THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS THE VICTIM OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

I have, unfortunately, loads of experience having my artwork stolen by corporations (and individuals) internationally. It's been over ten years since I last had a year without lawyers trying to help me get my artwork back. mostly I'm not allowed to talk about the details of the cases, so let me talk about what it's like.
  1. Imagine that you spent some amount of time and weaving your personal history to create something original.
  2. That you took the risk of going to art school to develop the skills to do exactly this and nothing else.
  3. Then imagine, ONE DAY, seeing an unauthorized trace of it seemingly drawn by a five year old available in 2000 stores overnight all across the US, selling for literally a total of over ten million dollars in revenue
    probably it was the work of an intern who google image searched something lazily and thought their copy was "different enough" when they presented it for production.
  4. While you work 16 hours a day out of a 64 square foot room in your home
    trying to survive a creative career that will last you until you basically die, which seems like an impossible task anytime you take a moment and notice your wrists are always swollen from overuse, and your eyes are so much weaker, and other artists just seem to quit after awhile or they all live in Portland where it's cheap, but seriously why are there so few of us in our 30s? will I be able to do this when I'm 50, 60? I won't make it to 70. I already know that.
  5. Maybe you'll see this knockoff in Hot Topic ✔️
    it happened to me (really the band The Postal Service and their management company were to blame on this one)
  6. Maybe in Fred Meyer ✔️
    it happened to me
  7. Maybe in Borders ✔️
    it happened to me
  8. Maybe in Top Shop UK ✔️
    it happened to me
  9. Maybe in OVS in Italy ✔️
    it happened to me
  10. 🆕 Maybe in Francesca's ✔️
    it is currently happening to me
  11. So you find some benevolent lawyer willing to represent you David v them Goliath
    and it's like 100000000x harder and more expensive internationally
  12. And when people hear about it they say:
  13. 🚫 "it's a compliment!"
    it isn't. it's theft and it sucks in every way possible.
  14. 🚫 "that's how you know you're successful!"
    except I'm not. literally the only thing it tells you is "that's how you know you've been stolen from."
  15. 🚫 "lawyers are scum/greedy"
    not my lawyers! seriously they have seen me at my worst, ugly crying on a week of not sleeping because I was so anxious and upset about a court hearing. they are on my side. sometimes they are the ONLY ONES WHO KNOW THE HELL I LIVE IN WITH THIS and I am grateful that they can read complicated documents and speak on my behalf without freaking out.
  16. 🚫 "copyright shouldn't exist / is frivolous"
    I assume the people who think this have 401k's and 9-5 jobs and have never taken a creative risk in their entire lives if they feel nothing and no one should protect artist's original works. I also assume they hate art and artists, writers and books, musicians and music, because what a stupid and insensitive thing to say.
  17. 🚫 "yeah but you're going to get a lot of money out of it!"
    if you think this, you are delusional and uninformed. corporations have in-house legal whose sole role is to do as little as possible to end problems as quickly as possible. the one time I was awarded a decent settlement that might have actually softened the blow, the company filed for bankruptcy & I didn't get it -- which they knew would happen when they offered the settlement.
  18. 🚫 "what great exposure, though!"
    No. an unauthorized, crappily rendered, cheaply made copy, made in China for 1/100th the cost and sold at bargain basement pricing is not good exposure. it's not actually exposure at all, because it doesn't have my name on it, even if I wanted it to. and if it were exposure, it's certainly not good exposure as who wants to associate their life's work with a lack of quality and care?
  19. 🚫 "maybe this will open the doors for you to work with (thieving company)"
    no, the doors were actually already open and they chose to steal from me instead.
  20. 🚫 "nothing is original"
    I think this is the most heartless (and untrue) thing you can say.
  21. 🚫 "it's not a big deal"
    yes, it is. it's the kind of thing that makes me question what the point is to anything in life. why anyone tries to create anything new. it is enough to make someone feel their entire existence is useless and unsupported. it is personal. it is miserable. it is the most stressful experience I've ever had in my life.
  22. 🚫🆕🚫 "You're overreacting" / "you're still upset about that?" / "what's wrong? oh, still that?"
    you are ********IN NO WAY******* entitled to tell me how to feel or when to feel it or be "over" it. even if this happened to you. (though if you've said this, I'm sure it hasn't) THIS IS SO FAR FROM HELPFUL to try to shame me into where *you* think I should be focusing my attention. you think you're being supportive and that's the worst part.
  23. 🚫🆕🚫 That's how you know you've made it!"
    Oh, oops! You're right! Wait, what is "it"? by "it", do you mean unrelenting work hours for less than minimum wage in the name of labor of love? Yeah, you quipping "I made it" is shitty and probably exactly what the person who stole from me told themselves to justify stealing from me. in short, success of any kind doesn't- perceived or real-doesn't offset being stolen from. this is the equivalent of "well, she was dressing provocatively" vs assault
  24. 🚫🆕🚫 "I could make that" / anyone could do that"
    no, you couldn't AND shouldn't. I think what you mean is "I could steal that / anyone could steal that" to which I feel sad that you lack so much compassion to condone you yourself doing this, clearly something horrible happened to you in formative years. (credit: @piperewan on Twitter for suggesting this one)
  25. 🚫 implying in any way that an artist is greedy for pursuing their rights or defending their artwork.
    justice is not greed. and if you say this, you are an a-hole. 🏆 congratulations, now you know
  26. the only thing I want to hear is:
  27. ✅ "I will never buy from that thieving, piece of shit company again"
  28. ✅ "I am so sorry you are going through this"
  29. ✅ "What can I do to support you?"
  30. ✅ "How can I help?"
    for one, make sure that piece of shit Orphan Works legislation doesn't pass that takes copyrights (even registered copyright) away from their owners if they're deemed too "hard to locate" (i.e. if their work was basically posted to tumblr without permission)
  31. ✅ "I love your artwork and I would be so upset if this happened to me, too"
    thank you to @brittmaag for saying this.
  32. ✅ "good for you for sticking up for yourself. you are setting a positive example for other artists and companies alike"
    thank you to @brittmaag for saying this (plus some stuff I added), too.
  33. ✅ "Let me be your lawyer. I will defend you ⚔🛡🗡 I will not make you feel like I'm doing you a favor for doing my job for our agreed upon rate, and I won't really charge you very much either"
    my favorite response of all