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Constant Copyright Infringement for Artists and Creatives

In my online life, I often come across artists, cartoonists, and other creative people fighting an ongoing battle against constant copyright infringement. Their fans regularly spot and alert them that their work and illustrations being ripped off and used -- without any credit -- by others. Here are a few examples, and how you can help. 


Honestly, all of the people behind the examples I'm citing below attract WAY, WAY, WAY more fans and followers than I have. They don't need my help, at all, and yet as a fellow creative (words, not art ... at least not yet ... since I'm working on a kid's book about Mr. Stix), I have to say something.

Creative people work VERY hard, often for not nearly as much $$ as they are worth, so stealing their content without permission or credit or PAYMENT is NOT okay.

Constant Copyright Infringement, Example 1

My first real exposure to the issues of art theft came from Lili Chin, whose VERY famous artwork you've probably seen in all kinds of animal behavior settings. A few years ago, she sued Old Navy for copyright infringement. Looks like the case eventually settled, but it was a whole *thing for a while. It's the reason I don't shop at Old Navy anymore. If you click through, you can see how much the store's items look  JUST LIKE her illustrations. 

To see more of her work and product lines, visit Doggie Drawings or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Constant Copyright Infringement, Example 2

I also follow artist and cartoonist Gemma Correll whose distinct style and creativity, especially with mental health topics, really stands out. And, yet, people often crop out her signature and share her work without giving any credit at all. Her fans remain vigilant in helping her find these issues, especially on social media, but she has better things to do that keep chasing down the constant copyright infringement.

To see more of her work and product lines, find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

*I've asked for permission to share a little of Gemma's work. If I get the okay, then I'll add an image below this section.

Constant Copyright Infringement, Example 3

I came across this Instagram post recently from Ashley at Jonathan's Journal. It's an animated illustration that shows that the ears go OFF when the nose turns ON, particularly with hounds. 

You'll see in the image below that the bottom of the post says:

"NOTE: I made this years ago and I am bringing it back just to remind everyone that it is my work. My 1st version without the watermark has been circulating, and I am frequently running into issues with people, brands, and accounts taking my work without asking for permission (and sometimes worse — not crediting). So please, if you want to repost my work to your account, PLEASE ask first! This does not include using the reshare tool that IG and FB offers; that is ok because then it is still linked to my account. I however am not cool with screenshotting and reposting to your account without asking first. It’s not a compliment; it tells me you want to benefit from my work without working with me."

Ashley also does a podcast with some pals called Friends with a Dog and runs an Esty store with cute merch.

constant copyright infringement example image 2

Constant Copyright Infringement, Example 4

Just thought of another recent example. You likely saw versions of the "Don't Tread on Me" snake, the original of which is called the Gadsen design, that had been modified to reflect how many feel about the potential overturning of Roe vs. Wade. It looks more like a uterus and ovaries. 

It got shared a lot recently, with exactly ZERO credit to the artist. 

It took some digging, but I found that it was created by Anne Lesniak. You can find products with her design in her storefront on Society6's site, including masks and cute little zippered bags. 

Even Video Shares Without Proper Credit

I also see people sharing one of my friend's YouTube videos from 2010 without saying who created the video all the time, so I'm forever jumping into the comments to give her credit >> A Sheepdog Diary and her DVD A Well Balanced Pup.

That Time Someone Swiped a Photo of Lilly

It happens with photos too. People often think any image they find online is fair game. It isn't. Many years ago, one of our fans alerted me to a political group on Facebook using an image of Lilly, our original canine heroine, with the American flag for a post encouraging people to vote. I certainly support people voting, and at least it wasn't some partisan message I oppose, but still not cool to just grab my work.

As I recall, I went and posted ... "Holy copyright infringement, Batman." They apologized, but still.

Photography is a visual art. I literally minored in college in the Theory and Practice of Art, which included both photographic art history and photography studio classes. Heck, one of my professors said I could have a future as an art critic, so I'm no slouch. Notice he didn't praise my photos or artwork, just my thoughts on art and my writing. *wink

The hardest assignment? A life-sized pencil drawing of myself. One of my classmates drew herself naked. No joke. I drew myself in my PJs with my fav teddy bear from childhood.

constant copyright infringement example 3

How You Can Help

First of all, don't do it yourself. Always try to find the original source and share from there.

If you see people stealing artwork from creatives you like and follow, post a comment that gives the artist credit, by name and link if possible, and that says using others' work without permission or credit is NOT okay -- especially if they've specifically cropped out the artist's name. 

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.