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.
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