Apr 27, 2009

Stopping Copyright Infringement

My Original Artwork.

They say things come in threes and that has proven true regarding recent copyright infringement regarding my artwork. Anyone who reads my blog is aware that my hawk mascot art was ripped off and sold online.

When ever I post about things like this on my blog it gets shared with other designer. Designers by nature are visual thinkers for the most part and we remember what we've seen. One person who read my blog sent me an email which has revealed another infringement using my hawk art. (If you are counting that is infringement number two)

But this new matter is far too complicated for me to handle via my own infringement letter and I have turned it over to my copyright attorney to consult on and I'll follow his lead.

Well on Saturday I was made aware of another infringement regarding my bat art. (See they come in threes)

IMVU.com virtual rip.

I was able to follow DMCA protocol and send the infringing web site my infringement letter and they have pulled down the art that one of their users were selling.

It's bad enough people rip my art in the real world, but now they are ripping it and selling it to virtual clients too? (Anyone who is familiar with IMVU.com please feel free to comment)

My infringement letter post shows how to write to a web site or individual that has infringed upon your copyrighted work online. And below is the type of standard issue reply you'll get back once a site like IMVU.com has acted upon it. It's cold, calculated and as you can see allows them to hide behind the DMCA.

Modus Operandi Response From Infringers


In compliance with the IMVU policy relating to claims of copyright or trademark infringement, which is meant to adopt and implement the procedures specified under the DMCA and US copyright law, IMVU has taken the following actions regarding your complaint:

1) The offending items have been placed on DMCA hold and we have disabled access to or removed them from the IMVU catalog.
2) Notified the person who created and/or posted the offending items.

For more information on IMVU’s DMCA/Trademark policies, or for instructions on reporting future violations, please visit our DMCA page.

Terms of Service.

Please note that this is our ordinary response upon receipt of a formal DMCA takedown notice, in compliance with the DMCA and our policy.  We express no view with regard to the merits of your claim(s) of infringement or with regard to any other matters you may have communicated to us.  We reserve all rights and defenses.

Kind Regards,
Persons Name

Persons Name
IMVU, Inc.
fax:  (650) 618-2561

In Closing

All the above transpired over a two day period. I discovered the infringement Saturday. Sent off a my infringement letter the same day. And on Monday I got the response shown above and the matter was resolved.

Now this doesn't always happen this smoothly. And if a copyright infringer insists on being a weasel you might need to get a lawyer involved. But most reasonable people will admit the transgression and align with DMCA protocol.

View Copyright Infringement Letter.


Bo Lane said...

I like how you said "transgression" ... hilarious.

Joe Bluhm said...

Nice to see you handling this head-first. I've had run-ins with artists and editors stealing my artwork, or blatantly 'tracing' it, and it's always an uphill battle.

Great work, too.

Mitch Chillin Man said...

I am glad that you got your copyright matter solved so quickly. I am an IMVU chatter and have been acquainted with the site/service for about 4 years now. IMVU does respond quickly to such matters, but they ONLY react in a response role, never in a proactive deterrent role. They take great effort to seperate themselves from the pre-submission review process, so that they can legally claim to have no real knowledge that such items are being sold in their catalog. Thats why there are endless streams of shoes bearing the NIKE swoosh (and name) and tons of clothes listed as being Gucci or DKNY fashions, as just two examples. IMVU uses unpaid volunteer reviewers to screen any products before they are allowed into the IMVU catalog, but ironically, they make the process of attempting to exclude an item due to obvious or blatant copyright infringement such a daunting task (think pages and pages of clicks on online forms, repeated questions and an almost threatening attitude to verify the certainty that an item is under copyright), that most sincere reviewers surrender and simply skip the item or start passing them on through. The only items that IMVU treats with a sincere and professional amount of dilligence to screen out are the Adult/Mature items. While such items do exist within the IMVU catalog, they are classified and seperated into a very strict 'Adults Only' category. Of course IMVU profits from the sale of those items too, but only from verified Adult chatters. While you are completely within your rights and principles to file a copyright claim and to protect your creative rights, I hope that you never feel as if anyone other than IMVU made any considerable amount of coinage from the sale of your work. In reality, IMVU charges a submission fee on each and every item that is placed for inclusion within its catalog, while the person who wrongfully and dishonestly submitted your artwork as a sale item, was probably only making in converted monetary value....(don't feel insulted now).... 22 to possibly 58 cents per sale. I personally have a mini-catalog of items I have made for IMVU (none that infringe copyrights) which numbers a total of 173 items, and although I think my items are good, the vast majority of them have zero to 3 sales.... only a handful have ever sold more than a dozen times each. Why? The IMVU catalog is so large, and continually adding new items ( approximately 900-1200 a day I believe) that it becomes a sort of luck of the draw for anyone to find my items, and be impressed enough to spend their credits. (BTW, IMVU uses "in-game" credits for its monetary transactions..... a chatter purchases credits from IMVU at an exchange rate of ...roughly 800-1000 credits per dollar. It fluctuates though). So, for the sake of your professional integrity, I am very happy that someone noticed your work and gave you the tip that you needed to protect your rights. I have 5 items in my mini-catalog with original designs from fantastic artists, and I did get permission from each of them to use their work ( I keep the email correspondence on hardcopy file too ), and I was very surprised that when 4 of the 5 found out how little I would be making from each sale.... they told me to use their work, just give them clear credit and a link back on the catalog page. So I myself have been lucky to have great relations with the artists I have worked with. I feel that respect and proper due credit is most important to the majority of small artists ( so long as nobody else makes a big profit and leaves them out of the loop), and I only wish that more of the IMVU product creators made the same effort to clear the path to use original artwork in the way that I do.