Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Earlier this week, I had the (un)fortunate experience of dealing with copyright infringement mumbo jumbo. (Fortunate & unfortunate because while it did happen [booo!!], I definitely learned a great deal [yaaay!]).
One of my wonderful customers brought it to my attention: "Someone shared your clink pic on Facebook and wrote their fb link on the pic... It was a blog by someone called ___. I couldn't comment on it but heaps and heaps of people shared it!! Just thought I'd let you know."

 At first I didn't really get it. I just read the "heaps of people shared it" part and thought it was great! Noooo... not good. She later added, "If I did not know you were the artist I would've thought she drew it!! There was no mention of the artist at all. The people that I saw share it said it was so beautiful etc etc and I just thought it was wrong!!" OK. Whoa. Not cool.

I didn't have the url at the time, but she did give me a first name and the clue that it was on Facebook. I got my sister to help me with the detective work. She had the brilliant idea of google-image-searching the Etsy jpg url of Clink. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Literally hundreds of results came up, and after going through 60+ websites, I realized to my dismay that a small fraction actually attributed the art to me. Tumblr was actually the woooorst because it was such a crazy web of sharing and very difficult to find the original post. Also, I suppose once it's shared, the deed is done.

I felt rather conflicted--I wanted to smile from flattery and frown from feeling cheated. I messaged one blog to credit me. They replied within a couple hours with the change and apologized. They apparently found it on Google without mention of the artist (dang it!).

Back to Facebook!! My customer gave me the url and whoa! The person had pasted their blog url on nearly every photo posted, from personal self-portraits to a scene from My Neighbor Totoro. Perhaps she didn't realize her error but I was mortified to see that there were over 600+ shares, 400+ likes, and I forget how many comments. Anyway! It was a lot!

What I did to fix this:
I clicked the gear button next to the post and flagged it. At the bottom of the pop up window was an option to report it as my intellectual property. It took me to this form:

With the help, moral support, and empathetic scoffs of frustration from Polly (of Pollyannacowgirl), I filled out the form. I immediately received a copy of the report via email, and within a day, Facebook had taken it down: Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We have removed or disabled access to the third-party or user-generated content you have reported to us for violating our Statement of Rights & Responsibilities.  VICTORY!!

Lessons learned:
I haven't always been consistent with crediting links, photos, etc. but I definitely will from now on. Now that I know how infuriating it is. It's also a little depressing because you work so hard to make something, and you share it trusting that your viewers will see & share with respect. I, like other artists, photographers, bloggers, and designers, make a living from our intellectual property so when someone doesn't acknowledge or give us proper credit, it's quite negatively impacting.

Anyway! Artist, protect & watermark you images. Folks, share with love & respect for the creator! Especially on Tumblr & Pinterest! :)

Finishing up Valentine's Day goodies

Monday, January 09, 2012

Let's Spoon - print & card
Mini Valentines
And my perforated valentines are already in the shop!

Big Spoon/Little Spoon

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

So nice to meet you, 2012!

Yay! First 2012 post.

This year will be grand, epic, & with an intention to prepare for the changes in 2013. Let me explain!

Some time ago I learned about a friend's friend's lifestyle: two years of work, two years of play. For two years, she worked nonstop having typically 2-3 jobs at a time. Then she traveled for the next two years, burden-free & using the money she earned. Rinse repeat. I remember thinking her approach was GENIUS. What a good way to make yourself work & travel to find balance. Without meaning to I've adopted a similar lifestyle, & 2013 marks the beginning of PLAY! So, my overall 2012 mission (should I choose to accept [just saw Ghost Protocol & it's so good!!]) is to prepare & change my business into one I can take AND leave for my open-ended travels in 2013.
 I wasn't sure if this was something worth sharing on my blog (and perhaps it isn't), but I figured it may be interesting to someone starting her own business. Developing product and marketing is important and key, but finessing the business model and altering it here and there to nurture growth is a project on its own and just as important. I also think intention-setting is sooooo necessary. I do it as often as I can, just to make sure I'm always doing what makes me happy (because sometimes it changes!). I also take it very seriously... enough to design it in illustrator and print it on pretty paper and tape in all my planners and post on my bulletin board. Yup. Intentions. If you don't have 'em, get some!

Anyway! Looking back (ha to three days ago), 2011 was about testing the waters--I visited Hong Kong for two weeks, and I participated in several craft fairs in multiple states & cities, traveling by train, on foot, subway, car & plane. I survived! Now that I know I can handle a high volume of work in a limited space and/or time, I've been going through my day-to-day business tasks with a fine comb, looking for ways to be more efficient. So far, I've found solutions in online postage, using a program like Quickbooks for my finances, delegating website updates to my sister, having Kevin work fairs for me, and hiring an intern. I've made visual graphs (like WHOA) of my finances and earnings to pinpoint the lows & highs so I know when/what to expect & schedule accordingly. I've set monthly target financial goals (an idea I borrowed from Modern Mouse), so I don't have to worry too much about 'making enough money', or can easily decide if I haaaave to do that craft fair.

I'm really excited to see how I will shift my business into one that is nomadic-friendly. I'm open to any suggestions or ideas if you have any!

And on another note, my personal greatest happenings in 2011 (in no particular order):
  1. Disney! WOW. Dream come true... that I legally cannot elaborate on. Just. Wait. For. It!
  2. Modern Mouse - the most perfect part-time supplement/compliment to my full-time business. I feel like I've known the folks for years.
  3. Summer Craft Tour - I learned that travel and business DO MIX, and rather well, too! It was a good lesson in honoring my limits, and staying grounded in the constant movement.
  4. Kevin, the boyfriend. Heeyyyyyyyy.
  5. Hong Kong - my passion can support my wanderlust
  6. Delivering Happiness - I know it seems strange to put a book on the list but it seriously blew my mind and made me think about business in a new light. I highly recommend it. It was an even greater treat because after I finished listening to the audiobook, Jenn (Delivering Happiness CEO) came into the store and we briefly chatted about it. GEEK OUT.
Happy New Year all. Seriously. It's going to kick major booty.
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