Monday, August 31, 2009

So Not Cool

UPDATED: I posted this, turned to feed my girls dinner & came back to see that the listings had been removed. Thanks for your help. Links to this seller's shop have been removed. However, let's continue the conversation. I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.

Hello Internet. We need your help.

Last summer we introduced some posters to our Sparkle Power shop and it's really been a blessing for our family. Our biggest seller's been the La La Love You poster. It's been featured on a ton of great blogs like ohdeedoh (Apartment Therapy's parenting blog), Babygadget, Tangled and True, Creature Comforts and c jane. We've literally sold reams of the things. Like I said, it's been a boon to our family and has gotten a lot of eyeballs directed toward our fledgling enterprise.

So I guess it was only a matter of time until we were ripped off. We were checking the Etsy front page before bed last night and had a little déjà vu hit us in the "Recently Listed" section there. How we managed to hit the front page at the exact right time to catch it is beyond me, but we did. Seems that a seller has produced a series of prints called "Oooh La La Love" that bear more than a passing resemblance to our beloved and popular posters.

But, like the man says, you don't have to take our word for it:


Reeeeeally sketchy, right?

Imitation's the sincerest form of flattery and all, but this is just ridiculous. If you look at either of her shops - the other prints aren't even close to the simple, bold and elegant design of our original. And to add insult to injury, she's got the gall to copyright her posters in their descriptions. Seriously?

Plus, she's asking more than double what we're asking for a letter-sized print. (Ours are $8 for letter-sized, $10 for tabloid ... buy yours today!)

Last night we sent a friendly but firm e-mail asking that she remove the listings. As of this evening, the listings still stand. We ask that if you believe these posters to be knock-offs of our posters, that you take the few minutes it will take to set up a free Etsy account (if you don't already have one) and send an e-mail to the operator of the shop, letting her know that stuff like this isn't cool. And if you'd like to go further, you can link to this on your blog, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr. Solidarity, people.

We really hate to do this. It feels mean. But at the same time, these posters represent a lot of hard work and to see them blatantly plagiarized is really heartbreaking, insulting and infuriating.

We love Etsy. We believe in Etsy. It's a culture made up of people - like us - who love to create. We have made a lot of friends through our work there. Please do what you can to make sure that this kind of stuff is not tolerated.

Thanks in advance for your help,
Team Sparkle Power

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe they have to have at least 30% differences to get away with it.

candi lyn said...

looks like it worked because i cant find the items when i click on your links. i totally understand your frustration!

Dylan said...

@ Anonymous: It's not a matter of "get[ting] away with it." It's a matter of scruples. It shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Melissa said...

What boggles the mind is that even if this seller managed to make a 30% change... how can she feel good about it? Still 70% stolen and 100% wrong.

Mr. Philippe said...

@anonymous nothing in the law gives a percentage ... as a first step, you can serve her a copyright takedown notice via e-mail.

Melissa said...

(Oops. Sorry, I'm always so slow getting my comments posted that I sometimes repeat things said by quicker minds. I basically made the same point as Dylan. Didn't mean to be redundant.)

Chasing Davies said...

Well, I like yours a lot better. I'm sorry that happened to you.

Leslie said...

power to the people, copycatting is very uncool, you are so right.

Lori said...

sorry to hear that candace and i am glad this worked out for u in the end. I cant believe the nerve. i know i said once i loved a print that was not urs u featured here and i said i would make one similar since i can for personal use but i would never copy someone and try to sell it. how rude.

Candace said...

With the success of this design we have actually been expecting this to happen sooner or later. It still shocked me at how upset it made me. I am super protective of this design. This one design has propelled our shop forward & provided our little family with much needed money. We depend on the sales of our La La Love You prints in order to have enough money to run our household. It goes beyond just copying a good idea. It's hurtful & rude & it shouldn't be found anywhere, let alone my beloved Etsy.

Melanie said...

i have never commented before, but i love your blog and read it often. my husband is an artist and several years ago, we noticed artworks on ebay that were *exact* copies of my husband's original works. we contacted our friend, who happened to be a lawyer, and she created a cease and desist letter that we emailed to the seller. not only were all of the artwork listings removed, the seller shipped us the artworks at his expense! they were being mass produced overseas, and there is no telling how many sold before we discovered them. good for you for taking control of the situation - i am glad it worked out for you! :)

Nikki said...

It's quite a bit shit and has happened to my friends quite a lot recently. :/

I'm glad you were able to resolve this :D

P.S. I'd rather buy yours ;)

xo

V and Co. said...

she's taken them down.
so good job!

Amber said...

WOW! all i have to say is "what the crap?"
glad this is all taken care of!

Penelope Anne said...

It's really sad that this happens so much! :(

rose said...

Disgusting, wrong & I'm glad they took them down.

pamela said...

i just went to her site to see if maybe it was a *mistake*. you know, maybe she had the idea too. only because i try to give people the benefit of the doubt... you actually seem that way too. anyway, when you look at all her other stuff it's COMPLETELY different! the styles are so unlike it's obvious she stole your idea. sorry this happened. i'm actually going to buy one of yours RIGHT NOW to make you feel better! take that copycat.

Candace said...

Oh, Pamela, you are too cute.
But you know we initially thought, "are we over reacting?" "is this really what we think it is?" and then looking at the style of her other work made us feel pretty confident that she leaned heavily on our la la love you design for hers. you are totally right, all her other stuff is completely different.

i've come across sellers before that have a very similar style to ours but never felt they were copying us. that wasn't really the case here.

KiKi MaRie said...

wow i'm sorry that happened to you, but i'm glad you got it resolved. i feel your pain it has happened to me before too. your print will go lovely in my living room and i can't wait to buy one! good luck in the future! xo

the fellers said...

I JUST read this on facebook and was SO bugged for you, then I got on blogger and read that it had been removed, I am so glad. I am sorry....those posters are seriously awesome, and I need to get some for Shon and I....he would LOVE them....You guys are awesome!

Shay said...

Candace, good for you guys to take a stand, I cannot believe that it happened!! Can you guys copyright yours, or have you already? It may be 30% different to some, but not to me, it is very clear where the idea came from. Keep us posted. Oh, and I agree with everyone else who said "I would rather buy yours".

Jessie said...

This happened to me once, and I was so filled with rage and nausea that I wasn't sure what to do with myself! You managed to present your case in a calm and concise manner - and I'm so glad it worked out. Hooray for Team Sparkle Power!!

Ambrosia Girl Jenn said...

Good for you for publicly and actively going after your copycat, and I'm happy to hear that she's pulled out. Hopefully she doesn't attempt to start again under a different alias.

Rachell Taylor said...

@pamela, "i just went to her site to see if maybe it was a *mistake*. you know, maybe she had the idea too. only because i try to give people the benefit of the doubt... you actually seem that way too. anyway, when you look at all her other stuff it's COMPLETELY different! "

I was worried when reading this that it might have been a mistake too. I've made lots of art at home and then found something too similar to feel proud about it, always wondering if I had subconciously seen it before and thought the idea was mine. I'm glad that you figured out the case and it's all settled. I hope if it was a mistake she at least apologizes and if it wasn't then she's deserves a lot more than a firm email.

cara. said...

agreed with rachell taylor. its easy to subconsciously get something into your head and then to later find out someone had already produced something like it. . . happens musically a lot at least. . .

i love your blog. i love your craft. i think you live such an admirable life. and your kids are lovely. and your ideas, as well (:

however, i would have maybe given her a little longer than a day to state her case before publicly turning your audience against her shop. we are all going to take giant measures to avoid purchasing anything from her all off of an assumption. i don't think plagiarism should be tolerated but i also don't think it's fair to potentially ruin someone's business by an assumption. :/

was she willing to respond to you at all in her own defense?

Candace said...

Cara,

I totally understand what you are saying. we sent her 2 e-mails & heard nothing back. Then almost as soon as we shared it with our readers, she took the prints down. We still have not heard anything back from her. Not a, "Oh my goodness! no. i can see how they look freakishly similar, but i didn't copy you or mean to."

which leads me to believe that we were right in feeling that she did use our design.

I actually like a lot of her other work. I can't say that i like the print in question. in my opinion is a bit all over the place. but i actually love this piece from her shop in particular: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=28726603

if you get me talking about etsy & handmade you would find that i am very emotionally connected & very passionate about both. not only did i feel this was an attack on our shop & the work that we are doing, but i felt is was an attack on so many personal ideals about a community & way of being that is a huge part of my life. i was pissed. and i think that a day was plenty of time. i know very well that she was checking her e-mail very regularly....because that's what you do when you have a grand opening of a new etsy shop. i don't feel bad about what i did. it may sound mean, but my stance on it is "she deserves it". this is not going to ruin her. if anything ruins her it will be karma.

Dylan said...

@Cara: We're not mean people. We assume the best in people, and we understand that sometimes, something you've made looks or sounds sort of like something else you may have stumbled across.

Which is why we gave her a day to e-mail us back, to just say *something,* before we took it to the Internets to plead our case. Like Candace said, if she's anything like us, she's checking her e-mails regularly, responding timely to convos, relisting, etc. Or maybe we're just too into Etsy.

In any case, that poster isn't similar, it's almost exactly the same with the words and elements shuffled around. Color, typeface (though hers is a squattier, Helvetica-ish face) and even heart shape. And after looking at the other items in both of her shops and the fairly damning side-by-side comparison, any doubt of inspiration versus plagiarism was removed from our minds. And like protective bears, we reacted quickly to protect our little brain baby cubs. So fuzzy, so defenseless.

And as far as "stating her case," we haven't received any sort of communication from her. At all. Not to either of the e-mails we sent previous to this posting and not since. The lack of response, while certainly not an admission of guilt, coupled with the swift removal of the listings after posting here, serves to confirm our, I think, sound judgment that this was more than a case of accidental inspiration.

I honestly wish her the best of luck. But if you are going to hijack somebody else's work, change it slightly and pass it off as your own, you're gonna get called out on it. By me, at least.

cara. said...

yeah. excellent points, guys. so glad you let us in the fact that she hadn't even, to date, emailed you back! :( not that you owed me an explanation but so glad you gave one!

and i honestly wasn't trying to offend you otherwise i would have posted anonymously. but my apologies if it was communicated incorrectly or seemed like it was coming from the wrong spirit.

maybe as passionate as you are about etsy/handmade, i am equally passionate about justice. so just trying to see things from both sides of the fence. by her lack of response, you're absolutely right, it DOES sound like your assumption has been proven correctly and that is so unfortunate.

well hopefully this won't stifle you in the creative internet world. we all love what you're doing so keep up the good work and thank you for sharing it with us!

Dylan said...

@Cara: No offense taken. We appreciate the dialogue. We weighed it like you did. We didn't want to do this. Honestly, we didn't.

And having just served a week of jury duty, I'm all charged up by sipping the sweet the juices of justice and am even more attuned to the fact that there are two sides to every story. Like we said, we gave her a chance to meet us halfway or explain in some way. A simple e-mail could have avoided all of this.

And don't worry, ain't nothin' gonna break-uh our stride. Ain't nothin' gonna slow us down. Oh no. Oh no. We got to keep on movin'. We have a few pretty cool things planned, so keep watching our shops.

Again, thanks for contributing to the discussion.

alliehoopes said...

Must say yours is classic and shouldn't really be recreated. Not for 20 years or so. Then it's like the 80s coming back so it's okay. Happy to have my real lalaloveyou poster in the living room, plus some fabric turned into girl skirts....then my favorite favorite baby quilt....then some pyrex...then the aqua/red garland.......yep, I'm a fan.

cara. said...

thanks guys!

varenia said...

wow, candace, I am just reading this and so sorry to hear about it! that totally sucks, and unfortunately, seems to be happening a lot lately. I have had to deal with it with several other sellers in the past year or so and it's always surprising how truly infuriating it is. the hardest part for me, has been when it comes time to release a new idea, part of me doesn't even want to put it out there because i know once it's out there in internet-land it has the potential of being ripped off, and that is a yucky feeling. :(

i'm so glad this has worked out for you! and i love the print, i've actually been eyeing it for my home as well :)

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