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September 2013



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Amazing...our copyright laws mean little in China!

I'm just shaking my head, here. Just got a nice request to link to the tutorial Bet Borgeson created as a review of my book, Creating Nature in Watercolor, on the Mighty Art Demos site; that's the painting, above, "Hidden Falls, Poconos."

As you may know, I linked to that tutorial from my own website, with her OK, but here's the original link: http://www.mightyartdemos.com/mightyartdemosfrbks-c-johnson.html She did a terrific job with full permission and cooperation from North Light/FWMedia, and I was grateful to all concerned!  (The book has done very well, largely from the kind of positive press it's received!)

The fellow who asked my permission (with the offer of full links and info, by the way) said he'd found it on the web, and when I clicked on the link he provided, I discovered that it came from a *pirated* version, with no copyright info, no permission, no links to my site or Mighty Art Demos or North Light--nada!

I'm surprised they even bothered to put my name on it; that's how he found me. I wrote to Bet to let her know her review had been pirated, as well.

I'm not passing along that link, because they stole my work, Bet's, and that of a number of other artists; they have Google ads on their site and I don't intend to help them make money from piracy.

The original demo is from my latest book, Creating Nature in Watercolor: An Artist's Guide, as you can see: I've turned it over to my editors at North Light, who will be able to deal with it better than I can; thanks to one of my students we got contact information on the pirate site.

I do plan to write to Google and suggest they might want to be aware the site ignores US Copyright laws...I have no idea how they might police who uses their ads, but at least I can make them aware after the fact.

Siiiigh...the 'net DOES make this sort of thing all too easy, but we need to fight it whenever it comes to our attention...


*nod* Apparently this kind of piracy has become quite the lucrative profession in China. Recently one of the LJ groups I'm on (I think it was the Illustrator's group) found out that someone on the group has been carefully collecting all the work that's been posted and that they published it in a book, with none of the artists receiving a penny in compensation and many of the artists re-named something Chinese. The book was called "Best of Illustration" or something like that. It's really sad that these days, you can't even show your art anywhere without someone coming along and swiping it. I'm sorry this happened to you. I wish it were far more rare than it is turning out to be. :(
Thank you, sweetie...I've heard some real horror stories of this type. What happened to the artists you're talking about was FAR worse than this...I'm so sorry. I've heard of people's art being taken and made into prints sold there. We take that chance every time we share our work on the web, unfortunately...
Yep, we do. But I've started to include stealth signatures in my work recently so that even if they take my name off something, I'll be able to point to where I've hidden my signature and go "See? Mine!" It's not a big thing and most of the time I'm not even going to get the chance to do that, because as you say, in China nobody can hear you scream "MINE!" *laugh* I don't know, it just feels like if a petty victory is all I'm going to get, I'll take what I can. The only alternative is to wreck up the art with big ugly watermarks and stuff and I just don't want to do that. I have done it in the past, but...to me it reminds me of those big things you have to walk through at department stores...the scanner things? It's presupposing malicious intent of everyone for the sins of a few and I don't like that. So I guess I've just resigned myself that theft is somewhat inevitable. But it stinks that we put all the time and dedication into our talent and these buzzards can circle around and profit from something opportunistically like they do.
I agree it's about impossible to prevent, kiddo! I love your little victory...and yes, big intrusive watermarks just don't get it for me, either...
I'm not exactly pleased myself. *G* It's a shame about your poetry though...
I can just imagine how aggravating that is. I had some material misused without proper permission and it feels terrible. Good thing you did find out about it, I suppose (though sometimes I almost think I'd rather not know!)
I know what you mean, MissPrune! Sometimes I'd just rather not know, too...glad my publisher's taking care of it now.
I'm not sure if it's of any use, but here's my tactic: When I post art online, I almost always crop it so the edges are missing. It's never missing anything huge or important.

If I have to prove that it's my work, not someone else's, I can show the full image to the person making the decision.

I've done that successfully with website hosts in the U.S., so the person's site (or at least the page/s with my work) was removed, but I doubt it'd be helpful with the Chinese.

On the other hand, Google is more likely to listen and close the AdSense account of the culprit. If it stopped being profitable to rip off art, the practice would stop in a blink.

I also tend to post images that are as small and low-res as I can get away with. Print media images need at least 150 dpi to avoid blurring or a pixelated look.

In the early days of the Internet, we used to slice images. That would make the process even more difficult and annoying for thieves.

There are other tactics, but it all depends on how extreme you want to get to prevent piracy.

I definitely like the idea of a semi-concealed signature in the work. It's a small victory, but at least it restores some personal power to the situation, without a lot of work.
It's that "lot of extra work" that would get me, I'm afraid. I love Rob's hidden signature...

What's slicing images?

Your idea of removing edges is brilliant! But yeah, foreign pirate websites are not going to be too easy to budge...

Thanks,Ais, I never got your comment and just stumbled across it!
Ah, in the old days of slow dial-up, when an image was large (defined as "over 15k" *LOL*), we'd slice it into pieces.

Basically, the image was cut into small sections and it appears on the webpage as part of a zero-padding/spacing table. Each piece of the image was in its own cell.

To steal the image, the person had to right-click on each individual piece, save it, and reconstruct it in a graphics program. Most people didn't bother, so the practice wasn't just about load time but also about avoiding piracy.

That used to work before screenshots became so easy. Sure, a screenshot may not be as clean a copy, but most of today's pirates have learned to blur the images slightly if the pixels are too annoying.

So, even the slicing technique may not help.

I must not have been putting up many images when I had dial-up! Thanks for the explanation, sounds like you'e REALLY have to be motivated, either to steal them or post them!