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Link: Copyrights and Wrongs.

I highly recommend reading the above link–more excellent discussion! 

I greatly appreciate those of you that have taken time to comment, share insights, perspectives and experiences.

Someone emailed me privately to ask a particular question regarding CASEing and using such CASEs at workshops or for classroom instruction.  For those unfamiliar with the term "CASE", it is the acronym for "Copy And Steal Everything", or "Copy And Share Everything".

In all honesty, I’m not a proponent of CASEing another’s work for anything beyond personal use. 

Personal use would be defined by the following examples:

Copying someone else’s design to make a card to give your gramma on her birthday.

Copying someone else’s design in order to learn and expand your skills.

If you are an instructor, and wish to use one of my uploaded designs to teach others, I do prefer to be asked for permission, and if granted, that full credit for the design be included.   If it is used by another for instructional purposes, that individual stands to gain financially for using it (class fees, income from product sold based on the sample), yet I am the one that invested the skill, time, and resources into its creation.

Given that, it hardly seems fair that another should use my intellectual property for such gain, without so much as asking permission, wouldn’t you agree?

In all seriousness, I genuinely wish more folks would try looking at it from this standpoint (those who have known me for a long time, already know full well the analogy that’s coming):

Would it bother you if I spotted your car in your driveway, or on the street, and assumed that, because it was in my line of sight, you would be happy to "share" it with me–to take on a drive around town, to run errands, etc., using fuel you paid for out of your pocket?  And, without me asking permission?

If I didn’t buy the car/don’t own the car, why should I feel I am entitled to use it, simply because I see it parked on the street?

How is the car any different from something someone has put their thought, their time, and their resources into creating?  From where I stand, intellectual property is every bit as valid, and valuable, as physical property!

I’m prolly preachin’ to the choir, here, based on the comments that have come in . . . because, YESSSSSSS!!!!!  *YOU* get it!  It is so encouraging and uplifting to know you are out there, and that you do!

MadameCraftyPants, I do agree, in part, that we have had a hand in creating the monster by giving too much, too freely . . . and, I would agree that it is indeed not a subject openly discussed in our crafting communities!

Interesting enough, when creative professionals have tried to stand up in defense of intellectual property rights, they have been accused of being "unwilling to share" . . . I think the definition of the term "share" has been stretched well beyond what it should–to the point of some folks feeling justified in dismissing the perspective of creative professionals within the industry and how it impacts their ability to earn an income, doing work they love . . .

I’m so glad not to be alone on that soap box . . . (wink!)

18 Comments
  1. My ex-DH and still-friend is a legal beagle…he says we are wasting our time thinking our creative projects are protected. They must be registered/and/or/copyrighted before we have any control. End of legal discussion. Have you looked into the cost of copyrighting anything lately, especially in Canada? Plagiarism only applies to written documents; paintings are in a legal realm of their own.

  2. I agree with Gwen and Nicole, the car anaology just doesnt hold water with me, there are just too many holes in it. In fact there are just too many absolutes in this whole debate in my opinion. I’ve been following this type of discussion for months on SCS and the arguments are just too black and white to be reasonable. I totally understand that those who create something great are proud of their work and want the credit for what they’ve done but this is not always possible and leaves no room for those who make an error in judegment, do not know the ‘rules’ or are otherwise informed. Over on SCS the ‘rules’ for caseing on some of the challenges are posted and tell us that 2 or more things must be changed for a CASE to ‘qualify’. Yet those who do this outside of the challenge forums are still ‘challenged’ that their work isnt theirs because it was still ‘obvious’ that it was taken from someone else.

    Julie, you and others who champion the cause of no or limited CASEing speak on how unfair it is that someone should take and use your work after you were the one who poured yourself, time and supplies into the finished product. I can understand that but there is another side. Now, I’ll pose to you a moral question on the other side of this discussion. What if a stamper was hired to create samples for a company, based on her own merrit, creativity and credibility with said company? She was given supplies and a deadline and faithfully fulfilled her bargain, working diligently, doing her own work and even finished earlier than the deadline. Then lets say she was given an additional last minute project that was due at the same time as the others (regardless of prior obligations, family or illness) if she expected to be compensated for her time and effort. So she does her best to fulfill the final, though unfair, portion of her obligation, feeling the need to keep her standards as high with this part of the project as she did with the original part. The pressure begins to crush her though along with those other thing in her life pressing in and as the bell begins to toll to signal the last moments until the deadline, she heads to the internet for some last minute help. She quickly finds a project from a stamper with a style equivilent to her own and uses her card as a basis for her last project due to the company. It was not a copy, she followed the ‘change 2 things or more rule’ even then, before there was such a rule. She felt a pang of guilt about not being able to credit the stamper but since she too was not to be credited for this work, she had no other choice…it was this or loose her compensation for all of her previous ORIGINAL work. Now as you can probably guess, this senario actually happened to a friend of mine. She did what she had to and went back to creating just like she had always done before. Then almost a year later, through a fluke my friend had no knowledge of, the project mentioned above was observed by the ‘original artist’ who proceeded to call her on the carpet, both publicly and privately for her ‘error’. My friend apologised, explained and assured said artist of her original situation but the artist held a similar black and white view to the one posted here and on SCS and my friend has since been ‘blackballed’ in this community. Now I ask you, is it morally right to punish this poor woman who made one error in judgement? Someone who is VERY TALENTED in her own right yet goes unnoticed and unappreciated because the ‘stamping elite’ deemed her immoral for what she had done? What of the new stamper who learns and grows into an artist of great merrit after having CASEd many cards as she learned and observed from others? This issue is NOT black and white and it is my opinion that a few hours of creative time and supplies lost does not equal the emotional loss my friend suffered by being caught up in this debate.

  3. I totally agree with Gwen. I didn’t much think the car analogy was relevant and honestly, didn’t make any sense. It is so NOT the same thing. I said this before and will say it again…Apparently there are two separate thread sabout this going on with this blog….It is reasonable to assume (legal talk) that someone will like and copy something you post on your web. If you don’t want them copying it, then don’t post it. There are bigger things in life to stress over than someone copying your art work. I also mentioned that is is quite impossible to copy something exactly so, I really think that there are some major issues going on if you are so worried about someone copying what you did. And if they did, how in the world are oyu going to know they copied you unless you see it. The chances of knowing all the folks who copied your work is sadly slim to none! Guys, just let this go. Don’t share if you are worried people will copy. Get out of the business if you can’t play nice and share. And for goodness sakes, stop posting your work on a web for all to see if you don’t want people to copy it. You should be thankful they like your work enough to copy. I would be way more flattered than bent so far out of shape to make such a big deal on my blog about it! JMHO!!!

  4. I let my husband read your article and as a research scientist he deals with intellectual property, copyrights, trademarks and patent rights daily. He stated ” she has missed the point on what intellectual property is. A car is not intellectual property and the analagy is not valid, the analagy is simply grand theft auto (wink)” As a designer for a company, said company normally has all rights to your designs, unless another contract has been signed, this I learned in business law. What I dont understand is why someone shares their creations if they dont want anyone using their ideas? Giving credit is a must, with that I agree, but sharing designs then saying you can look but that is all you can do just defeats the purpose. Having someone copy your work in any form is one of the highest forms of compliments. Normally a copyright is really no good until it is challenged in court anyhow, and that is a quote from my business law professor who is also a judge.
    jmho also-

  5. Hi Julie~Great discussion. This issue is easier if a storefront is involved. Paper crafters would likely reproduce items/concepts taught in classes at a shop but in return they have paid for the class (and hence the instructor/artist) and would likely continue to purchase materials from the shop. That provides some income for sharing of skills. Creative Heart in OH is a good example of selling materials, ideas, concepts,and instruction…and hopefully they are profitable because we love having them as a resource.
    A free lance artist with a blog who shares freely will always be copied..especially if her work is unique. I think one answer is to share your art but make your blog subscription only…also the idea of downloading instruction for a card, tag, art book, etc. for a fee might have traction. We pay to download tunes for our IPods so why not art instruction. The industry has developed for years without this kind of discussion and backtracking is hard.
    I will always be a home crafter with no aspirations to be a paper arts professional and I have loved the generous nature of the crafters who freely share their ideas…however, I respect those who, like yourself, are professionals and I would certainly subscribe to your blog and would pay a fee to download the details of an item I wanted to replicate. This will be an ongoing issue that artists themselves will have to solve by the way in which they choose to present their art to the public. Protect yourself and your time however you can…and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. Best regards~Barb

  6. This brings up such a controversial subject… one I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently. I have to say that I was very glad to see what Sarah Moore wrote above… because a few weeks ago something similar happened to me. I had posted a blog entry and included a picture of a card I had made. That same night I was browsing the gallery on SCS and I saw an almost exact replica! Different colors and paper… but the same layout and stamp set. And I KNOW I did not CASE this card… I had never seen it until that night. I ended up removing the post because I did not want to be accused of something I did not do. For all I know I was CASED, but who’s to say? How do you approach the subject… and then prove it if you believe it to be true. Now I don’t for a minute believe someone stole my idea in the few hours it was posted, but it does present an interesting scenario.

    With all the cards being made these days, and all the blogs & galleries… aren’t we eventually going to unknowingly create a card… think it’s our own, only to later find another just like it?

    I always give credit when I have been inspired by someone. I believe it’s the fair thing to do when you knowingly “borrow” another persons ideas and creations. I agree with everything you said Julie… but what a mind blowing subject!

    BTW… I love your blog and all your originals, and appreciate you taking the time to share them with us!

  7. I’m curious: what do you consider a copyright violation in terms of a card design? It’s really confusing! For example, one of the a muse stampers did a Harry Potter card using the graduation scroll and owl. I was already making Harry Potter inspired cards and trading cards before I saw that, but I loved the idea, and would like to take that idea a step further and have one of my owls carrying a real scroll. It wouldn’t be a duplicate of her card or anything like that, but I did get the idea from her. Would that be stealing her work though? Would it be enough to say “inspired by?” In my case, I can look back through my bookmarks to find the artist because I read her blog, but what about when you take one idea from a card, and don’t remember the artist?

    There are books with what they call recipes like place an image in the center and sentiment to the bottom left, and so forth. I don’t tend to think of any of these as examples that many people couldn’t have come up with on there own. I’ve also heard people complain that someone lifted their idea for a design that I’d already seen done on a Hallmark card, so unless a copy is an exact duplicate I’m not sure where you draw the line.

    It’s also confusing when a type of image or card becomes really popular. Several stamping companies have had really similar stamps when trying to fit into the latest trend. It’s hard to say who brought out an image first, and certainly similar stamps (especially when it comes to sayings) aren’t necessarily someone stealing an idea from another. For example, you once mentioned that an Inkadinkadoo stamp was way too similar to an a muse one. (Hope I’m remember the names right!) On the other hand, one of the a muse fourth of July stamps was super similar to one which had been released a year earlier by The Cat’s Pajamas. I don’t think either case is necessarily stealing, but instead artists coming up with very similar ideas. At least I hope so!

    Thank you for reading my muddled thoughts!

  8. I really appreciate your points Julie, and you are probably much more creative than I am. But I do stand on the other side of this issue. I do not usually CASE except to get my creative juices flowing. And if I do, I try always to give full credit. That being said, if anyone ever wants to copy my ideas – go for it. If they had to ask my permission every time – I go nuts trying to respond. Art is beauty and I hope that as many out there as possible can share in that. I do sell a lot of my handmade cards and projects, and I don’t think anyone copying them has taken that away from me. I just love that fact that some many are willing to share and give, without expecting anything back in return. But I do respect your view on this. Thanks!

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