In late January 2010, the winter issue of Metalsmith Magazine, Volume 30/No.1/2010 includes an Opinion article that I wrote titled, "COPYCAT, COPYRIGHT or COINCIDENCE". This publication should be at your newsstands or waiting in your local library. Subscribers of Metalsmith already have their issues.
I hope you get a chance to read the entire article in the magazine, but to facilitate a dialog on this blog, a summary of the opinion is presented below.
How often have you said or heard, “That looks just like . . . (some other artist’s) work.” The arts and crafts community is suffering from “copycat-ism” or more accurately, infringement of intellectual property or copyright infringement. It is infecting the entire art and craft community, from schools and universities to wholesale/retail shows, stores, galleries, books, and even award competitions.
The problem is not new … but the Internet has given this issue greater visibility, and at the same time, a viable path for advocacy to confront this issue.
For years major craft shows have grappled with this problem. But what about other situations such as commercially oriented wholesale/retail shows, galleries, websites, or other market venues? What about knock-off manufacturing? In my research for opinions, it seems that some imitators justify the production of copycat work with the fact that the originator is not in the same show. GASP! I envisioned the guys at Times Square showing me “Authentic Rolex” watches from the inner lining of their overcoats or Gucci bags at a flea market. So who loses? All of us are hurt by this practice.
The remainder of the article goes into more detail and outlines how we can help our community. In the next few posts, I will be offering a practical action plan, a few tips on how you can prevent this from happening to you, and two samples of Cease and Desist letters.
Vigilance and vocal opinions are necessary to help inform the arts community. Please share your tips and suggestions with others in the comments below this post and upcoming posts.
Do you have any experiences with copycat, copyright, or coincidence? I think the only way to deal with this is an open discussion.
Please feel welcome to leave a comment below.
If you have a lot to say (especially if you have images of originals and copycats or look-a-likes, as examples) you may ask to be a "Guest Author".
This post was updated on January 11, 2022.