No way around it, when we publish photos on the net, display work in a gallery or museum, sell work at a studio tour, or in any way make our art public, there are people who are going to copy it, or at least try to copy it. There are even some who will copy it and say it's their own.
The worst offender for me was a student who copied my handout (word for word, plus the drawings!) for my beaded button class and made up kits with my instructions as the main feature. She sold the kits to quite a number of bead shops over a period of a year or so before I learned of it.
If you prefer posts with images, please scroll down to the previous posts... This one is all words...Another student in the same class, called to tell me about it. She also reported it to her local bead society and made it her business to call all the bead shops, asking them not to carry the kits. I don't know what happened after that.
The truth is: her kit sales did not hurt me in any way (OK, except my pride). I still had and continue to have more teaching offers than I can manage to accept. I still teach the button workshop at filled-to-capacity levels. Nobody ever accuses me of stealing the idea from my student's kits (ha ha).
The way I figure it is this... It's a mighty big world. And there's an unfathomable amount of art in it. There's room for everybody and everything, including copycats.
That's the simple conclusion. It originally came from my artist friend, Carol Berry, who once said: "People copy my ideas. But I don't really care, because by the time they do, I'm already onto something else." Well, that's how I remember what she said... not an exact quote. It sticks with me as basically true.
The other thing that seems important to me is art vs. guns. Yep, art, most of it, in my opinion, is a peace agent, one of the best we have. It's an antidote to war, greed, fear, prejudice and inhumanity. I believe in putting as much art as possible into the world. That's one reason why, when the current printing of my books runs out, I'm going to make them available as free downloads. My first book, One Bead at a Time, is already available for free (here).
I put images (not itsy-bitsy ones, not protected or water-marked ones) of my art on all my blogs, my website, Flickr and Facebook. Other people copy them and put them on sites like Pinterest and sometimes I see them on personal blogs and other sites. Sometimes folks attribute the art, quote and/or photo to me; sometimes not. Today, I'm weighing in as not caring. Today, I'm grateful for every peaceful, soulful, contented thought that happens as a person, somewhere in this world, views my art/photo. It's the only way I know to bring more harmony into the world.
Just today, I joined Creative Commons, which is a way to publicly license my words, my art and the photos of it, allowing free use for non-commercial purposes with attribution... might as well give a little structure to what I believe anyway.
What about you? What are your thoughts about copycats?