Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Harmony (color)

©Kathleen Rietz
I hate having to plaster my name across all of my images lately. But some people out there just do not get it. Last month I received an email from a grandmother who set up a blog for her grandchildren and was lifting images from my blog and others'. She said she read my copyright disclaimer, and decided maybe she should ask permission. I found this really irritating because she should have known better at her age. I always have a copyright disclaimer on my blog, plus the © symbol and my name under my images in every post. I explained to her (nicely) that freelance artists such as myself do not create work for the heck of it for everyone out there to use, but that it is our livelyhood, and that lifting images for her own personal use is the same as stealing. I told her she could continue to use my images if she asked permission each time, gave me named credit and a link on her blog and was not using my images to make money in any way....but of course she took it personally and said she would remove my images from her blog. Why is it that standing up for our rights as artists is offensive to some people? Do they think that just because I create sweet images of children and animals that I am a softie when it comes to my rights as an artist and business woman, not to mention the integrity of my work? I suggest that everyone else plaster your artwork with your name if you plan to post images on your blog. I wish my website software had the option of image "rollovers" like some others do...but not yet. Whatever you can do to make it harder for theives (and grandmas!) to steal your work, do it!

What about you? Have you had to deal with a situation like this? How do you protect your work?


  1. You go girl for telling grandma! I had someting similar happen to me years ago (in 1995) I was the designer for an ISP in Miami. FL and created graphics for their site. Shortly after we found another ISP in St. Petersburg, FL with the same exact graphics for a navigation. Since I worked for a larger company my boss had the lawyers draft a nice little letter, and within a week the graphics were changed!
    I should know better now and put my name on all my pieces, but I don't . Reading about expereince makes me think, that I should start.

    BTW- Love your illustration. Serenity now! love it!

  2. Thanks for telling your story Edrian. I do not know why people think it is okay just to take something without asking for it. I think the more we post about this type of thing, the better. Awareness leads to action.

  3. Hi kathleen, Hope you are well.
    I find myself in total agreeance and well done for sayin what you said. Ol' Granma's nose must have been put well out of joint.
    I know that on one level it's quite flattering to think that people like one's work, but it's also another to have it ripped off without so much as a thankyou. I've been lucky up to this point and haven't had any instances where I've had to lay down the law. I've always been asked. There was a young girl about 2 years ago who did a classroom talk about me, but even she asked if she could use my images.
    the internet is fantastic for obvious reasons, but the pitfalls are many, there are also not many decent policing 'rules' so we have to just hope we get lucky and nab the perps when they lift our work. Good on you. I can just see the old girl standing in jail with one of those police numbers for her mugshot.
    You know what, I think I'll start adding a watermark to my images now too.
    Take care, All the best, Aaron.

  4. Thanks Aaron.

    By the way, your art is very magical and I can see why the young girl want to do a lecture in school about you!

  5. I totally agree with you Kathleen! It's so irritating that people who do this don't get that they are stealing! I have had many instances where people "just love" my work, but they think they are entitled to it for free! Good for you for standing up to the grandma...and you're right, she should know better.

  6. Thanks for the warning. My brother told me to do that when he looked at my fairly new blog. I told him that I had mentioned copywrite in my sidebar and that was how most bloggers did it. Now I'll have to rethink my posts. I don't see a copywrite "c" in the circle on my keyboard. Where do you find it?

  7. Oh, Harmony in color is very nice. Vickie

  8. oh man KAte...that sucks....I am shocked that she wouldn't know any better....

    I hope that people respect these and thanks for the heads up...

    Beautiful work !!!

  9. Hey Kate, I do love this in color!!! And, I'm really glad you took this opportunity to educate folks about what the copyright statement is all about! Just as a person should not make copies of paintings in a gallery, one should not lift images from a blog/website, which is basically an online gallery! BTW, nice *pink* site!!

  10. Gorgeous illo!
    If you'd like to visit my blog, you'll see I've given you an award!x

  11. FYI - I have an award for you on my blog! :)

  12. Sigh, I have no idea where some of my images are off to in the www, but yes we must tell off (um, educate!) people about stealing our work. So right on. People ask for images to use for this and that, having no idea or even crosses their minds that payment is even an issue.

    Anyways, I can go on and on about this!

    I love this piece btw- very peaceful and calm :-)

  13. Hey gal! First off, I've just been introduced to your work, and all I can say is WOW!

    I now how you feel and totally agree about people just feeling like 'if it's on the internet, it's free to grab'. Unbelievable! They do that with digital scrapbook kits as well, and feel it's ok to share them just like they steal copies of music etc. Luckily I've stayed under their radar for now, but I really feel for all of those that have their hard work stolen from them.

    Keep up the good work!


  14. Wow, I guess this is truly scary because what about the people who are out there they do such things and don't contact you for "permission". I think it is a valid and frustrating situation for artists when their art is being distributed or copied without payment. After all, just because we host a blog, doesn't mean those posts can be used as clip art at will. I think it is great that you stood your ground, I will need to remember to watermark my images as well. Thanks for this post, a healthy reminder for us all.

  15. Sigh.. a topic that is often in the forefront of our minds as illustrators. People are simply this: ignorant. The internet is rampant with theft and it's not just "movies and music". A friend of mine and I caught two older ladies selling greeting cards with print outs of people's illustrations glued on them at a farmers market once. Another time an aunt said that someone had received a greeting card with my illustration on it (an illustration I had never made into a greeting card nor sold any rights to use as a greeting card, made by another different local person) and someone that I had donated a painting to for their charity decided to use the file I gave her to print personal copies of said painting for her office... really, it will be a life long task educating people.

    While not all of them are ignorant (some simply claim ignorance) I really do just have to take a deep breath and calmly explain my situation. There are probably countless cases of people using our images to adorn their websites, to print out and put in a scrapbook or what have you. I'm getting better at just accepting these heart-breaking glitches, even if it means that someone is somehow making money off of art that I haven't yet managed to sell the rights to. Sigh... I'm probably lying! It always angers me when I hear of another artist discovering someone like this.

    Oh! And by the way: you can get the © symbol by holding down the option key and pressing the letter g on your keyboard (at least that's what it is on a mac).

    Thanks for the excellent post Kathleen!

  16. Thanks for your wonderful and helpful comment Crystal. What a scary story. Really is important that we all take bigger steps to protect our work, even if it means typing our names in big letters across it.

    Thanks everyone!

  17. Oh, Kate--sorry about your situation. You're right--awareness leads to action.

  18. Well, with the treat of the Orphan Works act, the story of the book published overseas with all of the stolen blog art, and a dishonest world we live in, I will be plastering my images with a copyright. Though, admittedly, I don't think I have really done anything on my blog yet worth stealing! :D

  19. Wait, I suppose you'll want me to burn all those decorative floor mats I was selling on ebay? ;)

    I've been loving the flower girls by the way (big seller for me, haha).

    I guess besides being wrong it is also flattering, at least.

  20. Beautiful work Kate!!! I love it in color.. so soft and relaxing too :o)

    You have a really good point there. I should start adding something to my images. I only have the disclaimer on my sidebar and maybe that is not enough.

  21. Oy, it's so hard to keep track of your stuff after putting it on the internet!

    I've put a watermark on my stuff and then taken it off (I'm in "off" mode now). It's hard to take an image that I spent so much time creating and then plaster a copyright symbol or name across it. I'll probably go back to "on" mode at some point.

    Why don't people get it? Great question - I think you partially answered it. You make nice drawings of nice things, you seem like a nice person (the ax is under your bed, right?). You must want to share with everyone!

    So to some people, it must seem so harmless to pull the image (If it's so easy, why can't I?), use it on their site, home, or office (She should be flattered!), or even sell it as their own (Nobody really notices, do they?).

    It's ignorance, but I think that every person that does it must have some tiny little part of them that senses the wrongness in the action.

    When Grandma got called on the carpet she was probably embarrassed and felt defensive, so she reacted by being nasty.

    I think there are three kinds of copyrighted image thieves:

    1. Is this OK? I think it is, maybe. It probably is and I'm not gonna worry about it or ask.

    2. This is wrong, but it's not like I'm a big company. Those laws are for the big guys. Art belongs to all of us.

    3. Dude, I can totally rip this off and no one will know. Heh heh heh.

    The best any artist can do is put a copyright notice on the site, on each image, and hope that people actually respect it.

    That's me being nice and diplomatic. The little man in my head has my lawyer on speed dial.

  22. First of all let me start by saying what a fantastic drawing this is! I'm all about finding balance if at all possible. Secondly...OMG!!! How could that woman be irritated with you for standing up for yourself? Some people are clueless and selfsih, really. I have no idea how many of my images may have been ripped off. I often wonder about it but there's no way to check. That's what the theives count on though...that we won't take the time or the resources to check up on them. It's wonderful to see your strong self come out! You tell em' Kate!

  23. You are so right! Fight for your work!

  24. Kate-- Good for you for standing up for your work. I say we all keep talking about it, keep educating people-- with any luck someday they'll get the message. (Well, at least the honest ones...)

  25. Firstly, a very sweet illustration, Kate!

    Secondly, good for you standing up for your rights! I wouldn't have a clue if any of my work is being used without my permission but I would hate for it to happen. I used to put the copyright watermark on my images but, apart from feeling like it spoiled the overall effect, I got a little lazy. Maybe your post should serve as a warning for me to start plastering copyright watermarks across my images again. Thanks.

  26. That is SHOCKING!! I can't believe that this sweet ol' granma wouldn't ask permission at least!!!

    I love the illustrations Kate!


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