Urban Outfitters Takes Artist’s Artwork Found Online, Prints On Mini Skirt–Without Artist’s Consent!

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Artist James Soares aka Spires, sells his art prints and art designs printed on 3-D items in his store on the e-commerce site Society 6. Spires created the above side-by-side comparison of his artwork obviously used on the Urban Outfitters mini skirt.  On his Tumblr blog the artist is asking others to reblog his story and share. The Huffington Post wrote this article about the design printed on the mini skirt without the artist’s knowledge, permission, any licensing contract, or payment. The Village Voice published an article on the mini skirt design yesterday. In the comments from readers of the Huffington Post article, one artist wrote, “It’s happened to me. I had my painting “Arizona Sunset” turned into a print for a dress . . . flattering and maddening at the same time.”

According to other artists, and other news stories, Urban Outfitters has copied more than one jewelry design. A necklace in the shape of New York State with a heart cut out, that was designed by Etsy artist Stevie Koerner and available in his e-commerce Etsy store as part of his United States of Love line, appeared in a new Urban Outfitters line of the same name. Steve Koerner wrote, in part, “The World/United States of Love line that I created is one of the reasons that I was able to quit my full-time job.  They even stole the item name as well as some of my copy.”  The story of this design theft appeared, with photos, in the Huffington Post article Urban Outfitters Steal and on the artist’s Tumblr page as Not Cool Urban Outfitters.

Some non-artist commenters on the recent Huff mini skirt article bring up questions of originality. Are these original designs– a map of New York state, the heart shape, a landscape of an Arizona sunset in a painting, or the geometric triangle pattern in the artist’s print (the one obviously copied and used on the mini skirt)? Haven’t we seen these things before and aren’t they part of our collective consciousness owned by all?  Another question, does Urban Outfitters work with another company, BamBam, and are they responsible for the ripped off artist’s design on the mini skirt? Yet, it’s also reported  by The Brooklyn Paper, and in an article in The Village Voice that an Indie jewelry designer selling at a Brooklyn flea market found her designs sold as very similar items by Urban Outfitters. Are such artworks and designs deliberately searched for, copied and used by large companies for the very reason that they doubt small business owners have the resources to fight back? Can these artists prove loss-of-income or originality of design?

It is time-consuming for artist-owners of small businesses to pursue matters legally,  yet one artist that we featured in our blog last year did just that. She received a check in payment, compensating her for the unauthorized use of her artwork on three album covers. The lawyer she worked with was available free of charge via Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

I’ve always found the Huffington Post to be artist friendly–publishing artist news  and featuring quality art news columns by several writers. Is Huffington Post the largest news source to cover these matters for artists? The Village Voice supports artists with reports on these artist rip-offs as well.

I can’t help but wonder how many times they get away with it? That is, how many times do such infringements go unnoticed in relation to the few instances companies are caught in outright copyright infringement?

 

 

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Artist Found Her Paintings On Not One, Or Two, But on Three Music Album Covers! Uncompensated and Uncredited!

Yesterday, we posted a video on how to do a reverse image search using TinEye.  Artist Corrine Bayraktaroglu also alerted us to the online tool Google Reverse Image Search. She wrote: “Early in May, I had read somewhere that you can do a reverse image search on Google.  So I tried it, and was shocked to find one of my photographs on a slide show for school digital backgrounds. Doing a reverse image search can help you find your images even if the infringer has renamed the file or stripped away the data. I continue to find other images being exploited and used for music covers, in music videos, by art and craft companies, etc.”

So when Artist Corrine first learned of  Google reverse image search and gave it a try searching some of her own art images she found her artwork used on several sites without crediting her. What did she do? Corrine submitted DMCA reports or Take Down letters to each site requesting that they remove her uncredited art images.
But then the artist also discovered her portrait painting of her daughter reproduced on the Zearle Youthful Folly music album cover without crediting her or compensating her. “The really sad part is that I don’t get a lot of traffic on my blog, and my art sales are almost zero, so I really didn’t think too many people were interested in my work.  I guess I got that all wrong, huh!” says Corrine. She has openly shared the details of the misuse of her art image on this album cover by writing about it on her blog, and you can read her post here.
Zearle Youthful Folly music album cover

Zearle Youthful Folly music album cover

large version of Painting by artist Corrine Bayrak displayed in Street Art project

large version of portrait painting by artist Corrine Bayraktaroglu displayed in Street Art project

Corrine sent us a photo of her original easel painting portrait of her daughter. She keeps the painting in her home. Corrine wrote: “For privacy/professional reasons I don’t want to use my daughter’s name or photograph” published online at this time. The photo above shows a larger version of Corrine’s portrait painting of her daughter displayed in a street art project. However, the artist is convinced that the Zearle Youthful Folly album cover art is not only her easel painting version of the portrait, but also her own photograph of her easel painting that she had once posted to her blog and not a photograph of the street art version of her art. “Nobody could have taken the image (used on the album cover), the photo is based on an interior shot, the lighting would be a very different and a crisper version (of the image) had it been taken outdoors. Plus the person responsible has admitted to using my photo in his email to me. When I posted the photo online it was blurred (just as on the album cover),” Corrine wrote to us.

The artist has now become proactive when sharing her art images.  Corrine wrote that when she started her blog 6 years ago, ” like any fairly new artist I wanted to promote my work. I made the mistake early on of putting out higher resolution pics.” Later, she posted only lower resolution photos of her work and eventually began using– ” a variety of means to try to protect my photographs and images of my paintings: using right-click features on my blog, reducing the size of the image, sometimes putting on a small watermark of my full name or an initial stamp with CB on the online version of the images.”  For the most part she was able to keep track of the use of her images. She sent out cease and desist notices when needed. “I kept regular track of my work, but regular searches didn’t expose the current crop of images.”  Only by using the reverse image search tool did Corrine make her discoveries. She has since deleted her Flickr account, removed many images from her Facebook page and her Picasa album, and put the bulk of her blog entries into draft mode.  “I have taken screenshots of infringing sites and made HUGE changes on my site. I’m vigilant about filing DMCA reports and have asked Google to remove some of my images, plus I’ve added a no pin (Pinterest) meta tag to my blog.”

This artist is fighting back in other ways too! And you can help her get visibility and raise awareness by sharing this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites using the share buttons at the bottom of this post. Also, visit the artist’s blog for more details–  http://jafabrit.blogspot.com

When Corrine Bayrak contacted Artist Marketing Resources, we shared copyright resources with the artist. As we were discussing options, the artist  discovered another of her artwork reproduced on a second music album cover  produced by Prospect Records

Prospect Records album cover

Prospect Records album cover

Corrine Barak's Spin Art hanging on the wall of her home

Corrine Baraktaroglu’s Spin Art hanging on the wall of her home

Read the artist’s blog post about the misuse of her art, here: http://jafabrit.blogspot.com/2013/05/how-did-my-spin-art-painting-end-up-on.html
Then Corrine found another of her Spin art paintings on yet another album cover! Read her latest blog post–http://jafabrit.blogspot.com/2013/05/another-one-of-my-spin-art-paintings-on.html
Show your support! Leave comments and share this blog post.
UPDATE! Latest Update–this just in from artist Corrine Bayraktaroglu :
Marie,

My journey into copyright infringement is getting weirder– a wiki site mistakenly listed one of my spin paintings as being done by Damien Hirst and then I find a news article about a man arrested trying to sell fake Hirst paintings to Sotheby’s.

http://jafabrit.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-am-not-damien-hirst.html

ps. I think my daughter has the spin art painting depicted in the news article hanging in her garage LOL.

Concerning Artist Copyright : Tips on How to Keep Tabs on Your Art Images Online

Keep tabs. See what people are pinning from your blog by going to: http://pinterest.com/source/YourBlogURL

 and

Do a reverse image search of your jpeg art images.

You can do a reverse image search using TinEye http://www.tineye.com

This little kid explains how to do a reverse image search–

If you have found your art used by others without your permission, here are some organizations that can help–

Join Creative America united against content theft organization  http://www.creativeamerica.org