Sep 01 2010

My Infringing Days Are Behind Me!

Published by at 4:55 pm under amy's head,crafty,jewelry,likes & irks,likes & irks

Since posting about my copyright infringement saga, a number of people have come to my defense, and the entire internet drama has really reached a clamor and come to a head. I want to repost a few things here for the record.

I really don’t want to get into the background of what’s been happening before and after I published my previous post in the mailling community (and I recognize there’s lots of other places other than the maille artisans site) but there is an entire thread on weave restrictions going on here, on the Maille Artisans site, which you can read if you like. I do want to point out a few things in this situation, and in so doing, I’ll just repost a post I made to that thread:

Oddly, I find myself coming to Legba’s defense.

[snipped links to her flickr stream]

In my opinion, I think there are three issues here.

Legal copyright, the maille community, and the strength of said copyrights.

One has nothing to do with the others.

Legally, I don’t believe that Legba (believed she) did anything wrong in registering her copyrights and enforcing them. These are all for pieces of jewelry which she created and she (believes she) holds the copyright on them, regardless of registration.

I think technically (and I am very sorry for saying so, Laura *hug*) Laura copied her design, even without the pearl drop, and as such, infringed on Legba’s inherit copyright. Laura obviously did not think it was wrong to do so and made this mistake in error.

The problem comes with the 2nd issue — the maille community. Over the past 2+ years since Legba posted the original weave, others have made the weave, posted their variations, & Legba herself has posted her designs. Due to the sharing nature of the site, it is quite possible for someone to mistake a jewelry design for something that they can freely make a copy of. In the recent past, from what I’ve looked through, Legba has even posted that such and such design are copyrighted. (Sadly, she turns around and deletes these comments at times.)

Probably the best route for Legba to have taken was to post something initially, saying, “hey I got some of my work published and as such I am going to need to start enforcing copyright on these pieces, just FYI. Here they all are! Cheers!” This would have alleviated much, if not ALL of this mess. There would be no hiding behind shadowy publishing companies and mystery on what is protected and why and “OMGWTFBBQ, can I not make stepping stones at all now? PANIC!?!” etc. Mass hysteria would have never been.

THAT BEING SAID! HOWEVER!

IN MY CASE, however, I believe that Legba copyrighted her design without checking to see if anyone else had actually made something similar, as I had. A simple enough mistake, sadly compounded by her present actions. I tried to point out the fact that my item(s) predate hers, and she sent me the cease and desist, fine. I am through discussing and reject her claims to the otherwise. The ball is in her court if she wishes to persue legal action.

Legally, I don’t think Legba has done anything wrong except in my case.

and now comes the second HOWEVER!

WOULD THESE COPYRIGHTS STAND UP??

Whether or not ALL of those copyrights would/will actually stand up in court is another question ENTIRELY. I think the ones with a lot of detail such as Athena’s Tears and the piece with the X and the pearl drop (again, sorry Laura!) would stand the best chance of that.

The others, including the pendant which she claims I infringe on, is a toss up. Not a lot of, as someone had stated, “artistic STUFF” going on there. This is the discussion that could have continued when these pieces were originally posted, if Legba had been willing to participate in them.

-amy

I just want that little piece “on the record” of my blog, as it were.

Finally, Legba/Sara contacted me again today, and I submit our following interaction.

I admit.. I was bitchy.

(I think I had a tiny right to be after all this, but there you go. Bitchy.)

subject: can we reach an understanding?

Your blogpost is very interesting but shows a lack of copyright understanding. You have actually used my photo from MAIL on it without my permission despite MAIL’s very clear copyright statement, this is another infringement, please link but don’t post my photo on your blog.

I see you have chosen to credit me with the weave design on Etsy, thank you, that was all I asked for in the end so maybe you can now stop pot stirring and post on MAIL that we seem to have reached an understanding (have we?).

If I choose to issue a take down notice against you on Etsy or Flickr, it would then be your job to prove my copyright wrong not my job to prove it is right. However I have no intention of issuing take down notices unless you continue to stir things up. So please let’s get past this and carry on with our jewellery work as ‘comrades’ rather than enemies, it is not healthy for either of us. I am happy with the credit you have given me and I hope you will be happy knowing that I am sorry for causing you stress over this issue.

I would appreciate some kind of acknowledgement to this email even if it’s to tell me to get lost.

She was correct. I removed the offending image.

My reply:

I acknowledge receipt of your email. To sum up: I intend to continue selling my items on Etsy, my own website, http://rainestudios.net, and on any other site as I see fit until a court orders me otherwise. I have no issue with stating, “based on Stepping Stones weave, created by Corvus Chainmaille.” — this verbage is, and has always been, in my page of instructions in the kits I sell (along with a direct link to the Maille Artisans site tutorial) as a courtesy.

I still reject any claim that my pendant/earrings infringe upon any copyright you have registered, any my inclusion of the “based on” language is not intended as any admission or acknowledgment of any infringement or as a settlement of any claim you have or may have later.

See? Bitchy. Lawyerish bitchiness – but again, I think I had a right to be on the defensive. Plus, I was DONE. I had done my research, wrote a blog post about it, drew my line in the sand and in my mind, it was up to her as to how she wanted to react. She could do what she liked, whether it be issue take downs, or talk to her lawyer, or take a nap, and it didn’t need to concern me anymore until I got a notice from Etsy, or papers delivered to me by a sheriff, because I WAS DONE.

Amy
I did state that the credit for the weave was all I wanted (not at first but later) in an effort to resolve this issue. That is what I’m trying to do, resolve this issue. If you are happy to give credit (not admit infringement) then I am happy.
Am I to understand that that we do indeed have an agreement? That being, that we both made this design independently. Am I to assume that you accept my apology? If so can you please post on MAIL and your blog that we have reached an understanding?
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these then I will have to speak to my legal counsel again. This is not a threat of any action but you must realise that you have been discussing the issue between us publicly and that could put you in a poorer position.
Please respond.
Sara

She did state earlier that she wanted credit for her design.

At that time, I took that to mean that she wanted credit for her PENDANT design, and to be fair, she could very well have meant the weave in general. That’s fine. I had previously stated on all my pieces, “based on the Stepping Stones weave” and had added “by Corvus Chainmaille” when I re-activated them on Etsy – I have absolutely no problem with that at all.

I was still very much done and seeing red with the entire situation however, and did not see any reason for her to be emailing me, especially if she had the credit she wanted. So read my continued bitchiness below:

For some reason, you believe our mutual agreement will end this issue on the Maille site.

Whether or not we come to any agreement doesn’t mean everyone will say, “oh good, no worries everyone, it’s all OK now!” This is an issue that affects everyone in the maille community and it will continue to be discussed whether you do or do not participate, or if I accept your apology or not (which by the way, I’m not sure I actually ever heard? “Accept my apology, or I’ll tell Etsy/Flickr/my lawyer on you” doesn’t exactly sound like an apology to me.)

I have stated my intentions, and if you can live with them, that is up to you. No further agreement or non agreement is necessary, just your acceptance or non acceptance and your chosen actions thereafter. I will continue to post on the Maille site and my own personal website the details of my experiences and interactions as I see fit.

But since you seem to require it, we do seem to have an understanding. As for the rest, I don’t really care about your apology. Thanks anyway, feel free to tell your lawyer that we didn’t kiss & make up, or hug it out in the end.

Her reply:

Your attitude stinks, you are ignoring my apology which is quite clearly there below “I hope you will be happy knowing that I am sorry for causing you stress over this issue.” there were no buts or ifs after it.

She is dead right about my attitude stinking. It did. I still had a very large chip on my shoulder and was intent on driving my point home until there was a 10 foot hole in the ground. Ah well. She wanted a happy ending, and I was intent on drawing it out.

Oh high road, I bet it’s nice up there! I sure wish I had taken you!

So it is all over – I need to check over all my listings to make sure I have everything proper, but I have no issue with doing so.

I want to make a few things clear though. While I flew off on the defensive when accused of copyright infringement, I STRONGLY believe that designers should have the right of ownership over their designs.

I STRONGLY beleive that Legba SHOULD HAVE AND DOES HAVE THE RIGHT TO COPYRIGHT HER DESIGNS. Absolutely and forever and ever amen. If my previous post detailing this experience has muddled that up at all, I want to make it clear. Designers deserve rights to their property. That is why copyright exists.

Should a copyright exist on a weave? I don’t think it should, no, but far more experienced chainmaillers than I can weigh in on that one.

I think it was said PERFECTLY by CShake on the thread I mentioned above,

If anyone posts a weave to the weave library, it is explicitly there for others to make themselves, including variations. If the submitter wants to keep control over who is “allowed” to use their weave, it should not be in the library – the gallery is the place for that if anywhere, and with a note to that effect. Be aware that someone else may make the weave independently if you don’t post yours (there are only so many ways to connect a bunch of rings), and if there is no entry they can submit it, at which point anyone can make it without fear of being stopped.

But people, if you took significant inspiration from someone else’s piece when you made your variation – Say so! Say “inspired by so-and-so”! If you are so inspired that you want to make the same thing they did with no variations – ASK THEM! The majority of people here will be flattered and say “go ahead”, but then again you may run into someone who says “No, it’s mine, make your own” in which case that’s what you should do.

Very well said. In asking him if I could quote him, he did give me this addendum:

Sure, quote me, I expect that when I post in public :)

However, the official FAQ here states “All submissions to M.A.I.L. remain the copyrighted property of the original submitters. They just grant us the right to publish their property on our website. If you want to use their work, you need to contact them directly and ask their permission.”, so my part about explicitly granting the right to make the weave may not technically be correct. It’s just how I and many of the board of directors feel. I don’t want to be quoted as stating the official policy, just my opinion on the matter is all.

Well fuck! Oh copyright, how your tenants shall elude us all!

So anyway.

How could all of this been avoided?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

Looking back at the entire incident and putting myself in Sara’s shoes, I really don’t know how I would go about informing someone they are infringing on my copyright. Whether I came up with it independently or not, she was doing her duty, and when you have to do that kind of duty you instantly put that person you are dutying in Super! Uber! DEFEND! mode, at least I certainly was put in that mode.

And honestly, I have not designed anything nearly as extraordinary as Sara has. Have you looked through all those flickr links I posted? Amazing. My modest little pendant is nothing special compared to her talent and I’m sure a ton of people would/will/have/whatever come up with that thing on their own. I wish her the best and hope she will continue her generosity with the mailling community.

I hope that someday I will be as innovative and as STUNNING of a designer as her so I will have to issue my own copyright infringements.

EEP, I hope not! :)

-amy

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “My Infringing Days Are Behind Me!”

  1. Tamaraon 01 Sep 2010 at 5:47 pm

    WOW! Just WOW! This kind of blows my mind. I am confused….I do remember when you first made that and it has been a while ago. I dont understand the entire copyright thing. being a creative person, as you are, and as any artist is, people are going to make similar things at times.

    She is going to have a real busy life going and hunting down things that look just like hers. My guess is if she did some digging you would find out that neither of you actually “invented” that exact thing that some knight in shining armor actually made it for is damsel in distress hundreds of years ago…My guess is she is bored and has nothing better to do.

    Sorry you are having to deal with this and hats off to you for standing up to her!!!!
    Tamara´s last blog post ..My life part 4

  2. Clever Wenchon 01 Sep 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Amy, it takes great courage to work things out as you and Sara have. Applause! Thank you for presenting a balanced and fair representation of the issues involved here.

    @ Tamara: Please try to re-read the blog post with an open mind. Amy and Sara are trying to work out an amenable resolution to a valid dispute.

  3. Nevon 01 Sep 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Wow, I am impressed too, I’m so glad this got cleared up, from what I’ve seen you are both much more awesome than I am, and I am glad that I had this lesson on how to fix an explosive issue with out having to do it myself.

  4. Jeffon 01 Sep 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I’m glad you were able to reach some sort of ending to this. Despite Sara’s “accept my apology or else” attitude, you stuck to your guns admirably. Good on ya for being so open and forthright about this whole thing; others can learn from your example. :)

  5. Tamaraon 01 Sep 2010 at 9:42 pm

    @clever I did read the blog post and also went and read all the links that Amy provided. This ain’t the first time from what I read that this lady has screamed MINE!! I applaud the way she handled the situation. My opinion is based on the fact that I know Amy in the real world not the Internet world. She is not a person who would steal anothers idea. So, yes, I took offense to how this other lady behaved…

  6. Tamaraon 01 Sep 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Sorry for the typos. Typing in the dark on my iPhone while laying next ro a three year old who doesn’t want to sleep! Especially for the” ain’t” typo…..

  7. Jeffon 02 Sep 2010 at 10:16 am

    Oh, and I meant to point out that your use of the Stepping Stones weave photo would fall under the Criticism/Commentary category of the Fair Use doctrine, so you didn’t really have to take it down.

    @Tamara, your take on it is pretty spot on, sadly. I would be surprised if this is the last incident to arise from this person’s copyrights.

  8. amyon 02 Sep 2010 at 10:32 am

    Tamara, I love your loyalty in sticking up for me, thank you *hug*

    Jeff – point taken :) I’m a little squeamish now with anything regarding copyright.

    @Nev @Cleverwench – thanks for your kind comments. I’m glad it’s all over!

  9. Nancyon 02 Sep 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for clarifying you based your design on stepping stones, and not her *pendant design.* For what it’s worth, your design is different than her’s, and prettier. Thank you again for finishing up this trollish mess.

  10. amyon 03 Sep 2010 at 3:16 pm

    As a post post script, I post Sara’s email response to this blog post, and my email to her apologizing for my previous attitude:

    “Amy
    I am truly impressed. I really don’t know what to say at this point except I’m sorry that I didn’t make my intentions clearer, I’m sorry that I didn’t explain myself better in the first place. I do accept your apology as it is real and I appreciate it.
    Thank you
    Sara”

    Sara and I have come to an understanding on this matter, so I’m closing comments – if you would like to comment to me privately, feel free, but please, don’t harrass Sara, that’s just not nice!