Monday, 15 March 2010

Copyright issues

There has been a 'rash' of decidedly dodgy and illegal digital images and backgrounds on offer on various sites on the web recently, one notable victim being my favourite illustrator Mo Manning.

On her personal group on Papercraft Planet (link on my sidebar) Mo very generously, gives various freebies to the peeps who join her group and follow her activities, so they're not hard to come by. You only have to join and take a regular interest and if you aren't keen enough on her images to do that, why do you want them, free or otherwise?

Unfortunately she has had to remove these freebies from the site now because some peeps have been posting the links to these freebies on 'free digi-image' pointer sites. The saddest thing is, there must have been someone from Mo's group to pass this info on in the first place, I think, to have got to the place where you download them.
(I will just add here that Papercraft Planet have, in the light of these events, tightened up the site so, hopefully, it will be less easy to do this now.)

Whilst I am sure that quite often peeps are doing this not realizing they're doing anything incorrect, Mo is a professional illustrator. She earns her living with these images - it's not just a hobby. She is also very professional in her ethics and would not dream of using another artist's work to promote her own so neither should hers be a free-for-all.

People really need to get to grips with their responsibility to the artists of materials they use, whether they are in the public domain or not.

There are some wonderful works of art in the public domain (out of copyright) and this is a great opportunity for card-designers, rubber stamp makers and all kinds of other creative peeps to use fab images - don't have a problem at all with that but for goodness sake, please try to treat the work of other artists with respect!

I have seen recently William Morris designs altered very slightly and passed off as the artist's own and I have also seen Elizabeth Bell images and Sarah Kay images with the same treatment. This is utterly unacceptable. Nine times out of ten the so-called 'artist' hasn't even altered them very well and resolution is often appalling too. Sometimes the person has just traced the images - badly!

Fair enough, you might not always know who the image originally belonged to but you sure as hell know you didn't design it yourself so don't pass it off as your own!

A small credit like 'Pattern by William Morris' if you don't know the name of the pattern would suffice, although you got the image from somewhere - surely the name was somewhere about?

In the same way, I don't have a problem with the 'freebie' listing sites - they can be very useful, having all the links on the same site, saves a lot of time but once again ASK! In the same way as it is not legally acceptable for you to use another artist's image without permission it's not an excuse to say, 'Well someone sends me these links'. If you are running the site then it's your responsibility to make sure that YOU have all the permissions. You have the link so there's no excuse not to.

I must just point out that this article is not directed at anyone in particular. The site Mo had one 'misunderstanding' with has apologized and made good. She meant well but 'hadn't realized' Mo wouldn't want these 'freebie' images passing on.

It must be understood that just because an artist offers 'freebies' to his or her 'followers', this does not mean they want them handing out to all in sundry!
Most artists keep a log of who has their images and if they're bought from a site, whether digital or physical, they will usually have an order number or item reference to keep tabs on them.

There isn't just one site doing this. There are many and I'm quite sure they aren't all run by well-meaning but naieve hobbyists.

As a user, some responsibility is ours too. If we use another artists work and either don't have the right permissions or it's a copy you can get into serious trouble yourself. And these days the artist doesn't have to be rich either to chase you!

Check this out

One short paragraph which, I think sums most of it up is :-

Restricted acts

It is an offence to perform any of the following acts without the consent of the owner:

Copy the work.

Rent, lend or issue copies of the work to the public.

Perform, broadcast or show the work in public.

Adapt the work.

The author of a work, or a director of a film may also have certain moral rights:

The right to be identified as the author.

Right to object to derogatory treatment.

Most crafty peeps are honest and generous but it only takes for us to look the other way for the thieves to strike and it harms us all.

Off me soap-box now!





  1. you go girl your just right...Mo is such a generous person and I hate to see any sort of generosity be exploited...make it legal please
    Mina xxx

  2. Thanks for the warning. I never use these sites and never even knew they existed until now! I prefer to buy images/stamps myself so I know of their origin.

    I too am a lover of Mo Mannings images and really feel sad that someone has abused her trust, whether knowingly or not (they could have just asked if it was ok to share the link!

    Take care Ei and thanks cos I learnt a lot from your post.

    Sarah x

  3. Can't even imagine how people can do these kinds of things. I spend as much time keeping track of what comes from where and who as I do creating things so I can be sure to give credit where it's due. So sorry this happened to Mo, she's lovely and her work is just so exceptional. Thanks for posting this as a reminder to all. If you see an image on the free site that you know belongs to someone, let them know. eisey

  4. Ei-

    Your article is so AWESOME!(Glad you posted about it on Mo's group) Way to go...excellent reminder for everyone, not just digi-stamp crafters.

  5. Ei, I just wanted to thank you for helping spread the word (so eloquently!) about copyright.

    Putting my art on the internet where it could be so easily copied was a scary thing for me in the first place but lately I've been thinking with all the honest and web-savvy blog authors/crafters in my corner, we might even be able to make a difference for ALL artists by teaching the online community about copyright law.

    Thanks so much to you, Ei -- and to all others with fair hearts and eagle eyes! xoxoMo

  6. You're so welcome Mo - I'm so pleased you think it might make a difference.


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