Last summer I shared a deeply personal blog about copyright. It was Part 1 in a legal series I hope to continue sharing – Lord knows there is a lot to know and learn (sometimes the hard way) when you’re starting a business or a blog. And it doesn’t stop there…when you ARE running a business there is even more to know. You can read my first post here to get caught up before watching this video conversation. Or you can dive right in to see what Autumn and I are chatting about. Whatever the case, this is a HUGELY important topic for those of us working in the creative / online space. And I’ve found this to be critically important in my professional organizing business.
I do want to mention right out of the gate, and pretty sure I said this in Part 1, that I am NOT sharing this to be all up on my soap box, to call people out or preach. And I certainly am not sharing / writing about this to create a negative atmosphere. Instead, after battling through one copyright issue after another, I made the choice to take the high road. I will do my best to educate and mentor other creatives / organizers about copyright and the importance of not copying someone else’s work. If I can help other creatives or business owners in any way, no matter how big or small, I will ALWAYS choose that positive, helpful path…as opposed to charging up the mountainside screaming out IG usernames and cuss words at the top of my lungs.
Which hey, not going to lie…that feeling has consumed me more times than once. It’s a painful frustrating experience when someone takes your work and plays it off as their own. Those feelings run deep. And it gets personal.
Ok, anyway…back to the point.
Last year I had an incredible nearly 50-minute conversation with Autumn Witt Boyd, my business attorney and the foremost expert in the world of trademarks and copyright law. An interview with her on this topic was a dream come true and planned on sharing our time together on video as the Part 2 in my series. I had hopes to share this interview much sooner (we filmed it back in mid-November!), but life, work and the holiday season got the better of me. However….HOWEVER…last night her interview catapulted straight to the top of my to-do list because around 6pm someone pointed out that yet another IGer had posted one of my images / client spaces to their feed without tagging me.
But it was actually worse.
And probably takes the #2 spot for the worst case of copyright infringement I’ve experienced.
This linen closet I organized is the TOP blog post on my blog as well as the number 1 hit on Pinterest driving traffic this way. I can see why…my client loved these baskets from the very beginning and I was thrilled to organize her linen closet so beautifully for her.
She is a sweetheart and has been such a trooper seeing her linen closet ALL OVER THE INTERNET. On multiple occasions, she has run across images shared by other local professional organizers too. Yes, copyright infringement is happening near and far for your girl. This image has been on local Facebook posts from other organizers, in their website / linked in / pinterest / youtube headers, been used to create new websites, been added to client portfolios on other organizers sites (I know! wow!)…and much more. I can’t even begin to go on about it and honestly don’t think you’d enjoy me droning on anyway.
It’s not only this image or space too, it’s multiple spaces and images.
But for the sake of this example, this organizer (I blurred her name out – no need to fight fire with fire) took the image and shared it on her feed. She didn’t source me as the originator, which is why another IGer messaged to alert me. This is normally how these cases are brought to my attention – I am not policing IG or social media hunting down violators. 🙂 Who has that kind of free time?? When I clicked over to see the image, I was planning to respond / act as I normally would = send a polite message asking that I am tagged as the source on the image AND that my IG username is within the first 10 words of the caption. When you call out the person responsible for the image from the very beginning, it makes it clear to your audience this is not your space and you simply found it somewhere else / it inspired you.
Not only had she not tagged me on the photo or in the caption, she had nearly 500 comments in which people were asking for the basket source or telling her how pretty they thought the space was…they were asking for advice on how to fold sheets this way…they were asking for organizing advice…there were conversations happening in the comment section. AND SHE WAS RESPONDING TO THEM AS IF THIS WAS HER CLIENTS SPACE. She was answering product questions, sourcing to Target, saying thank you to everyone who complimented. On and on.
It was so unbelievably wrong on all levels.
In a case like this (which has happened countless times) I instead asked her to remove the image from her feed. When you cross that line, it’s sorta hard to come back. You’ve burned a bridge and my trust in you is lost. I’m sorry to say but for anyone to respond as if it was their client’s space? And to not have asked for permission from me (the organizer and photographer of this space) OR the permission of my client?
That is all sorts of wrong AND IS KNOWN AS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
She has since removed the image and IG was alerted as well, so I feel better today knowing the issue is resolved. But it still stings. As you guys know, I have worked my ass off on this business. Have put in thousands upon thousands of hours in hard, sweat-inducing, mentally-draining, passionate work. Work that I wasn’t paid for when I first started. Heads down writing and sharing and improving my own skills by self-educating and taking the initiative to get better with each and every project or blog post or photo or company partnership. I can’t simply have a thick skin all the time and magically not have experiences like this take the wind out of my sails. It hurts.
Eventually I shake it off and get back to the old me who is excited and willing to share online. But it takes a while.
I have a file folder on my desktop full of examples like this one above. And in Part 3 I’m sharing some of those. The reason I’m sharing is simply for having case examples – some people copy my entire caption and paste it as their own, some people edit my images before posting to their feed…I want to give you hard case examples of why these are copyright infringement and why you should NOT do these things…or what you can be looking out for as well in the event someone is taking your work.
Before sharing the video below, I wanted to mention that Autumn has an incredible podcast full of FREE legal advice around this topic and other important business topics…and her site is full of invaluable info like this one-pager about Copyright 101. Definitely check out her podcast!
Finally, sorry that my audio / video quality wasn’t so great in this one. Remember when I told you the videos were making a comeback? I mentioned I have to put it out there and it will improve over time. Progress over perfection, my friends! I’m working on getting better equipment for these videos and promise the quality will begin to improve! Thanks for your patience!
Enjoy the interview and I will look forward to hearing your responses!