Dear Copyright Thieves,
Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's free for the taking. So let's just stop pretending the internet is a free-for-all.
Don't play the card that you didn't know - that's insulting. And don't also tell me that you meant to follow up and get permission but never got a chance to. That's insulting too. And by the way, don't you have a copyright protection notice on your own site?
And don't even try and point the finger at a third party who commissioned you to make a copy of my painting - again, an insult - you and I both know the difference between a reference photo and a painting.
And don't tell me that I asked for it because I share my artwork on the internet. I share my paintings and ideas and the stories behind them so as to encourage others to pursue their own passions. I do not share so that those lacking integrity and morals can copy and market the images as their own.
Don't waste your breath and tell me that imitation is a form of flattery. And don't try to flatter me further by saying you meant no harm. I know what you meant to do - you blatantly copied a copyrighted image and presented it as your own in an attempt to line your pockets in some way. And you thought you would get away with it.
So you've already gotten an individualized cease and desist note from my lawyer.
And now along with that mess, there's a couple other things you should start preparing for:
- Your entire website will be deleted from your host. They don't smile upon infringers.
- The infringing images are all being dumped from your online storefronts. Again, their terms of service agreements state they don't tolerate copyright violations, and a simple Google search showed me all the places where you were marketing your unauthorized copies of my paintings, selling prints of my pirated art, and using my stolen imagery to advertise your own product.
- And the infringing artwork will be removed from that juried exhibition - I called the exhibition space and spoke with the director personally. I imagine you'll be hearing from her too, because that award has been rescinded.
- I went ahead and emailed the professional affiliations listed on your website and alerted them to the fact that you have misrepresented your artwork. You'll most likely be hearing from them, too.
- I also took the liberty of letting the art guilds and spaces you teach at know that your recent workshops were based exclusively on artwork stolen from my website. I sent them all sorts of supplemental information, too, including an overlay of your recent demo paintings which are tracings of work I created years ago.
I suppose these are minor inconveniences, really. Because tomorrow you most likely will just look elsewhere for someone else's work to flagrantly misappropriate.
However, keep in mind that various artists groups and online communities watch each other's backs. The internet has made our world smaller, and it's just a matter of time before you are discovered and exposed. As a matter of fact, that's how I found you - another watchdog sent me a note with a couple of links.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot - just to err on the side of caution, I alerted several groups to your piracy, and shared saved images of your website inside their archives. So who knows - you might be getting personal introductions in the coming days to some other artists you cared enough about to "flatter" !!
Dear, dear copyright infringers, because you don't know how to create - you just know how to copy - you won't ever understand the thrill of pursuing your own ideas. How sad is that? And while you might call yourself artists, you're really just playing make believe.
I'm watching you now. As is a growing army of angry artists you've also taken advantage of.
We've heard the pathetic excuses too many times. We're not buying them anymore.
Proudly signed by an artist who prides herself on working hard and making an honest living,
Kimberly Kelly Santini
Dear Fellow Artists,
You have my complete and total permission to share this open letter in any format you choose.
Feel free to substitute your name or add any necessary bullet points.
Post it and links where ever you deem appropriate.
Don't be shy to announce to copyright thieves that you won't take it anymore.
United we stand!