will copy and reproduce anything they want. And make a lot of money off of anyone’s designs. Just think of all the designer purses and jeans out there. They do jewelry just the same.

Luckily there is a way to check on your work to see if it’s being used online. Use the Google images search and you’ll be surprised what comes up. I did this with my bangle bracelet and that is how I found it. Today, that blog on the history of bangles couldn’t be found, but I did find another listing in which my image was being used and I promptly wrote them a strong letter.

So to find your work out there in the interwebs, do the following:

Go to www.google.com/images

Click on the camera icon in the search bar

search by image

In the resulting windown, paste in the url of the image you want to search OR upload your image.

Easy peasy!

Google will come back with all the results it finds, including your own posts and listings on your blogs, your store, other people’s use of it in their blogs, etc. Wherever the image pops up. Keep in mind it is still a computer doing the searching, so if you have posted multiple images, as in the same product but maybe at different angles, you’ll want to search them too, because you never know which image you have posted that others will go for to use as their own. You can also search different sizes of the same picture. I found my copper viking weave bangle by doing that, because the original size wasn’t used.

Sorry if I sound harsh regarding the subject, but it’s a serious problem for artists and if this post can help save misunderstandings or help to educate people regarding the use of artists’ work, even “just” the pictures, then I have accomplished my goal.

Stay tuned next week where I will show you the completed pendant using the tutorial that I purchased from Cora so long ago to honor my mom, may she rest in peace.

Thank you for stopping by!

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