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sheilaleigh Sheila Leigh
Lincoln, Nebraska
Posts: 299

Hi everybody,

I know that I havn't posted for a long time now.  I've been busy making vintage style paper christmas ornaments. I had so much fun creating digital art with Shelli's challenges that last summer in 2010, I made some digital collage images and have sold a few on ETSY. I haven't been making new images for almost a year now. But a few sell once in a while on etsy.  I just sell them for fun. I'm disabled and can't work.

My problem this evening is that a lady who sells digital images on etsy wrote me 10 nasty emails stating that these are her images and that I need to pay her the profit that I've earn from selling them or she will sue me.  I don't know how to respond to her. I have created all my collage sheet & images from bits and pieces of free images online. Some from dover publications and some from free images from public libraries. I've tried to respect copyright issues so I use free images. What do I do? Is she allowed to treat me this way?

Here is one of her emails to me:

I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that this was done in error. I will settle for removal of all sheets with my images and payment for the items sold. Copyright laws are very clear and if you do not comply then I will pursue this in court and for much more than just the profits you have made. After looking through your sold you owe me $24.43 and you can send it to alteredartifacts@gmail.com
Inka

Stuffed Lincolnshire
Posts: 45

Were they marked as hers? It seems awfully harsh that she's trying to take your money over something that's actually just a mistake. If they're in no way marked as hers then you can't be expected to pay her, ask for evidence of her copyright.

Free images are generally OK just to use and since they're in the public domain then you ought to be free to use them; are they stock photo-type materials?

Some websites have their own rules/levels of strictness about copyright, but if those images were hosted by Dover publications for people to use and indeed potentially sell, then she has no right to 'sue' you or demand money. This email thing has 'scam' written all over it.

You can contact their rights people via this rights@doverpublications.com but it DOES seem to suggest that it's property of Dover publications and not this lady.

Gabriele~GJOYfulBears GJOYful Bears
Posts: 511
Website

Be careful ~ this person may not even be genuine. If she's not genuine and she's done this before, imagine all the people who've given in and sent her the payments she demanded ~ she'd make a lot of money. A LOT of money. Investigate this further before sending her any payments or doing anything drastic.

Please let us know how you go, hopefully it all works out well for you and things get sorted without court action being taken.

Us Bears Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,477

A lawyer costs $200 per hour.  She'll never recover enough money from this case to even cover the costs.
Just pull the images off your website then ignore the b*tch.

KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

This is what I use in my certificates. You can use this, too.

This original work of art is in no sense a copy, reproduction or duplicate of any previous work of art. It represents my own original creative expression. It exists in this unique state only. This work may not be copied or reproduced in anyway without the written permission of the artist.

She probably uses some of the copyright free images, too, and feels she is entitled to them. You have just as much right to use the images as she does and I would just ignore her and continue with your designs. Don't back down, it will only make her feel entitled. Just ignore her. If she's stubborn enough to talk to a lawyer she will soon find out she is wrong in her allegations.
Karen
KJ Lyons Design

rowarrior The Littlest Thistle
Glasgow
Posts: 6,212

The problem is that just because a picture is on the web it is NOT free to use, just like music online is not free to download etc - that's rather like saying that you can take things out of a shop because they're on display there and everyone can see them!  If she can prove she has the original art, then she has every right to ask you to remove them as it is her copyright you are breaking.  Look very carefully at your initial images you are using and check to see if they are indeed copyright free.  Many places have clip art etc that you can use for personal use, eg for your own display at home, or perhaps a church/club newsletter, but you cannot make profit from them.  I imagine she's rather fed up of chasing these things all over the web (and you can do that using tineye), hence the stroppy e-mails, but it really isn't worth fighting unless you have absolute and utter proof that she doesn't have the copyright in the first place.  Take the items down, look extra carefully at everything else so you don't have the same issues again, and carry on.

desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,394
Website

I do believe the year of anything copyrighted becoming public domain is 1927.  So if they are newer than that someone owns the rights.

Joanne

ArtHeart Kran-Beary's
Thunder Bay ON Canada
Posts: 318
Website

A copyright exists automatically on artistic works, so if the author of the email actually created the artwork, then she does in fact own the copyright. Copyright lasts for 50 years. After that, the rights are transferred to the person's estate. An extension can be granted. If none exists and the estate is disbanded, the copyright will then go into the public domain.   

Simply because something exists on the internet does not mean that it's free to use.   When an artist does give permission to use their art, it's called licensing.  This usually means that some form of royalty (payment) is paid to the artist upon the sale of each item.   This can range from a few cents to a percentage and is laid out in a licensing agreement.   

Some websites will allow the royalty free use of their images. You'll need to read their user terms to ensure you are complying with their free licensing agreement.  Online libraries of images however... you must be careful here as many of these images are themselves just used from the internet. You might find something about copyright in their user terms as well, and you may find that some of these sites are not well policed. As a result many copyrighted images may appear in them.

Stock photo houses often have many free images available, and others that you can purchase for a very minimal fee (less than a dollar.)  Again read the user terms...you can't use the images for porn and other restrictions may apply.  istock,  shutterstock and dreamstime are some of the best known stock sites.


Your email demands all your profits. That she cannot do. She can ask you to remove the infringing items from your site. She can pursue a genuine copyright infringement by law suit, but this is expensive to do. 

Hope this helps!
hugs,
nancy t

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

Thx Nancy, The Canadian timing seems to be similar to the US; this is the length of a Copyright in the US -

1. Works written(danced/played/performed/painted) published/etc... from 1909 through 1921.
The initial copyrighted term of the work was 28 years from the date of publication. If the copyright was renewed during the 28th year, the copyright was extended for an additional 28-year period.
2. Works published from 1922 through 1963.
The initial copyrighted term of the work was 28 years from the date of publication. If the copyright was renewed during the 28th year, the copyright was extended for an additional 67-year period.
3. Works published from 1964 through 1978.
The initial copyrighted term of the work was 28 years from the date of publication, with an automatic renewal of an additional 67 years.
4. Works created on or after January 1, 1978.
The following rules apply to published and unpublished works:

For one author, the work is copyright-protected for the life of the author plus 70 years.

For joint authors, the work is protected for the life of the surviving author plus 70 years.

For works made for hire, the work is protected for 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation, whichever is less.

For anonymous and pseudonymous works, the work is protected for 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation, whichever is less.
However, if the author's name is disclosed to the U.S. Copyright Office, the work is protected for the life of the author plus 70 years.

KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

I think we are off point, here?

Sheila ~'I have created all my collage sheet & images from bits and pieces of free images online. Some from dover publications and some from free images from public libraries. I've tried to respect copyright issues so I use free images. What do I do? Is she allowed to treat me this way?'

These images are free to use for any purpose  bear_thumb  If that wasn't the case, none of us would be able to use the Alice in Wonderland images or almost any other classic Nursery Rhyme story book character.

Karen

sheilaleigh Sheila Leigh
Lincoln, Nebraska
Posts: 299

Thank you everyone for your support. And thank you Karen for making me feel much better. That lady emailed me again today with a huge threat of handing over my contact information to a lawyer. What contact information? My shop name? I don't understand how she can say that my images are hers. I used old photos of little girls and kittens and placed wings on them. Does she think she has the right to placing wings on little girls? I don't understand what she is thinking. The concept of placing wings on little girls is every where you look. Fairies have been around for centuries. I wrote ETSY and they told me to ask her to stop emailing me. I haven't wrote her back yet cause I don't know what to say to her. 

Hugs, Sheila

Here is what she wrote to me today:

If I don't hear from you soon I will be handing over your contact information to my lawyer. You may think that these are vintage images however my artwork has been created with vintage images and have been changed the percentage to qualify for there own copyright. On most I have major changes for instance, I have used a person from one image a background from another, changed faces, changed colors, changed clothing, bodies, arms and legs. Many hours have gone into producing them, these images are my own and I do maintain my copyright rights. If I let you get away with it then others will see and think they can. Therefor I do intend to take legal action if you do not remove them and pay me for what you have earned from them. I am offering a very reasonable settlement since I can prove they are my images and would win much more in court.
Inka

Densteds Densteds
Posts: 2,056
Website

Hi Sheila,  just  tell that stupid cow to stick her fairies up her jumper!

rkr4cds Creative Design Studio (RKR4CDS)
suburban Chicago
Posts: 2,044

my artwork has been created with vintage images and have been changed the percentage to qualify for there own copyright. On most I have major changes for instance, I have used a person from one image a background from another, changed faces, changed colors, changed clothing, bodies, arms and legs. Many hours have gone into producing them,

This is a major 'telling' quote which is a statement that doesn't hold up to the standard of 'original' authorship.

She is guilty of Plagiarism: there is NO amount of 'changing' any other person's or persons' work which one can do and then still be able to call it one's own work.
I did sense something off here and her further statements have finally brought out the truth.
I suspect that if she shows this to her attorney, she will have spent her money needlessly, as they will tell her she has no case.

these images are my own and I do maintain my copyright rights.

Perhaps you could ask her where did she originally get her images but online - and didn't she do the same thing that she's now accusing you of?
Only images which she drew, painted or photographed herself would be her own work.
The ones with the guilty consciences tend to stamp their foot the hardest.
I wouldn't bother to respond to her. Wait until you've heard any real further responses or communications from her.....

Gabriele~GJOYfulBears GJOYful Bears
Posts: 511
Website

This lady obviously is persistent..... in a way it's kind of amusing. I create sketch art and paint/draw pictures of people's pets for them all the time and often find them online with eyes or fur changed or something..... it's annoying but just because they changed eye colour of a dog does not mean that the image is now theirs and I never drew it lol.

Ignore her until, as Bobbie said, you get REAL proof that their her images etc. She's just trying to scare you I think.

KJ Lyons KJ Lyons Design
Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,413
Website

OK
'If I don't hear from you soon I will be handing over your contact information to my lawyer. You may think that these are vintage images however my artwork has been created with vintage images and have been changed the percentage to qualify for there own copyright.'

Sounds like she is trying to say that she owns these vintage images because she has used them in her artwork. As long as you are only using the original vintage images, she has nothing. Just ignore her. Again, you have just as much right to these images as any other artist.
Karen

Carlyle Bear Co. Carlyle Bear Co.
decatur, tn
Posts: 492

:crackup: Love Denise's advice on this.  That is exactly how I would handle it too.  Chin up! :hug:

lapousmor Sophie Z'Ours
Sarthe, France
Posts: 2,770
Website

Does not look like she is to be trusted.

Did she give you something to prove the pictures are hers? I mean serious proof, other than just her words? If not, just ignore her. By trying to have you answer, she might expect to manage to get more informations of your identity and might use them against you just to annoy you more.

If I were you, I would set my mailbox in order as it would block all her emails. that way, end of troubles!!!!

Good luck and take it easy!
Beary hugs,
Sophie.

amber Honey Valley Bears
Toronto
Posts: 210

I too love Denise Reply to this.  Perfect.  And I agree with Bobbie.  Just because she took other peoples artwork and cut and paste it together to make her own doesn't mean she really owns it.  She took someone elses work and has done the exact same thing that she is claiming you have done.  All she has done has altered someone elses work to make it hers. Well to claim it is hers after hours of work from something she didn't own.  So tell her to shove it where the sun doesn't shine.  Keep that email where she tells you how she put the images together and to go ahead and call her lawyer, you have proof with her email that she has done the same thing to others and maybe the other people should all be contacted and informed of her stealing their work and she should have to pay all of them for everything she has sold from it.

Them tell her to shove off before you send her information to the police for harassment and running a scam.

Then just ignore her.

karenaus Melbourne
Posts: 694
Website

Have you replied to her that you used free images from the web and Dover images? I was also wondering if you had double checked that you didn't inadvertently use any of her (unaltered original) images she offers on her blog? I notice she has pretty defined and strict terms of use. I often save these free graphics then can never remember where I got them from, so I doubt I'll ever use any if I ever get round to learning photoshop, as I'll be too afraid someone will come after me like this person has bear_grin
   
    I personally love Denises reply  bear_grin tho I know that if someone had emailed me in such a confrontational way, I'd be feeling quite intimidated even if I knew I was in the right. It amuses me when people claim copyright over vintage images or other things based on other people's work, just because they happened to scan it onto their computer. the things she offers for sale are cute but most are just things she must have purchased and scanned, maybe that's legally right but morally, on very thin ice, specially when you start demanding someone's profit.

sheilaleigh Sheila Leigh
Lincoln, Nebraska
Posts: 299

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for taking the time to give me your advice and for your quick wit! I haven't contacted her or even looked at her ETSY shop. I don't have anything to worry about, she can have her little temper tantrum! I did contact ETSY and they said that if she contacts me again, they will block her convos for me.

It's actually really funny! She states that she has my contact information but she hasn't even called me by my name in any of her emails. She's just trying to scare me! I'm not scared of her!

If I have any new emails from her again, I'll post them so that you guys can have a good laugh!

hugs,
Sheila

smdogs gone to the dogs/sm dog designs
Kansas City Missouri
Posts: 234
Website

Hi,
  It looks to me like what she has IS NOT her origianl art. I know for a fact that the vintage Halloween postcards copies that she has are not hers at all some are free out there on the web for anyone to use. They being vintage (old) it was before copyright laws.

I would just ignore her emails. She is full of ---------!!!!!!!

sheryl

sheilaleigh Sheila Leigh
Lincoln, Nebraska
Posts: 299

Hi everyone,

The Etsy seller, AlteredArtifacts contacted me again, so I did as Etsy advised me to do. I asked her not to contact me any more. So what do you suppose she did? She emailed me back. She wrote me 11 emails total. Etsy emailed me and said that they blocked her from contacting me. Yay! But her last email states that she filed a copyright complaint to Etsy and she will contact her lawyer. Geesh! She has a huge mental problem!

Thanks for all your support!
hugs,
Sheila

Little Bear Guy Little Bear Guy
Waterloo, Ontario
Posts: 1,395

Sheila,

Make sure you keep copies of all the emails that she sent you, just in case. Those emails already prove that the work is not her's so just in case you run into issues' with Etsy you can show them those emails where she already admitted she used other pics not done by .

hugs

Shane

bearlady13 Posts: 177

Question How would I go about finding out if anyone else has a copyright on teddy bear with cleavage?  I made a bear with a large bust for a teacher bear for my daughter and wondered how to copyright it.

desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,394
Website
bearlady13 wrote:

Question How would I go about finding out if anyone else has a copyright on teddy bear with cleavage?  I made a bear with a large bust for a teacher bear for my daughter and wondered how to copyright it.

I have seen other bears with cleavage.  I doubt it has been copyrighted.

I do think that this is a scary thing though that you have posted here.  If we start to copyright elements of a teddy bear, there will be nothing left for artists to be able to grow into and experiment with.  We will have to worry about trying new techniques in fear that we are breaking laws.  It would make the artist bear industry very stagnant I am afraid.

Joanne

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