COPING WITH COPYCATS: Getting Past the Fear of Being Copied

It’s ultimately better (for YOU) to get out there and make MORE art than to protect what you’ve got.

An artist on a crafts forum posted about someone finding a protected image file on her website. The person had left a cryptic message on her guest book: “Thanks”.

The artist is in a panic about possible copyright infringement. Will her design be stolen? Manufactured in China? Sold in Target stores across the U.S.??

It’s a real fear for artists today, and I don’t want to make light of it. She received plenty of good advice about dealing with copyright infringement, and what you can do about it. (Precious little, actually.)

But it also brought me back to the times I thought someone was stealing my designs. And what kind of energy that built in me.

Here is my take on it, FWIW:

I know the potential for someone lifting your images is real.

On the other hand, you’ve really worked yourself up over one word someone posted to your guest book.

I do not mean to disrespect your fears or feelings here–we ALL do this! And this incident may indeed be legitimate grounds for concern.

BUT my thoughts will be a little different than those who are giving you sound advice about copyright issues:

Try not to let anxiety and fear drive all your business decisions.

Your best defense against having a design stolen is what’s actually good for you as an artist as well: Keep moving! Keep developing more work, keep your ideas coming, keep your work fresh.

I’ve been there. I’ve found myself in situations where I felt paralyzed, fearful an action would put me in the way of being copied or my designs ripped off.

But when I look back, I realize that all the energy I thought I had to devote to protecting myself, would have better spent simply getting my work out there and making a heckuva lot more of it.

I’m NOT saying roll over and play dead. Sometimes all that’s needed is a cease-and-desist letter from you or your family lawyer to put a little fear into the heart of your copycat.

I’m saying that the energy you put into controlling this possibility could be better spent on your artwork.

In fact, if you “shut down” and try to control all access to your images, and focus on protecting yourself, you will be working against yourself.

In fact, your best defense is to get your work established, recognizable, and GOOD. True, that alone may not get you $$ from the design infringement. But it goes a long way to getting the infringement STOPPED.

We only have so much time, energy and money to spend on the things that are important to us. We read in the news about people who win big lawsuits and huge settlements. It’s easy to think that could be us.

In reality, those “windfalls” involve time, angst, lots of lawyers, and yes, more money. When people say, “Nobody gets rich but the lawyers”, believe them.

In the end, even if you COULD get rich and famous from defending a design, is that what you want?

Or do you want to get rich and famous by getting your work out into the world and seen and enjoyed and bought by as many people as possible?

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1 Comment

Filed under art, business, copycats, courage, craft, mental attitude

One response to “COPING WITH COPYCATS: Getting Past the Fear of Being Copied

  1. I agree on so many levels. There are already so many things, even enjoyable things that take time away from creativity and feed fear. Better to keeping going for uniqueness and fun,Thanks for sharing your experiences an thanks for your many tips, they are really empowering!

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