#310 What to Do When Someone Blatantly Copies You
If you’ve had someone blatantly copy your work before, you know how frustrating it can be.
There are a million questions running through your head, but the biggest one is “What do I do?”
This problem is all too common as an artist trying to make a living online. In fact, it’s so common that groups of creators have started banding together to address the issue and fight back.
All three of these talented business owners have had to deal with people blatantly copying their work online.
Today, they sat down with me to talk about their experience fighting plagiarism and offer some practical tips on how to protect your business and your brand.
Educate Your Audience
Michelle Prebich – Bat in Your Belfry
When someone blatantly rips off your design, it’s tempting to blast them online and stir up as much anger as possible.
That is not the right way to do things. But that doesn’t mean you should stay quiet about it, either.
Michelle Prebich, founder of Bat in Your Belfry, has had plenty of experience with scammers openly ripping off her copyrighted designs and reselling them on sketchy websites.
“It’s like a hydra,” she says, “You cut off one head and another pops up.”
In Michelle’s case, the seller is likely not even recreating her designs, but just scamming people out of their money.
While she does her due diligence to report these fake listings when she sees them, she also goes out of her way to warn her audience about them and raise awareness about the situation.
Drawings are all copyrighted. Enamel pin design that’s fairly popular and was the only one.
“Some things are out of your control,” she continues. To her, it’s important to work through each situation to the best of her ability and focus on educating her audience.
Put A Little of Yourself Into Everything You Do
Alex Camacho – Acid Queen Jewelry
Sometimes the people who copy your work don’t even realize what they’re doing is wrong.
They could just be ignorant, or they could genuinely have forgotten where they saw the idea originally.
Artists are all inspired by other artists, but there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism.
Founder of Acid Queen Jewelry and Momentum grad Alex Camacho has a simple rule to protect herself from this issue.
“I always modify something at least three ways to make it my own,” she explained.
Not only does this protect her from accidentally plagiarizing another artist, but it also makes it easier to identify when someone else plagiarizes her.
Plus, it’s an excellent exercise in creativity.
Do Your Research & Know Your Options
Arielle Salsa – The Pretty Cult
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid being plagiarized, you do have options.
Arielle Salsa, founder of The Pretty Cult, runs a very art-heavy brand. She trademarks all of her designs, whenever possible.
This gives her a little more leverage when she has to call out a copycat.
“Come in with a nice tone,” she says. Arielle will usually send a private message that says something like:
I appreciate that you were inspired by my design, however it is copyrighted and you’re monetizing it. This is an infringement of copyright law.
In her experience, this approach tends to produce the best responses from copycats and plagiarizes.
If that doesn’t work, she will need to contact an attorney. Luckily, it hasn’t come to that yet.
This is a complex topic, and this inspiring panel of entrepreneurs brought so much insight to the table, I can’t fit it all into one blog post.
Listen to the full episode above for more tips on how to be proactive and protect yourself from theft, plagiarism, and copycats.