“It’s emotional blackmail to say if you’re a good businesswoman and a musician, you’re betraying your music.” Tori Amos.
As a creative of all kinds, i am used to working for lower wages than most, often for free, and putting a large amount of work for little financial reward. I’m also privileged to have felt the unique pride and satisfaction of my work being well received, paid for by strangers and occasionally defended by those i’ve never met. It can be hard but the small rewards are what keep us going. I also believe that the arts ARE work – some of us can do nothing else, can’t do the 9 to 5 and should not be seen as lesser for building stories with words instead of houses with bricks. Its 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, and fraught with challenges, the most regular being poverty.
So, as a carpenter would demand payment for his cabinet, we deserve to be compensated for our work and to protect our right to what is ours. I have a tendency share my work in a trusting way, to undercharge and give things away, but going self employed i have realised there has to be an end to that. I have a kid to feed and clothe, and he cant eat well wishes.
As such, i find it incredibly had to bear when someone takes my work and passes it off as their own and, as sadly happened recently, make money from it without rewarding me or giving me my dues. Being a writer, i have been ‘closely copied’ and replicated, and swiftly made these incidents public knowledge, hoping to shame the culprits – but it seems that plagurism is becoming more and more common place.
A lawyer friend of mine outlined my Intellectual Property rights to me, i researched them in depth and sent a stern ‘cease and desist’ to the person who has stolen my designs and put them on their own, mass produced, low grade, non recycled t-shirts. They took them down from the website in question, but i was saddened to see that she clearly does this as a matter of course and will only stop when caught and challenged.
I say saddened, i could have happily punched her.
As other artists know, our work is a reflection of our insides, part of you. I give a piece of myself out in my designs and, in this and my writing, it’s done with trust and some vulnerability, so stealing a piece of my view of the world makes it personally upsetting.
Fuelled by this feeling, i have been looking into copyrighting all my designs for Kecks, the name itself and the logo, which im still wrestling with.(more about what a logo is another day…it’s too exhausting) and i suggest you do the same, quickly.
People can shamelessly take your work and pass it off as theirs – ever read about the Kimba the White Lion movie vs Disney’s Lion King controversy? It’s an interesting case
Anyway, being savvy doesn’t make you ‘the man’ or lesss of an artist, anyone who says that probably has the money not to care, or has pinched ideas themselves. We all borrow or are inspired, but theft of someones music, artwork, designs or other is wrong – it’s taking money and other rewards from them. The arts field has grey areas – approprition, sampling etc, even sharing links on here or referencing people can get some peole’s backs up – but making sure you try to credit people and use the law to be clear about what is yours helps everyone eh?
Here’s the dudes with the IP powers for the UK:
Naturally it costs a buttload of money, so for now i’m being vigilant and clearly stating ‘All right reserved’ on my work, watermarking images where i can, just to be clear.
So far, no punching has occurred.
Feature picture by Tove Jansson.