Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sharing Is Stealing

Hi All,
I just wanted to share a letter with you all from my favoritist artist ever, Mo Manning. As many of you know she has been dealing with some serious copyright infringement issues as of late, some of which are so serious it could shut the digital industry down completely if us crafters don't stand up for the artists behind our craft.
I know you all are probably like me and would just die to see our digi stamp companies go out of business. And probably, like me, you have shared a stamped image or two (out of ignorance) in times past. Well, I think the following letter will change the way that many of us look at things .....grab a cuppa and read on.....

Dear Crafter,

First of all, I do not think you're a horrible person, and I really do appreciate you writing to me.  I wanted to give you a chance to respond -- which is why I didn't simply put up your name and let people "at you."  So I have shown I CARE about you -- even after people cried to know  your name -- but do you care about me?

NONE of us can sit here drawing for hours and hours every day to put new stamp images up if we are not being paid a livable wage.  If you can't buy a stamp -- why in heaven's name would you think that gives you the moral right to steal it from me?

I am a single mum.  I adopted two special needs (from abused homes) children as a single mother, and have raised them all by myself without asking anyone for anything.  I couldn't work in a regular job because my kids had difficulty in regular school for many years . . . so besides trying to heal them emotionally, I had to home-school them AND try to earn enough money to keep a roof over our heads.  For YEARS I slept on a couch in the living room because I couldn't afford a place with real beds for all three of us and I wanted my kids to be the ones to have the beds. Six years ago I almost died because I waited too long to go to the hospital because I couldn't afford health insurance.  I am still under thousands and thousands of dollars hospital bills because of that.  My youngest is 19 now -- and both kids are just out on their own . . . but my own mum is blind, has lung disease and severe arthritis so now I need to take care of her. 

The only reason I'm telling you this is because I want you to understand that EVERYONE has their sad stories.  In all these years I have never taken anything that wasn't mine.  I would never say, hey, I can't afford to buy this music CD, so I'll go ask my friends if they can burn a copy for me.  If I can't afford something I want -- I save up for it or I go without.  I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to do something simple like take my kids to see a movie but simply couldn't.  Stamps are a luxury -- not a need.  If you (or someone else) can't afford them -- you can't simply steal them. (And my images are NOT expensive.  They are $3 US no matter where you live in the world because all of them are available through my digital shop.)

And here's the BIGGEST thing.  Every moment that my images are up on a site like yours, people are downloading them freely.  And those people who download them freely think, "Hey, it was just FREE" so they pass them along to OTHER people freely and pretty soon NO ONE needs to buy them anymore because they're available for FREE!  Magnolia now has people like you taking their images and scanning them in.  Here is the history of Magnolia:

1: Magnolia does popular stamps everyone loves.
2: For years people buy them and Magnolia thrives as a business
3: The Internet happens.
4: Crafters enjoy the Internet and become skilled at using computers.
5: Craft forums and Blogs become popular and crafters from all over the world meet and interact.
6: Large swap groups are formed in forums everywhere, sometimes with hundreds of participants each.  People mail each other stacks of stamped images.
7. People start using printed images they have found on the internet -- mostly clip art.
8. Digital stamp companies run by solo artists start springing up.
9. Someone gets the idea to scan in their Magnolia images to make THOSE into digis they can share easily.
10. Others see the scanned in Magnolia images and scan theirs in too.
11.People start emailing each other  "OOOh -- I don't have those ones!!" and scanned images exchange hands.  10s of images multiply into 100s and then 1000s.
12. SOME people decide to compile these thousands of Magnolia images on CDs and sell the collections on Ebay.  Other people decide to BUY these Magnolia CDs.
13. Magnolia's profits DIP because a growing number of people are getting hold of the pirated "digi" Magnolias and don't need to buy the rubber.
14. Magnolia decides it's not worth it to put out new stamps, and there is one more company who needs to find a different product.

We're at about number 13 right now -- Magnolia is a member of my group "Stamp Out" and I happen to know they are confused, worried and not sure what to do about the theft besides GIVE UP.  If this can happen to a long established company like Magnolia -- how quickly do you think it can happen to a small company like mine, or Lily of the Valley, or the Greeting Farm or Stamping Bella, Stampavie or any other.  I don't think people realize most of us are small businesses barely skating by.  This GROWING theft by crafters who care more that they have "this cute stamp too" than that the artist can feed their child -- is KILLING stamp companies.

I am one who will fight to the end to protect my art -- and the art of all my friends.  I will be retaining a lawyer soon, because this is just going too far and in the future someone is going to need to be made an example of.

So to wrap this up, Crafter.  I do believe a person can be redeemed.  I'm hoping you're a person like that.  I will believe your apology is sincere if you not only stop giving (AND RECEIVING) stolen images yourself -- but if you take my letter to heart and help spread the word this is wrong, wrong, wrong.  It worries me that you say you have gotten my images from Photobucket but didn't give me the information to have them taken down.

Please let me know that you have understood my huge frustration is not just with you - but with all who are being "nice" by sharing when in fact you are making artists struggle (even more) to put food on their tables.

xoMo 



For the original post click here

I would just like to add a post script here. If in doubt about whether something you'd like to do is legal,  ask the artist. I have done this many times and yes, the answer is sometimes yes and often NO but its ok, you know where you stand.


9 comments:

Barb said...

I think Mo did a fantastic job with this letter! If someone doesn't "get it" after this, then they just didn't read it! I'm happy to see other designers, artists and users passing this along, too. I'd hate to lose digis, which have helped this craft to thrive. This is a great community and I'm happy to be part of it and our vigilance will keep it a healthy business, which we all can appreciate these days!

Ulina /Apricot Bubbles said...

I agree!

Annemaritta said...

People don't think!

I've used illustration like copying a DVD / book / music CD. Every time you copy and give or sell or swap, it is a breach of copyright. Same goes with stamp. Better to ask, as you said, then you know where you stand.

Same time I keep thinking, if (digital) stamps were cheaper, people would buy more of them.

Rita said...

What a terrible thing for any crafter to do. Quite honestly if I can't afford something ,then I do without until I can. I would never go down this road. Hope she gets something sorted out. I'm hopeless at digi's anyway although I have bought a few from Mo Manning. Hugs Rita xx

Debbie said...

Mo wrote a very powerful letter, I hope people get it now and understand the consequences. And to me digi's are
so cheap compared to rubber why would someone do that anyway.. It's wrong no matter what copyright material it is, you shouldn't do it. I've never shared a digi, but will admit in the past have swapped rubber images but it's been years and will never do that again..

Debbie

Lori said...

Thank you for sharing this. It is a subject that needs to be taken seriously. It's amazing to think that digis are so very reasonable, but people are stealing them! So glad you visited me - I enjoyed looking through your blog at your pretty creations!

grandmalee said...

Thanks so much on this update on the latest problems with digi stealing. I have the Stamp Out image on my blog, and have been a supporter of Mo's crusade since the beginning. Mo has been very gracious to these thieves by giving them a chance to make things right, so it's a shame that this trend continues with her and so many others. Most of the artists have a prominent style, so it's very hard for the thieves to claim that they didn't know who created the images. I will also post Mo's letter on my blog to help get out the word. Thanks again for helping get out the word for our stamp artists.

June Nelson said...

Mo is a good freind of mine, and I think she really hit the spot this time, when will people ever learn. There always has to be folks that spoil it for others and its just not right!!! xxx

Chris Olsen, Glowbug said...

I guess I have had my head in the sand....I was unaware of the issue until now. I am so sorry that there has been sharing of digis and that it has presented a problem for digi artists. TFS!
hugs,
Chris

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