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Imitation is the highest form of flattery?

Above, the original image as seen on
The altered image above, randomly found on the internet. Note the photoshopping on the logos.

I don't mean for this to be a review of Pottery Lane. For all I know they do a great job in their teaching studio. But, I do draw the line when it comes to images of my work being passed off as someone else's.

A few months ago I was looking online for a pottery fund raiser that Mug Revolution could help to support. It's kind of cool to see what people are trying to do but need some money to help them reach a goal. As I surfed, I stumbled across a Michigan potter who had taken an image of mine and tried to pass it off as her own for an indie go go fundraising effort. (Click on the red Read More link on the indie go go page to see the pirated photos.) I contacted Kelly, the owner of Pottery Lane in Grand Rapids informing her that she had violated copyright law by using my copyrighted image without permission. 

In an email response, she said 

"It was not done intentionally - I was using image search parameters in Google that were under the settings of "free to use, modify"... It is possible that the search parameters didn't hold up. I usually use free stock image sites that I know are guaranteed copyright-free when I am creating visual work. 
My goal was to create mock-ups for the campaign. That was all. As the campaign stated we are a new studio, and we had no means of creating all the rewards mugs ahead of time. All of the campaign images are mock-ups for rewards."
I could not find where she mentioned that the images of the mugs were "mock-ups" anywhere on her indie go go page, maybe I missed it. And I suspect that she is not being completely forthcoming by saying she is completely ignorant of Google's image search policy. When I look up that image using Google, I find that underneath it is a statement by Google that says "Images may be subject to copyright." And a link that says "Learn More." When you click the Learn More link you are taken to a page that clearly lays out copyright law as it pertains to images, which clearly does not allow copyrighted images to be used without permission.
The final nail in the coffin that shows how weak Kelly's position or belief that she had rights to use my copyrighted image is this: If you click the image that is displayed on the Google Image search, it takes you right to my website where you can see that I am still using that image for marketing a mug product. Kind of hard to argue that you are innocent in this when clear evidence shows otherwise. 

This situation brings up a lot of questions. If you are a potter, you know how hard it is to copy another potter's work. It can be done, but it is really a time consuming endeavor. But even if you do go to the lengths of copying someone else's work, why aren't you spending that effort on creating your own unique style? 

Fellow potters, please don't take short cuts at the expense of other potters for your own gain. Please help support a healthy, robust community of folks who help each other out, and who inspire others to create great pots. This petty bullshit takes everyone down a notch. And, Kelly, you should know better. I think that you do, but you appear to not be as principled as perhaps you would like others to believe. Photoshopping your logo over top of one of the logos I have made makes you look like a thief!

That old saying, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." It's not true. When people steal your work and pass it off as their own with no remorse and no compensation, it sucks.

I'm sorry we had to meet under these circumstances, Kelly. And no, I'm not going to sue you, I don't have the time or money. But I will keep this blog post up as a reminder to STOP STEALING!



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