Tuesday 10 October 2017

Copy That!

It's been a while since you've hard from me, I know! My apologies for not updating this blog or the Facebook page as often as I'd like. But never forget you can reach me via email or through the contact page of my website, and indeed through any social media places. :)

I took a little hiatus due to an injured arm, which I wrote about here. And then have been busy with commissions, which I'll let you know all about soon.

What else?

Well............... it's a shocker!

A well known and well respected European artist, who has published maybe two dozen books which teach people to sculpt characters using polymer clay, started plagiarizing my work and selling it.

A year ago I wrote about copyright infringement here. I was frustrated and bothered because a few more people had popped up with work that resembled mine just a little too closely for comfort, and who did not credit me as an inspiration either. This story is different. This wasn't an amateur artist who didn't know better and didn't understand copyright infringement laws. This was a career artist who had published her first book teaching others how to work with clay whilst I was still a child playing with dollhouses. She copied my characters of  Good Witches Bad Witches ™. and attended fairs and shows with these characters and boldly sold them to fans. I wont name this artist since the issue is now resolved and I don't want to embarrass her.

How did I find out?
A fan of mine from India attended one of the largest miniature shows in Europe and saw a booth set up with an array of my quirky and instantly recognisable Good Witches Bad Witches ™. She saw a sign beside them which had my name on it. She looked around to see me so that she could say hello. Many who follow this blog know that I'm a diminutive redhead. But no diminutive redhead was around. Instead, presiding over the booth was an older woman and her grey-haired husband. My fan realised what was up, snapped some photos of the witches for sale and sent them straight to me.

This artist had been recreating my designs for almost two years before I found out. She used the work in progress photos on this blog to copy every detail of my designs. That means all the research and brainstorming I put into a costume for one of my witch characters... all the thought, planning and the trials and errors of creating one were handed to her and she simply copied the design exactly without conscience and remade my work for sale. The witches were priced quite highly and after I did a little digging on the internet I found that she'd been selling them to people who believed they were buying original Caroline McFarlane-Watts art - actual character sculpts from Good Witches Bad Witches ™

Personally I see differences in this artist's work and my own. She's left fingerprints where I would not have, and the outcome is not quite as neat and clean. However, if you had seen photos of my work online and were a fan and then spotted a booth at any one of the many shows she went to with her witch characters, you would have recognized the designs, seen the sign with my name on it (!) and thought you were buying a character from Tall Tales Productions (me).

Copyright infringement and identity theft.

The matter was resolved very quickly, but not after a few weeks gathering evidence from online and several exchanges with my solicitor.

Why do I care?
I've spent years building a recognizable brand Good Witches Bad Witches ™, which is enjoyed and followed in many countries around the world. To have my characters recreated by someone else damages my brand. To have my name written on signs alongside work which is not mine nor made to my standard is damaging to my brand. To have my carefully designed characters sold at several fairs in the US and Europe cheats me out of profit for my hard work. If this wonderful fan of mine had not alerted me to this and enabled me to step in, there's a chance she could have published another tutorial book - this time showing people how to make my characters. None of this is acceptable or even legal.

So there you have it! Can you believe someone could be so thoughtless?! So brazen?!

Here are some photos we had to send her along with the cease and dissist.

I'll blog about something chirpier soon! Thank you so much to those who follow my work and actually 'get it'! I appreciate you so much. I know I say this from time to time but I really do mean it. I appreciate you all. Thank you.
- Caroline xXx


Patricia Paul said...

OMG. This goes on all over with people stealing ideas, but this is just too much. Sorry you went through it.

Trish, who has copiers of her own.

Whimcees said...

This is terrible! Every time I hear of this happening to someone I am amazed at the arrogance and lack conscience and ethics of the person. I am so sorry to hear of this but happy it has been resolved.

LOVE everything you create as you know! :<) Can't wait to see the next one!


Barbara Diane

Now you see it....A Charmed Life said...

I'm flabbergasted! She clearly has talent. Why not create her own designs. Awful, awful, awful! xoxoxo

Lindsayb-mo said...

Well, if this makes you feel.any better at all, your work is 10x better than hers and I would have guessed you had far more experience than she. ��

Unknown said...

I am so sorry this happened to you! I have loved seeing your work so much. Your clever way of making your characters come alive has made me grin and laugh over over. They seem to exude attitude and you have the feeling they just stopped moving long enough for you to take a picture. You are do generous sharing your techniques and processes, it's truly disheartening to hear of someone taking advantage of you. As an artist, and lately a polymer clay artist, I aspire to have my own voice some day. I know that I would like to do the same as you and other well known polymer clay artists have done, and that is sharing the techniques and thought processes in order to encourage others to find their own voice. Having seen what happened to you, it saddens me to know that I will have to keep a careful eye out for this kind of thing. I just wanted you to know that I find your characters delightful and truly appreciate the gift you have given the polymer clay community. A gift of excellence in the medium, and a hift of knowledge. I want to assure you that most of us understand that sharing your knowledge is not intended to provide us with the ability to copy your work, but instead is intended to be an example of skills and techniques that will hopefully give us the confidence to create our own special work. Again, thank you so much for your generosity.

Bonnie Irvine said...

Un-frigging-believable! To me, that is the height of deceit, dishonesty, and thievery. It's like stealing pieces of your soul and imagination for her own profit...way worse than theft of a material object. It's greedy, lazy, and despicable. I'm so glad you found out and followed up. May you never have to again! Love your art and where your imagination and creativity take me.

Jessica said...

Dear Caroline, as I read about this 'artist' stealing your creations, I got angry! How in the world would anyone think they had a right? I'm glad you were able to stop this person. I commend your not embarrassing her. The photos clearly show your work is much better. Sorry for your troubles. I love your work. Thanks,jessica

Stephanie Kilgast said...

Oh crap. She didn't even try to make these their won, she just made exact replicas. (albeit not as good as yours, that's still something, right?)
I have no words, so sorry about that for you :(

T&L said...

It's theft! Blatant, brazen theft. Shocking! Thank goodness for your observant fan Caroline, who brought it to your notice. I think you are being very professional not naming the thief.

Your work is unique and brings joy to us living far and wide. All the very best to you always! Xx

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