Thou Shalt Not Steal

   Not a card today but a post on the Stamp Out Stamp Theft Wall of Shame that I felt compelled to share with my followers. I know this is a controversial issue but education is often a sure way to gain understanding so I am sharing the SOST post below.
   For those unaware, the Stamp Out Stamp Theft Facebook group is a closed group. Anyone can request to join and you can do so HERE.   The group is over 600 strong and is “dedicated to crafters and artists that are serious about combating the intellectual property rights violations that are so rampant in our field.” The group makes sure any possible infringements discussed are backed up with screenshots, links, or side by side images!  This group confronts those who not only copy the work of other artists and claim it as their own, but also deals with “pinners” on Pinterest and Facebook sites that illegally “share” digital images that are not “free” to share.
Stamp Out  The artists are very disgusted and sad. It is a wonder to me that they continue to produce such beautiful images for us!  I don’t know that I would want to continue if day after day I saw my hard work pinned and shared and copied all over the internet!  I am sure that is not what they had in mind when they sat down at the drawing table!
   Sadly a Wall of Shame was created as an outgrowth of Stamp Out Stamp Theft to expose those who after being shown side by side evidence of the copyrighted images against their images, and after being respectfully asked to remove the images in violation, continue to sell and/or misrepresent these images as their own original ideas and illustrations. Please read the entire post and view the side by side images. I urge you to share this link with other crafters.

(Posted 2-21-14)

“Thou Shalt Not Steal”(posted on the Stamp Out Stamp Theft Wall of Shame)

We all know how easy it is to be an artist, right? You just find something you like, copy it as best you can (maybe change a couple of details) and there you go. Um no.  WAIT!! Stop right there. Copying even parts of an image is copyright theft.

So . . . yet ANOTHER so called artist is ripping off Saturated Canary illustrator/owner Krista Smith, whose original work you can see in her shop.  ANOTHER “wanna-be” who fancies herself an artist has tried to jump into the business of selling art without taking care of two very important prerequisites FIRST:

1. Understanding copyright law

2. Knowing how to draw her own ORIGINAL work

  This time it’s a woman named Francesca Lopez. Stamp Out has been communicating with her and her husband for several days, wanting to get this taken care of quickly and civilly by explaining why it is illegal — a federal crime in fact — to copy another artist’s work. We have attempted to educate both Lopez’s on the facts, by showing them these side by side samples which should be instant proof for anyone one with eyes that Francesca is COPYING, and by directing them to some of the important info on copyright law and “substantial similarity” you can find by simply searching.


We also encouraged them to talk to some IP lawyers THEMSELVES so they could be informed by a neutral third party, since they refuse to listen to us. Instead the absurdly irrelevant clippings they have posted on Francesca’s blog about copyright indicate they don’t have even the simplest understanding of how original artwork is protected by the law. (Scroll down past the Bible quotes.)

Here’s another example of a highly questionable drawing that is very like a well known Precious Moments illustration.  It this one, it appears the angel’s head has been put on the bed boy’s body — then the bed flipped and small details changed. 

From “The illustrated Story of Copyright” by Edward Samuels, copyright 2000:

“The issue in these cases is whether the second work is “substantially similar” to the first. It doesn’t have to be an exact duplicate to be an infringement, but it does have to take enough of the copyrighted work that it can be said that the second work was not “independently created.” Drawing the line between noninfringement and infringement, between independent creation and substantial similarity, can be frustratingly difficult. The courts have pretty well refused to adopt a simple numerical test to resolve this issue, instead relying upon general statements of policy, and sensitivity to the facts of particular cases. What is clear, however, is that taking even a small portion of a copyrighted work can constitute copyright infringement.”

(Search “Striking Similarity” or Substantial Similarity” to find more information about this online)

And another taking legs, feet and theme and pose directly from a Magnolia image.  While it is PERFECTLY FINE to draw using the same theme (ideas are not copyrightable), and poses may be really similar just by coincidence, this particular image is obviously NOT coincidence as the legs, pants and feet are nearly traced they are so exact.

Of course, besides this being illegal, it’s also immoral. Besides theft, it’s cheating and lies — things that good people try to avoid.  Francesca and her husband, self-appointed “Senior Pastor” Art Lopez have their own Shekinah Fellowship Church in southern California.  Seeing that, we tried to appeal to their morality by encouraging them to be honest, accept responsibility and suggested Art to counsel his wife to do what is right on this LEGAL matter.

Obviously, communication has failed with this pair. They have closed or disallowed all private talk with them — so here we go. Wall of Shame.

Please BEWARE of “Cute as a Button/Buttin” owners Francesca and Art Lopez in all their iffy endeavors. (They are particularly marketing toward Christians as you can see.) 

Any questions about about this aspect of copyright, please ask in the comments and I can bring your concerns to the group or please join the facebook group discussion.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Unknown

    Great Job ANN… i hope the message gets out there!!! I will share on my Facebook 🙂

    Hugz Donna

  2. While I totally agree with this groups principle I would be careful, as an artist myself, of some of the tactics this group has used in the past. Rather than allowing artists a right to reply this group shuts artist out who are caught up in the furore and things are never as black n white as they seem. Let's all be sensible & not hound people without knowing the facts. I have been a victim of outright copying myself & undoubtedly sharing of my artwork so do agree like I say in the principle of the law but let's deal with it in a balanced way & discuss it with those involved before publicly slandering individuals, which is also covered by the law.

  3. Marilou

    Thanks for posting this and making it available to post to our own blogs, etc. xo

  4. Thanks Jo for your response. To clarify, "this group" has never used any tactics that were questionable,but do work alongside and for professional illustrators whose work is stolen or copied by those who do not understand the artist's rights under the law. Again, we welcome you to the FB page to join in the discussion.

  5. Sande

    It never ceases to amaze me how low some people will go. I think the issue is that a great deal of these artists that sell their work online either fail to put a watermark on them or set their website or blog to no right click. I've tested quite a few though I would never stoop so low as to steal someone's work or images.

    Then you have those that will spend hours removing a watermark. Case in point I reported four ladies from the UK for copyright infringement on Pinterest. Between them they had over 7,000 illegal "digi" images from Magnolia Stamps. All the watermarks had been removed. One of them also had Saturated Canary which I reported. A week later and they still are not taken down. I also contacted both companies. Then those of us who create cards with these images wonder why are favorite companies are leaving in droves. I know I wouldn't want to keep producing if my work was being stolen everyday.

    And some of the blame does fall on the artists. Yes, digi's are fantastic. Within seconds we can have a copy of our favorite image, without having to leave the comfort of our home or the computer chair for the matter. Instant gratification and a instant sale. No shipping, no packing and no waiting. The digi day and age has brought this upon the artist and maybe for them doing away with them might be the only best choice. Offer stamps only. No, it won't stop the issue completely as someone could stamp off the image and upload it to Facebook or Pinterest.

    The one thing these artists especially new ones need to know if by simply putting a copyright statement on the blog/website does not give them any legal rights in court. You have to have proof, dated. Even if you do a poor man's copyright of putting the creation in a envelope with a dated letter of design, mail it to yourself and never open it unless you need to take someone to a lawyer or court over it. The judge will consider that proper copyright.

    And in addition to the artists being somewhat responsible social media is playing such a huge part in this thief. With all the technology, software and programs available I don't see why Facebook or Pinterest can't have their sites set that can detect when a member is trying to upload images that have been reported for copyright infringement. Say I attempt to upload a illegal image from Magnolia, why can't a program be set to detect that and not allow it be uploaded. I've seen it on other sites. I would hate to see all these companies we love disappear. Nice job with the Facebook group…don't have a Facebook or I would join.

  6. Sande, you make some great points. But seeing what has happened to Magnolia now (with all their rubber images being made illegally into digital images and passed around on Pinterest) actually makes me more nervous about my images that have been made into rubber, than the ones I sell in my digital shop.

    Most of the images of mine that are floating around on Pinterest are from my Stamping Bella rubber collection — high rez images that were supposed to go in a print catalog only were distributed by Notions to all the shops that buy from them. This has harmed my business GREATLY. I can't seem to get the images removed — they are taken down due to my reports and days later they all pop up again via another shop like Hancock Fabrics or Overstock. (I tried to sue Notions for handing out my unwatermarked images and thousands of dollars later, ran out of money before I could bring them to court!!) Very depressing. I am still fighting, but I know a lot of my artist friends have nearly given up — which is why we try through Stamp Out to help each other through these tough issues.

    I believe that the ONLY thing that's going to help is if/when the government passes a bill (they are discussing it now) where artists will be able to bring violators to "copyright small claim court." That will allow us to get up to $30,000.00 per violation from infringers whether they be a crafter sharing our images illegally — or another artist copying our work. Sadly, I don't think people are going to stop until someone gets punished.



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