This morning, several people alerted me to yet another website that has stolen an image of mine. This one is slightly different than the dozens of other sites that have stolen my images to use to sell their copies of my beads - but I will go into that later.
This website - Indian Bead Store, aka Dev Exports has taken the below image and used it on their main website.
|Midnight Mermaid bead set, made in June 2009|
I can, of course, prove these beads are mine, because I have several other photos of them that aren't published online. I also know what they're made of, how they're made, and can point to the fact that they carry my artistic voice.
I also talked about these beads in my post about CiM Mermaid, added to this blog in December 2009 (originally written in June, and moved over from my old Word Press blog).
Now, I'd like to talk a little about how people have responded to my many discussions about this kind of thing over the years, because I just need to get a few things off my chest.
First, I know most people are just trying to be helpful - and I really do appreciate that. However, there are a few things being said to me that just don't help at all.
"It's because your beads are so beautiful!" - This comment (and its variations) is incredibly kind, but misguided. The people who lift my images to use as marketing for their own work do not do so because of the beauty of my beads. They do so because it is easy. My website is www.lampwork.net. A simple search for lampwork brings up my website and all the images therein. I think the image thieves are looking for a quick and easy way to design their websites, and my images are right there, easy to lift.
Other artists don't have this problem nearly as often, because their website URL's are often their names or business names. I have thought of changing my web address, but I have had lampwork.net for over ten years. It's established, and I think it would hurt my business to move. But I am still considering it.
"You should be flattered!" No. No I shouldn't. I get no credit for the image, my name is nowhere on the site. The images are usually taken because it is easy (see above), and because they think they can copy the beads. Often, they do. This not only hurts my business, it makes me feel used and tossed aside. Yes, it's true that I should grow as an artist and make beads that are harder to copy. I know this. It's hard to grow as an artist when things keep happening that thwart motivation, though.
"You should watermark your pics!" Yes, I tried this for years, but people were able to lift the images, remove the watermarks and proceed to post the images wherever. A passing familiarity with photo editing software makes this pretty doable. So I stopped watermarking my pics because I think watermarks are ugly.
I've also had people over the years post and email me that talking about this does no good, and is pointlessly negative. To those people, I say "Bite me". Talking about it not only helps me vent the anger and frustration and hurt - it also informs others that this is happening.
Legal action is not possible for me (overseas, expensive, etc), so all I can do to get some recourse is inform others. Posting about this online is the only way I can keep the issue relevant, and maybe stop people from buying from stores that refuse to do their own work and earn their keep legitimately.
I can't offer customers beads that are as cheap as those on an exporter's website. But I can explain that they are not going to get what they see there, at all. Not even a little bit.
Now, I promised to explain why this particular website is different from the dozens of others that have stolen my images. Here's why - Indian Bead Store and Dev Exports also sell glass rods. More specifically, they sell something called "Dev Glass". Looking at this glass on their website, it seems that this might be Devardi glass - an indian glass company that came on the market a few years ago.
I am not a fan of Devardi glass - their company or their business practices, and to have my beads on a website that sells this glass really makes me sick. Plus, as a seller of this glass, which is used to make beads, this company should know better than to steal an artist's images to use as marketing for their own stuff. It's a slap in the face. This website - Indian Bead Store/Dev Exports seems to be affiliated with Devardi glass. If they are not, it's a huge coincidence.
At any rate, I would like to implore you, the bead buyer, collector and user, to refrain from buying from any website that steals artists' images for use as a marketing ploy, please. And spread this around if you feel like helping me out. I would really appreciate it.
I'm done ranting for today - thank you for reading.
***Note - I received a very rude email from the owner of Devardi insisting they are not affiliated with this company. I am not certain whether or not I believe him. He threatened legal action. However, it's completely legal for me to state my opinion. I am still of the mind that this is no coincidence, but if I am wrong, well, I am wrong. I doubt that, though. I am still not a fan of Devardi, and never have been - something which I am completely within my rights to insist.