Hey guys. I've written about copyright law in the past, but there are some things I just.. never thought to mention. However now that Sarah and I are working together, we're dealing with several types of art theft at once. Everything from the recast dolls situation (where someone buys your doll, makes casts of it, then sells it to the public. Yes this is illegal, more on that later), to someone submitting my art to a game company as their own for a job. In many cases we are dealing with ignorance, so I thought I would clarify a few things.
This is going to take a while.
The Recast Situation
There is a new trend in the ball jointed doll industry, where people are taking dolls and sending them to 'professional recasters'. These people then make a mold of someone's doll, and recast it. They then proceed to sell the doll to their customers. The artist receives no compensation for this, nor is allowed to even have a say in anything from the quality of the resin, to the color, to if this should even happen. There is heated debate on both sides, and it's been breaking my heart to find out that many friends were not fully educated on copyright law, and were beginning to think that this was an acceptable practice.
Now, Grace, who is the artist of Jpopdolls, has hired a lawyer to deal with the situation regarding the recasts of the dolls. THAT is a piece of work that you should all read and learn about, and I will link the letter from the lawyer breaking this all down. The reason I ask you to educate yourselves on this is because people can sound very, very, very persuasive when they are doing something wrong. But the act of buying a doll that you *know is stolen*.... makes you an accessory to the crime. And I assure you it is actually considered a crime. So please, please before you buy something you know is a 'knock off', make sure you know exactly how the law stands on issues like this. If not for the artist, for yourself in case the artist (like Grace), chooses to pursue legal action.
This is the letter. Please read it thoroughly and pass it along to others. This is real and legitimate information about copyright law that is important to know. www.jpopdolls.net/images/lette…
The biggest thing I want to say is.. when in doubt? Don't take the word of the person you are doubting. Research it. Look into both sides. If one side is using copyright law of the fashion industry, or things that have nothing to do with the subject at hand, then back away slowly. I say this because *fashion law does not apply to other art forms*. The laws are different depending on what the medium/artform is. If you aren't 100% sure, then better to be safe then sorry, you know?
But recasting doesn't hurt the artist!
This has come up several times from several people. I want to correct this interpretation now. It hurts the artist. It hurts their current career *and their future career*. The catch with doll artists is that they rely on the resale value of their dolls.
What's this? But Jessica! The artist gets nothing from the resell of a doll!
That's not entirely true. What the artist receives is proof of value. This is wildly important to collectors who both love the dolls but *also* want to have a valuable collection. People will choose to buy limited edition dolls with the assurance that they will not be re-released, because over time their value not only holds, but increases. Think of it like buying antiques. They are worth some now, but in later years they are worth so much more to collectors because they are rare and precious.
How this affects the future of the artist is that once they have established that their dolls hold value *by the way they sell in the resell market*, future dolls are desired and purchased regularly. It is possible for an artist to build a very successful career based in part on how well their dolls hold value over time. But to do that, this means certain things have to be in place. The doll has to be quality. The resin can't break down in a few years, rendering the doll's value moot. The doll can't just be an easy commodity, open to the public. It has to be no longer offered. If a doll is limited, it's a rare item. If a doll is not, then resells are of 'used' dolls (because you can buy a new one for x amount of dolls, so why pay more for one that was opened?), and the price is generally lower. The doll no longer holds their resell value. Are you starting to see where recasts of limited dolls hurt the resell value? Why buy a limited edition El doll that's no longer available, when you can get a recast for next to nothing? In fact.. why buy the doll from the artist *at all*, when re-casters sell it for cheaper?
It doesn't take long to take an already fragile business and cause it to crumble. Even the 'big' companies are playing a delicate balance of making sure all their bills are met, their employees are paid and they have enough going that they can continue selling the dolls. Because dolls are NOT a necessity for living, it's a fickle business and a sculpture that's not appealing to the audience can result in a huge loss in money, sometimes even a business destroying loss.
There are other effects to doll artists when their work is stolen, but I would like to move on to another subject now.
"Borrowing" art for portfolios
Welp, I've talked about dolls. But now I want to talk about something else. A situation has come up not too long ago where a young lady placed pieces of my work in her portfolio, that she then submitted to a gaming company for consideration and review.
This has happened in the past, with people submitting my work as their own for things like college applications, gaming jobs and so on. The response I've gotten from them when confronted was usually "Well it's not like it hurt you or anything".
I want to address that now.
The effect of portfolio theft on the artist
It hurts the artist in really subtle ways. For example, when I applied for the visual art's institute a second time to continue my career, the dean recognized my work. Why? Because someone had used it weeks before and gotten accepted into the school. They proceeded to lecture me on theft, and fraud, and I was declined from the school outright. It took months for me to get the dean calmed down enough to show her my body of work and prove to her that I was not a thief, was in fact the legitimate artist. Then she had to find the artist who DID lie, and had to do a ton of pretty horrendous paperwork and legal crap to remove her from the school.
I did not end up continuing my education. It was my personal choice, but it took so much out of me to get this done, that I was worn out and simply didn't want to continue. This was years ago but it still burns me to this very day.
In the case of people who use your work for gaming companies, it puts the company at very real risk. I assure you that if I saw my work on their games, I would come after them for theft. Then that would involve a very,very, very expensive court battle, and a loss of my creative time. That art that is so precious and worth enough to that person that they stole it? I cannot create more of it while I'm going to court regularly to deal with this issue. The company that is liked enough that this person wants to work for them? They can't release/continue selling that game while the legal issues are taken care of. Both sides lose a great deal of money, more then the thief received/will lose (because they will end up in the court case too). It hurts, but it's something we would have to do in order to protect ourselves. (the person who submitted my work to the gaming company did not know that the company owner's daughter a. knows me and b. has watched me painting. So she was busted immediately. Not all artists and gaming companies are that lucky.)
A friend of mine tried to apply to a company as one of their illustrators who does t-shirt designs for their company. She submitted her art.. and was promptly rejected. She found out later that it was because *her design was already on their competitors t-shirts* and they thought she was trying to be underhanded. It took a great deal of time to sort out the mess, get the stolen art off of the other company's shirts, and get things straightened out. But by the time it was done? The job had already been offered to someone else and she missed out on a great opportunity.
Just think. That's all I can ask anyone to do. Please think. Artists defend their copyright, not because they are 'greedy' or 'zealots'... but because they have to. When we work in this industry, what happens to our art has far reaching consequences that only the artist can really analyze and work with. It's more then just the art.. that piece of work that was put on a pro gay hate board without the artist's consent can result in difficulties for them later, perhaps even very real physical harm (this also happened to a friend). It can ruin contracts, destroy reputations, fragment the value of the artist's work.
I understand that art is a wonderful thing, and it's natural to desire it, want it in your hands and on your walls. And I get that it's easy to think 'it's just a drawing' or 'it's just a doll'. Too many people think of artists as not actually being a real job or a real business. The fact is.. it is a real job. It's a real job with consequences that are not easily seen on the surface. And when we reach out and say "Stop." It's not to try and hurt you, and certainly not over something petty. It's because we have to, this is our livelihood.
So please care for your artists
When I researched moving to another country, I found something interesting.
Artists are considered cultural assets. In the immigration paperwork on DOZENS of countries, an artist is often as valued as a doctor or a scientist. Just like them, the artist has to prove their worth, show that they are truly a creature of creation and expression that moves the world. But the important part is *they are a cultural asset*. They are an expression of the uniqueness of our civilization. A country's value as a civilized society goes up *if they are rich in art, music, dance, CULTURE.* Tourism increases when countries have these things, when the beautiful art and sculptures lure them, the native dances, the incredible expressions convince them to step out of their country and come to another.
Protect them. Protect them, value them, cherish them. They are what brings light and beauty to the world, be it dance, music, art, sculpture. There is no limit to the beauty and creativity that will be your reward for their care. No price that can be put on the joy and inspiration that you will feel when you look at what has come from their gifts. That's what an artist gives to the world, and you. That's why they are a cultural asset. It's as close to magic as we will ever get in this world, so take it and keep it safe.