cop·y·cat by Harriete Estel Berman
Editor’s note: We orginally published this article in May 2016. But it is a hot topic once again in our community so we are bumping it up on our site for a re-read!
-denoting an action, typically a crime, carried out in imitation of another.
“No one likes a copycat”….in fact I’d rather the word was stronger when it comes to artists stealing ideas from artists. Last week we posted a video on FaceBook that started a lot of conversations. Which is EXCELLENT! What a wonderful use of technology to have artists all over the world talking! But will things really change? Will you stop seeing derivatives of artists’ work? “If you copy someone’s else, that is a derivative work. It doesn’t belong in a gallery or showcase and it should not be published anywhere—this includes your website and all social media.” -Sean McCabe (quote from video)
California artist Harriete Estel Berman has written extensively on the topic of copyrights and copycats on her blog: Ask Harriete. “The issues are serious. By our silence, we in the arts and crafts community are cultivating a climate of copycats. Bringing this issue into the open is not going to be popular, but the undercurrents are eroding our economic, ethical and legal boundaries.”
Here are some links to select articles by Harriete. Be an informed artist!
40 COPYCAT THIEVES that have been seen
Until awareness gains traction in every “craft corner”, workshop, retail fair, wholesale show, online forum, manufacturer, retailer, designer, internet site, and becomes a public discussion, the copycat thieves will continue as pirates of our work, our ideas, and our content.In the “Age of the Internet” and digital technologies we can no longer go back to the studio and come up with the next idea fast enough. Ideas and images are stolen at the speed of light.
- Are you prepared to protect your work?
- Do you understand the concepts of Fair Use under Copyright Law?
- Do you understand DMCA
The Guild Guilt of Unauthorized Sharing
AFTER my lectureThe GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the Age of the Internet, many people have responded. Views of the lecture continue grow. Dialog and discussion continues about many topics…..but, …..
But there is a situation that I didn’t consider, didn’t even think about… until it was brought to my attention after the lecture… “The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing.”
Here are the examples:
- A guild member takes a workshop, then comes home to show everyone else the workshop’s techniques, tips and tricks.
- Guild members distributing copies of handouts that they did not create or own.
- A member demos a skill learned in a magazine tutorial.
- A guild hires a copycat workshop instructor instead of hiring the original innovator of a skill or technique.
Ironically, all this sharing is usually rationalized as “helping” each other. But with some reflection, this “feel good” cloak of generosity is concealing ethical, legal and moral issues that, in the long run, have an impact on our community.
I Love Your Work and Want to Make One for Myself
There are rampant versions of copycats within the arts and crafts community. Some are cloaked in naiveté, admiration and enthusiasm.The problems are multi-faceted. One of the problems is that the copycats don’t realize they are stealing from the professionals they most admire.
Purchase of an Object versus Purchase of the Copyright or Right to Copy
Has anyone ever purchased your art or craft work and then started copying the original? I’ve seen this issue discussed online. Or people write to me when they find out about unauthorized copies of their work, especially when other people are profiting from their designs. The situation is frustrating and nearly impossible to stop – once it is out of control.
Harriete Estel Berman creates jewelry, sculpture, Judaica & installations from recycled materials https://harrieteestelberman.com/ and author of the Professional Guidelines https://harrieteestelberman.com/professional-guidelines/Find Harriete online: http://askharriete.typepad.com/