What an interesting week this has been. I decided to add some of my "Wash Tub" drawings on as downloadable art on my Etsy Shop. In hindsight, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable about having the actually artwork available in that format. It makes it very easy to steal. I've actually received a number of comments recently on my Facebook feed advising me to "Copyright or better Watermark" my art as "Soap Makers" specifically were going to use it for their labels. No offense meant to soap makers reading this, I'm just telling you what I've been told.
I do know, as an artist, that all my original art I create is automatically my "Intellectual Property" and is legally protected from unauthorized use. Taking the time to get an official copyright on your art would probably make winning an infringement court case easier but I don't believe it is completely necessary. I'm not a lawyer but that is my understanding. I actually had already created an account with eco.copyright.gov website and had listed 10 of the 13 wash tub drawings there with the intention of having them copyrighted. I stopped the process midstream because I didn't realize that they had implemented a much higher fee structure recently and it now costs $85 to copyright 10 visual art images when before it was $35 for a whole file folder full. I assumed I had answered something incorrectly so I decided not to proceed to the check out.
Who knew that low and behold, just a few days later, I would be faced with that exact "unauthorized use" issue myself. I had a recent Etsy sale and when I looked at this Etsy customer profile I immediately noticed she was a previous SOAP MAKER. (Alarms and Bells began ringing in my head!) There was also an Etsy Shop linked to her name so I took a little peak at her listings and was immediately greeted with shower curtains and bath mats all covered with my artwork! She didn't even take my name off the image.
Now, she claimed she thought it was okay and that I didn't actually say in my listing that the files were for personal use only. Of course that isn't true. I clearly communicated that fact about 2/3rds of way down in my listing description but obviously she didn't read or didn't think she was going to be caught. I contacted her immediately and to her credit she pulled the 10 listings down but had the nerve to ask me for a refund.
The popularity of this series is making me rethink a few things. I'm doing a better job of putting a watermark right in the middle of my smallest files to discourage future thievery. I've also thought about making the image more of a poster design rather than my 100% my pure artwork. Here is two of my more recent drawings wash tub drawings, "Rooster Cluckburn" and "Bathing Broodies".
1. WATERMARK your artwork- I created a file in Photoshop that give me 4 color choices for my watermark. I add it to the top center of my smallest print at 50% opacity.
2. USE ONLY LOW RESOLUTION IMAGES-
3. USE GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH TO MAKE SURE YOUR IMAGES ARE NOT BEING USED WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.- Just like searching for words in Google you can also search images by choosing the little camera icon. You then upload the image you want to search for and it will give you all the examples where that image or a similar image is found.
Today, I came up with this bathroom poster format using the rooster and the hens. I have included the 4 colors all available on my Townco Studio Etsy Shop as printable art. I think they turned out cute and hopefully there will be Etsy Shoppers that want to purchase the files from me.
Just a little side note: I learned something today. To be able to print the "cent" sign like I wanted on the above poster designs, I found out that if you hold down the alt key on a PC and type 0162 it is the keyboard command to give you that ¢ symbol. How cool is that?