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What to do when you discover a copyright violation of your artwork?

I own a dachshund, and I just love anything with a dachshund on it.  So imagine my surprise when I look at my Facebook feed, and there is an advertisement for a blanket featuring dachshund art.  But wait a tick...that's my dachshund art, specifically!  No less, said artwork is even the logo I use for my Etsy business!

But the company selling this fine blanket has never approached me for my permission to use said art.  I had never heard of them.  So I contacted Facebook to report a violation of my copyright, and provided them with all the evidence that this image, was in fact, created by me.  To which, I think the only remedy they will supply is to remove that particular advertisement.

Next, I looked up the company.  The only way to contact them was through email - customer service.  So I shot out an email explaining that they were violating my copyright with their one particular product, gave them my Etsy site address so they could verify that this was my artwork, and asked them to please stop immediately selling items with my artwork.  Unless, of course, they wished to contact me to purchase the rights.

However, I don't know how to proceed from here.  What if they ignore me, or tell me to go blow?  I don't have deep pockets, so I'm wondering if any of you know the best way to proceed from this point onward.

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The next question is whether they created that ad specifically for you or are using it for multiple possible sales to other dog lovers.

Larry Berman

I went to their website after viewing the ad, and the item is listed for sale just as I viewed it on my Facebook page.  So I think this item is being offered for sale to a wide market.  

Go to New Jersey. Find some guys with bent noses. Tell them the address of the company. Pay them. Problem solved.

Hahaha, wish I could!  This company's website only shows an email address for contact.  No phone number, no physical address.  Although the "about us" page talks about some woman in Maine as their owner, I suspect it is a Chinese company.

You might get them to take it down. Definitely do a screen capture and you might want to put it up on your web site (or Facebook) to embarrass them if they don't remove it.

I've done that to companies that believe if it's on the internet, it's free, and nothing you can say will change their mind.

Larry Berman

Yeah, that might be my best course, Larry.  I suspect the company may be based in China, and we all know how well they respect copyrights.  Maybe I can at least get them to give me some free blankets - they are cute.

So here's an update!  Facebook sent me notification that they have removed the advertisement.  I did some more research and found that this company is registered in Toronto, Canada.  They have sister companies called Ninety Fabric and Go Madness.  Go Madness is listed as being at 15192 West State St., Westminster, CA  92683.  There are no phone numbers listed for any of the companies.  I sent emails to all iterations of this company, and did get a response to one message apologizing and asking what product is was and where they could view my use of the artwork.  However, I don't expect them to do anything further.  

I also did a reverse image search on Google to see where else my image might be.  If you never have done this, you should...very surprising!  I found the image pinned through various Pinterest users, but no one knew it was mine.  My fault, I guess, as this was one of my first images created as a professional artist, and I photographed and posted it on FineArtsAmerica without a watermark or my signature.  Lesson learned.  Another artwork of mine appears in a Russian language YouTube video, lol!  That one, however, prominently displays my signature.

A whois lookup of their domain names might get you a phone number.

Larry Berman

Thanks, Larry.  I gave it a try, but no phone number.  However, something else interesting shows up...their registration for the domain name expires on 12/4/19.  So I think they are probably a scam company all the way around.  I wouldn't be surprised if the people who ordered products from them off of Facebook end up being disappointed with the products, the service, or both; or even if they never receive their items!

could be that they are paying for their name on a yearly basis and it automatically renews. That's how I set up the domain names I own.

Larry Berman

An idea, you can follow the real estate thread, that is, since you have an address, who owns the building at that address? You can go to the county clerk and recorder, usually on line, search the property records and find out who owns that building. Then you can go from there.

Takedowns used to be easier in the early days of the internet. One time an employee of a large aerospace military contractor copied a photo of mine and posted the photo on ebay. After a series of emails to the chairman of the board, and pentagon liason, for this company, rather than threatening it was a 'what the heck are you doing?', the photo, and the employee, were both removed.

So hang in there, take downs do work. 

Another approach is to actually license the photo to the thief's competitor. Then let the competitor enforce the licensing by harassing  the thief. Costs less, and your customer (the thief competitor) might actually enjoy the enforcement proceedings.

So, what company out there might like to have your photo on blankets, socks, whatever? The thief has already proven the marketabiity of the photo.

It sounds like you are on this.

My experience was in reverse, I posted a thread here on my experience. A company had etsy take down my work at their request. I hired an attorney because I was completely right but it was/is difficult to defend without committing to spending a bunch.

If you want to use a DACA takedown notice it should work if it is for a shared website such as facebook. They should be like etsy and remove immediately as they don't want to be involved. 


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