Copyright or Copy wrong?

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it comes to copying your creative work. Forget all the bad examples big business has shown by copying their competitors, making slight changes and calling it innovation! This only dilutes what could be a marketplace with an abundant stream of ideas.

Lazy Mind Copy Idea written on a scrabble tile coaster.

Copyright is something that concerns all artists and designers.  Whilst influence is natural plagiarism is far more calculated. Did you know that the practice of copying work and making slight changes is known as ‘Derivative Works’ and that only the original copyright owner has the right to make them?

Another comforting fact is that in order for your work to be copyright protected you do not have to register it. This means that next time someone is lazy enough to take your ideas and tweak them a bit in a half-arsed attempt to make it their own, you do have the right to do something about it. They have created ‘derivative works’ without your permission and have, therefore, infringed on your copyright.

Recently, I discovered someone had copied not just my ideas but the listing descriptions too. This only confirmed that this was a conscious decision.  With all the bad examples we are set by huge corporations I cannot be too angry that some smaller crafters follow their lead.  I do, however feel upset by the quiet indignation I received when I confronted them about the issue. Surely this is the point at which they realised they made a huge mistake.

At the time, I was lucky enough to have been given lots of advice by fellow Craft Britannia member Louise Mead who explained to me all about ‘Derivative Works’.  This is something I hadn’t been aware of before.  She also gave me this interesting link:

‘Top 10 copyright myths’

As an Etsy seller I was also comforted to see that Etsy are attempting to set people straight on the subject too.

“There’s a myth that US law states if you change a certain percentage of someone else’s work, you will be able to claim a copyright in that work. This is a myth. Only the owner of the copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly, without the owner’s consent you cannot claim copyright to another’s work, no matter how much you change it.”

So it seems to be a universal problem.  When researching the subject I came across an old blog post that can also be found in the Etsy seller handbook on Intellectual Property Infringement: Essential Facts.

It dawned on me that this is something we should be sharing with all our artist and designer friends.  We have to be clued up so we can set aside all the myths generated by the fat cats with expensive lawyers.  Not only will this help artists and designers to protect their work but it may also serve as a deterrent to would-be copyright infringers.

It also dawned on me that most people don’t share the info as they get so upset by the whole experience and become a bit jaded.  They can become gripped by a fear that whatever they make available to sell may be copied…….

Then Etsy published this blog post that helped me realise this is how I was feeling and that it’s time to move on – I think I’ve Been Copied.  Now What?

So this is what I’m doing.

Has anyone else had experience of having their work copied?



  1. 23 May 2016 / 21:30

    Thanks Delores, there are some great links to pass on to other creatives and help spread the word. 😀

  2. 26 May 2016 / 10:04

    There’s very little that irritates me quite so much as copying. I don’t think anyone can ever refer to themselves as a ‘creative’ if they can’t even create their own original idea.

    • 26 May 2016 / 10:35

      I definitely agree, I do realise that with trends it is possible to be going in the same direction as people naturally. But people that do it consciously are impersonating creatives and watering down the market.

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