THIS is what I have been dealing with on a constant basis for the past six months. In December 2017 I was first notified of my [Yin Yang Rats] design being sold unauthorized on the website AliExpress. I wrote a [Journal] at the beginning of the year explaining how difficult and time-consuming it was to remove. Unfortunately, my battle was not over as I have been chasing down thefted and altered versions of my design across the internet ever since.
I cannot even put into words how frustrating and disheartening this kind of thing is. This design is very special to me and I created it with everyone who loves rats in mind. It is an absolute disgrace to my artwork and an insult to me as an artist to see my work stolen, altered and slapped onto products without a second thought as to who made it or what it represents. Instead of being able to create new art, I've had to spend all my time and energy in hunting this theft down, writing DMCA Takedown notices, and corresponding with various legal departments. I am absolutely exhausted. My motivation to draw is lost. I've had to spend so much energy just to defend myself and the fight is far from over.
Recently, things took an even worse turn. One of the places listed here - MerchVibes on Etsy - submitted a counter-claim to my report of copyright infringement. The only way to proceed is with a court order. I am completely and utterly lost. My art has been stolen, altered, and sold without my permission and now I have to go to court if I want anything to be done about it. I'm looking to register this artwork with a copyright, but since it's happening after the infringement, I don't know how much good it will do. I'm also looking into what to do about getting a lawyer, despite having absolutely no money to afford one and no idea who to trust. It's an utter mess I don't even have the energy to elaborate on.
I am not the only artist that these places have stolen from. PLEASE let artists know if you recognize their art being used without permission:
I know it is unfair to put the burden of fact-checking on the consumer. You should be able to trust that the products you buy are legitimate. Unfortunately that is far from the truth of things. Please, please scrutinize companies - especially those online - before you buy products with artwork on them. Be suspicious if the store has a wide and conflicting range of art styles and images. Most of these places are even too lazy to crop off the signatures and copyrights of the artists. And please god if you are a tattoo artist or looking to get a tattoo, it is SO easy to ask the artist for permission or even commission a custom one! I put my artwork online so that I can make a living, NOT so you can steal it!
This is legitimately the kind of thing that destroys artists like me. I am losing profits, I am losing time, I am losing motivation and I am losing the will to even create and share my work. I do not get reimbursed for any of these things. I do not get exposure. This problem does not go away. I do not get to "win" anything. I will probably be dealing with this for the rest of my artistic career.
If I want to continue to put up a fight against intellectual property theft, it is likely going to get expensive. I don't want to resort to begging, but if anyone would like to help support me and the continued creation of my artwork, please consider donating via [Paypal] or [Ko-fi], or making a purchase from my [Etsy], [RedBubble], or [TeePublic] stores.
Thank you ♥