Monday, February 24, 2014

Houston, We Have a Problem

This was a comment earlier today by Kim Gwin on the post previous to this (Thou Shalt Not Steal).

Our problem?  A small HANDFUL of very loud people - all "connected" to each other,  keep trying to shout over Stamp Out's message about copyright violations and thefts.  Their strategy is to spew hate to try to distract the conversation. 

Why?  To distract people from the issue, because it hits too close to home.  This is the same handful of people every time.  You'll see their names over and over again in the comments whenever Stamp Out is trying to have an important conversation about ethics and law for artists. So keep your tally sheet out.

In this particular case, it's Kim, who appears to have a good reason for trying to distract us.  She sells digital stamps with the "Scrapbook Stamp Society" -- stamps like this:

This penguin photo belongs to Capitol Pictures and its copyright restrictions are very clearly written HERE.  You would think that Kim would understand copyright restrictions, because she has written a bunch of them under "her" penguin stamp.

So let's try to keep the conversation on track.  This discussion needs to be OBJECTIVE.  It's easy to just let the pictures do the talking.  And it's useless to argue with the people who are trying to distract us from their own violations, and the violations of their friends.

Parties interested in copyright might like to look at the rest of the images in Kim Gwin's shop and see which ones might be based on copyrighted work.  If you find any you think are suspicious, email the original owner if you can to report the possible violation.

Here's a list of the top 10 reverse image search engines to help concerned artists and crafters find original source images and report violations -- let's help stamp out the "hate talk" and stick to the issue.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thou Shalt Not Steal

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, 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 we'll discuss:

Stamp Out

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mission: Expose the Copycat Bandits

Mo had a great idea yesterday... so the artists of Stamp Out decided to have some extra fun with the images from the “Owl the Same….or Not” blog hop. 

For the hop, we demonstrated how following a specific theme is not the same as copying, and now those same artists are showing that looking at someone else’s art and drawing from it is copyright infringement…even if you make some changes to the image and do not trace. (I think we all agree that tracing is copying.)

Mission Copycat: We randomly selected another artist’s drawing and used that image as a reference to create a new drawing. As an extra twist, one of the copycat drawings is done by a not-so-secret Copycat Bandit…someone who does not draw on a regular basis. (Thanks, Jak!!) She did such a great job! We all agreed that if she decided to be a criminal, she could go into the digital stamp business like other copycats, and she could successfully sell her “art” as stamps. 

Originality is what makes something art, and creating something original takes creativity and time. It was eye-opening to see how quickly the copied drawings could be completed--a fraction of the time an original piece takes, as quickly as 15 minutes in some cases. It is a lot less work to fill a store with images by copying the work of someone else…much easier than trying to provide a variety of images that are original.

Remember, our own Copycat Bandit (who does not draw for a living) was able to draw a nice illustration by copying. She proved for us how easy it is to go into business by being a copyright infringer. 

Now more FUN! See if you can guess who copied whom. There are prizes involved!! Everyone who guesses all of the copycats will have a chance to win a free digi or shop credit from the blog hop shops. 

Enter by sending an email to The email should have a list from 1-6 and you can fill in who you think did the copy. The copied images are numbered and on the right of the originals, see the graphic provided. Your choices are Mabelle, Faith, Lori, Mo, Jak, and Elizabeth. Have fun!!

Bonus entry: Share this blog post on Facebook or your blog and you also be entered into the contest, so you can enter twice! Leave a comment here to let us know you shared this post.

Contest closes, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013.
Update:The winners have been emailed! Elaine Lienhart, Deborah Deruyck, and Jeannie Sinclair are our winners!! Thank you for joining our contest!! 

Prizes: Stamp Out will choose 3 winners. Each winner will receive a digital stamp of their choice from all 6 artists!! Softpencil Studios (winner will get to sneak a peek at her new digi stamp store), By LORi Designs, Mo's Digital Pencil, Just Inklined, Whimsy and Stars Studio, and From the Heart Stamps.

Click on image for a better view.

You now have until Oct 17th to get all of the original Owl stamps for just $1 each, all proceeds going to Project C.U.R.E. The purchase of just one digi stamp provides $20 of medical supplies to developing countries.

Hop to see them all:
1. Mabelle Ramirez-Ortiz – Whimsy and Stars
2. Faith Skrdla – From The Heart Stamps
3. Lori Boyd – By LORi Designs
4. Mo Manning – Mo’s Digital Pencil
5. Jak Heath – Just Inklined
6. Elizabeth Pujalka – Soft Pencil

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Owl the Same...or Not" BLOG Hop Event

"Owl the Same...or Not"  BLOG Hop

Many of the members of Stamp Out will be participating in a blog hop on Monday and Tuesday, October 14th and 15th, starting at 5:00 am.  The artists will be designing images especially for this hop, using the theme of a small owl and a large owl perched on a fence on a "chilly" day.  It is our hope that we will illustrate to the crafting community how an image can have the same theme, yet show the unique interpretation of the illustrator.  We hope to show the difference between inspiration and imitation in doing so. 

The artists will all reveal their images at the blog hop for the first time.  During this two day event you may purchase each image for $1.00 and all proceeds will benefit Project Cure.

     Project C.U.R.E. was founded in 1987 to help bridge staggering health resource gaps in the developing world by matching medical supplies and modern equipment with facilities in need to empower doctors and nurses with the tools they need to treat disease, deliver vaccines, perform life-changing surgeries and ensure safe childbirth. Project C.U.R.E. operates distribution centers in Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Arizona and collects excess supplies and specialized equipment from hundreds of U.S. hospitals and medical manufacturers, giving them the opportunity to redirect their surplus in an environmentally-friendly way. Thanks to the dedication of thousands of volunteers nationwide, two to three cargo containers of life-saving aid leave Project C.U.R.E.'s warehouses every week. Today, Project C.U.R.E. is the world's largest distributor of donated medical supplies and equipment to healthcare facilities in resource-limited communities in 130 countries.

So stop by this blog on Monday morning and see what all the talented artists have to offer! Donate by purchasing a new image and see how each artist's creation is a totally unique and different from the next while still sharing a theme!

1. Mabelle Ramirez-Ortiz – Whimsy and Stars
2. Faith Skrdla – From The Heart Stamps
3. Lori Boyd – By LORi Designs
4. Mo Manning – Mo’s Digital Pencil
5. Jak Heath – Just Ink Lined
6. Elizabeth Pujalka – Soft Pencil

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Who is Tania Yorke? or Heather Prince? or Teresa Harwell

Who is Tania Yorke and Heather Prince and Teresa Harwell and why do they have so much unwatermarked copyrighted material pinned to their Pinterest boards?
These ladies could be anyone, they could be you or one of your crafting buddies or any other crafter who just don't have the facts.
Tanya has over 560 pins to her "Digi" board, most of them are not watermarked. In fact, some are the latest releases from Magnolia.   Magnolia stamps don't even come in "digi" format.  It clearly states those images were "uploaded by user".  But many of the other images are repins from other board.  So there are many crafters "sharing" images with the virtual world. 
Are they uneducated and not know this is wrong, or do they simply not care?  Is it "everyone else had them pinned so I thought it was okay" 
This type of sharing HAS to stop. It is ruining the businesses of many of our beloved stores and artists. In fact Teresa's board is entitled "Images to Color" so we know she has no intention of buying those stamps.  I know there are a lot of people who want to see this stopped.  How can you help?  Please report these pins to pinterest.  You can also leave a message under the image on pinterest letting the pinner know it is wrong to do this.  Please don't be cruel, just informative.
I also would like to say there are many other people beside these three ladies pinning images.  I simply used them as examples since they have pinned the latest Magnolia rubber stamps.  I am not saying they know they are violating copyright law, I am simply trying to point out how one person could spread so many images so fast, and thus kill the sales of many companies.
So lets all ban together in stopping this outrageous practice of pinning copyrighted images that have no watermarks.
I welcome all questions and comments,
Thanks, Michelle

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just a quick posting to say THANK YOU!

I have been blog hopping early this morning. And I just wanted to say... THANK YOU!!! I have seen some really awesome posts on public forums helping to explain copyrights and angel policies. I have also seen links back to the articles on this blog. It is people like this who help spread the word, and I wanted to let you know Stamp Out really appreciates that!
Have you been seeing this too?  Let us know where. I think these wonderful people should be recognized.  It is nice to have people doing the right thing and focusing on all the positives!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Angel Policies.... What are they all about?

It may be good to start out talking about what we are purchasing when we buy a rubber stamp or a digital stamp. When we buy a rubber stamp we are purchasing a limited license for personal use of the image on the stamp. We own the rubber, we own the block or cling foam it is on, but we do not own the image. The artist or company selling the stamp retains the ownership of the image. This is just like a CD; we own the material the CD is made out of, we do not own the song. Art, such as music, images, etc are intellectual property of their originators. When we purchase a digital image we are purchasing only the limited license to use that image personally.

An Angel Policy is a form of limited license that specifies ways in which a stamped image may be used. Angel policies were developed to allow crafters additional rights in use of rubber stamps and other crafting materials that are copyright protected. Angel policies are not all-inclusive. If a company has an "angel policy" that does not mean we can do whatever we wish with their image.

What does "Angel Policy" mean then? It means exactly what it says. So if it does not mention something, for example: swapping, sharing, trading, then the angel policy does not allow that. It may say we can sell a certain number of hand-made items using their image, but that in no way implies any other use. Perhaps that company may also allow swapping or sharing of their stamped image, but we would have to contact the artist/company for permission to do so.

Simply put, having an angel policy does not mean "YES" to swapping images. Well then, what does mean "YES" to swapping images? There are two ways to we can be sure we are allowed to swap a stamped image. One is by reading in the Terms of Use that we are given permission to do so, (or reading it in an Angel policy), the other way is by seeking permission from the artist/company who produced the image and retains the copyright.

It seems lately a lot of crafters are assuming if it doesn't say "NO" in the angel policy or terms of use, then it must mean you are allowed. This is absolutely NOT the case. So please contact the company and artist before assuming something that is not in print.

Thanks for reading, Michelle