40 COPYCAT THIEVES that have been seen
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Is the Copycat Problem a Small Fraction? With HUGE Impact?

Is the copycat problem a small fraction of the craft community?

Does any data prove the impact of this problem?

In response to the first question.....let's compare how our society as a whole addresses theft, robbery, and assault (as just three example crimes).  Each is a small fraction of what happens in your local communities. Yet, a great deal of effort and money is invested by your community in police, law enforcement, and courts to prevent crimes, enforce laws, and deter criminals.

So a relatively small number of criminal actions lead to real costs which impact the entire community adversely. 


With nothing more than a code of ethics, it is amazing that the arts community has self regulated itself as well as it has in the past.

BUT the internet and digital electronics have dramatically shifted how easily art and craft can be copied and distributed.  Ideas and images travel at the speed of light. Globalization and internet visibility have expanded these capabilities to a global scale.

The copycat problem is further compounded by cultural indifference from countries such as China that had no legal recourse through copyright laws until 1979.  However, artists and makers can use search technology to discover violations as well; violations that would have remained unnoticed just a short time ago. Every media and medium are dealing with these problems. 

Is there data to prove the impact of this problem?
There is no data. There is no art organization that collects this information. There is no art organization (that I know of) that has a policy on intellectual property. 

Who will enforce this policy?
We can not rely on others to enforce. We need to raise awareness for the ethical and legal issues. If we all at least demonstrate respect and understanding of current copyright laws it would be step in the right direction. 

The examples I have are from personal stories told to me by almost everyone I know. Sometimes I hear two stories of copycat theft in a single day. Usually it is at least one story a week. Most people are afraid to come forward. Like many victims of crimes, they wonder how they brought this on themselves.  Did they invite the crime by their naiveté or lack of vigilance?

Listen to the archived discussion about copycats and artistic piracy on Metalsmith Bench Talk with Jay Whaley. We covered a range of situations with some recommendations. There is no easy solution, no one answer that works for everyone, but neither can we make excuses. 

ASK-multicolorgreeyellowASK your questions here in the comments. Perhaps you have recommendations for how you handle challenging copycat situations.