Update: It’s over. Probably. See the explanation at the end of this blog post.
Please, help me out. I am currently dealing with an especially vile art thief who is using my art for their logotype without my permission. I politely asked them to stop using my art. They refused. They were rude and insulting towards me, and our e-mail conversation ended with them adding my e-mail address to their spam filters.
Normally, a public shaming campaign is something I reserve for the last resort. I prefer to first send a polite e-mail. If an art thief refuses to stop using my art, then I send DMCA takedown notices to various websites where they have posted stolen images. Unfortunately, this time I am dealing with a person who adamantly wants to fight for their imaginary right to abuse artists. Moreover, I don’t have the patience to send dozens of DMCA takedown requests for every single image they have uploaded online (this particular art thief has been immensely proliferate, uploading dozens of stolen images on Facebook and in their personal website).
Thus I am organizing a public shaming campaign. Even thieves care about their reputation and social approval. A bit of social pressure should help even the most stubborn thief understand that their actions are illegal and won’t be tolerated by the society. Copyright infringement is a serious problem that is harming content creators, and we as a society should not tolerate it.
The thief’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Since they have added my e-mail to their spam filters and refuse to talk with me any longer, I would appreciate if you could send them a quick e-mail. Something like: “Art theft stinks. Stop using other people’s intellectual property.” Their Facebook page is here. You can contact them there as well. I would appreciate if you could spare a minute of your time informing this art thief that their actions are not appropriate.
Also, if you have social media accounts, please share this post. Together we can put some social pressure on a nasty person. Art theft is not fine. It is illegal. It is also immoral, because it harms artists who made the original works and didn’t get a single cent in payment. Right now an art thief is benefiting from my work, while I get absolutely nothing in return. All I got from the Blam’s Coon owner were insults.
Moreover, maybe we can raise awareness about the problem. At least a bit. Online copyright infringement is an immense problem, because of its massive scale. Millions of people post stolen images all over the place, especially in social media, hurting artists and photographers in the process. P.S. We can use #ArtTheftStinks hashtag on Twitter. My own Twitter account is here. And here’s my Facebook account.
OK then, here’s the full story of what happened in a chronological order.
I found out that Blam’s Coon were using my artwork as their logotype without my permission. Here are some screenshots from their Facebook page.
I sent them an e-mail asking Blam’s Coon owner to stop using my art. Here is the resulting conversation.
The discussion is, indeed, closed. But the end result won’t be what Blam’s Coon owner wanted. The fact that they decided to ignore me isn’t going to change the underlying problem, namely that they are doing something illegal.
Blam’s Coon really did change their logotype. Unfortunately, they failed to remove my art from it.
I am not OK with this. I want all traces of my art removed from this logotype.
I am not going to tolerate this.
Normally, I never make logotypes for strangers for free. But this time I made an exception. Since Blam’s Coon are incapable of removing my art from their logotype, I helped them a bit. Now my art is covered up. Blam’s Coon are welcome to use this as their new logotype.
I am a professional artist. This means that my art is my source of income. Like all other people, artists also need to eat and pay their rent. Art isn’t just a hobby for us. We cannot settle for being happy that other people like our art. We need income, or else we will starve to death. This means we have to sell our art, we cannot just let everybody take it for free and do with our artworks whatever they want.
Here’s the dilemma every artist faces: We need to upload our artworks online in order to advertise our services and attract new clients. Simultaneously, the moment some picture appears online, a horde of art thieves assume that everything online is public domain. Many people disrespect copyrights and imagine that they are free to do literally anything with any image they found online.
I don’t want to be the grumpy, angry content creator who spoils everybody’s fun. I try to be understanding, I am aware that majority of people are uneducated about copyright laws. That’s understandable. I don’t want to be nasty towards somebody who accidentally used copyrighted art without the author’s permission and meant no harm. But there are limits for my patience. When people stubbornly want to continue using stolen art even after being informed about the problem, then that goes too far.
And, yes, of course I am happy when other people enjoy my art. The whole point of creating art is to make the world more beautiful and bring some joy to people’s lives. But this doesn’t change the fact that I still have bills to pay. I have no doubt that doctors are happy to help their patients, yet nobody demands that a doctor should render their services for free. But numerous people imagine that artists must work for free and not expect any financial payment in return for their work. Unfortunately, under capitalism, artists cannot give away their work for free.
This is why copyright laws exist. Like many other people, Blam’s Coon owner is clearly uneducated about these laws. Yet they have the audacity to try to lecture me about how copyright laws ought to be reinterpreted. The fact that some image has been stolen and illegally posted all over the Internet doesn’t mean that it has become public domain. Nor does it mean that you have a legal right to be the 101st person to steal this image. Moreover, copyright laws do not allow people to take any image they found online, edit it, and then proclaim that this image now belongs to them.
Update (29th March)
Soon after publishing this blog post, I got an e-mail from Blam’s Coon:
This is getting ridiculous. Just how clueless can a person possibly be!? If you are informed about the fact that you have done something that is both illegal and unethical, the correct course of action is not doubling down on it. Why can’t they just stop using my art in their logotype?
Update #2 (30th March)
I guess it is over. I bit the bullet, combed though Blam’s Coon entire Facebook image gallery, and sent Facebook administrators a DMCA takedown notice with approximately 40 individual links to each image that had my art in it. Facebook moderators deleted all the images. I had to spend plenty of time copy-pasting all those links, and Facebook moderators probably didn’t enjoy dealing with it either.
Blam’s Coon immediately responded with uploading this new logotype:
They removed my lines from this image. Now it no longer directly copies my work. Still, I feel a bit bitter. My art style is still visible in this logotype. It’s not like I can copyright an art style, but on some level I do dislike it when a nasty person uses a logotype that looks similar to how I draw my images.
Moreover, here is the Facebook post they wrote in order to announce what has happened. Now this really makes me sad.
I’m not going to bother translating all this text word by word, but here are the main points: Blam’s Coon is complaining about how a nasty person with too much free time has been amusing themselves by harassing them for days. They further complain that dozens of photos featuring their cats have been deleted (yes, their cats were in those photos, but so was my art). They say that they have put side by side an image of their logotype next to my drawing, and that everybody should understand that those two are different. (Note: Facebook moderators will hopefully soon delete my drawing from there, Blam’s Coon have no right to repost my art.) Basically, they claim to be the victims who have been unjustly abused.
All the comments are supportive of them, and offer sympathy. Commenters wish them good luck and perseverance in their fight to get their cat photos restored. It’s obvious that Blam’s Coon have a bunch of faithful followers who have swallowed all their lies. For example, one of the comments expresses exasperation about how during the quarantine some people have nothing to do. In short: I am getting publicly smeared and verbally abused.
No wonder Blam’s Coon didn’t give a shit about me publishing our interactions and writing about everything that happened. Why should they worry about their reputation? After all, after all this saga they ended up with receiving plenty of support and verbal encouragement from their friends. It’s not like their reputation suffered in the slightest. Instead they published some lies and portrayed me as some crazy psycho who harassed them due to having too much free time.
Even though this whole saga is probably over, I still feel sad. I don’t feel like I would have won. I just wasted a lot of time in order to force a thief to finally stop using my art.
Update #3 (31st March)
This is how Blam’s Coon Facebook page looks like now:
At this point I can finally agree with Blam’s Coon owner that their logotype no longer features my art. It took them numerous iterations, but finally they managed to remove my art from their logotype. Obviously, I am fine with this, I have nothing against their logotype in its current form.
The whole saga has been a massive annoyance for me and an epic waste of my time. I’d like to think that it is finally over. Or is it?
Here’s how my e-mail inbox looks like now. This is getting ridiculous. Among all the messages from Facebook about the DMCA takedown notices I submitted, I have gotten 5 e-mails from Blam’s Coon over the last two days. Do they seriously expect me to reply or even read this crap? For example, one of the e-mails I haven’t bothered to even open starts with, “T es vraiment une mauvaise personne!” which is French (with spelling mistakes) for, “You are a truly terrible person!” How clueless does a person have to be in order to expect me to even read what follows next after this kind of first sentence? I am not a masochist, I don’t even bother reading insult-filled messages, never mind replying to them.
Blam’s Coon are dissatisfied with the fact that they (as they claim) are still getting poked by my readers whom I directed towards their page. This, incidentally, is why I normally prefer to settle cases of copyright infringement politely and in private—the moment you make this information public and involve website moderators, it usually takes some days for the dust to settle.
Several days ago, I sent Blam’s Coon a polite e-mail in private. They refused to stop using my art. Thus I had no other choice but to make this public. If Blam’s Coon are unhappy about what has happened, it is their own fault. They made a mistake by imagining that they can get away with using my art. I did give them an opportunity to settle this politely.
But there’s more. I suspect that yesterday somebody tried to hack my Facebook account. I got some suspicious password recovery e-mails. This could be unrelated, but the timing is rather suspicious.
Moreover, after I sent DMCA takedown notices to Facebook moderators who deleted images from Blam’s Coon Facebook page, they appealed and managed to get one of those images back up.
Moreover, I had posted on Facebook a link to this blog entry with some images that illustrated the problem. Blam’s Coon reported that Facebook post of mine as hate speech, and Facebook deleted it. Since when reporting on copyright infringement is hate speech? OK, fine, I admit that there were some poop emojis in there, but I do think that I was justified in covering up my art in Blam’s Coon logotype with some cute emojis.
Obviously, at this point I have no intention of deleting this blog post, which documents the whole sequence of everything that happened. If Blam’s Coon hates the fact that now on the Internet there is an image of their logotype with poop emojis in it, they brought it upon themselves. They made a mistake when they decided to piss me off.