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What you can do if a big company stole your art

Journal Entry: Wed Apr 10, 2013, 9:52 AM
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:star: An indy artist's work being used by Disney without permission:…

My tumblr reply:…

PS:  this one is on the verge being settled, Disney already started working on it, she's being helped. 

Seeing posts like this, I just thought I should share some knowledge I have, I personally already have met 3 different artists who doesn't know what to do when:

Record company ripped them off

Publisher ripped them off

Big corporation used their artwork without permission (that's usually by accident because of an outsource company broke the rule etc) 

USA people: Go to lawyer volunteer groups for artists first if you need a helping hand- 

Nation wide(international includes Australia, Canada):…

NYC based  lawyer volunteers:

CA based lawyer volunteers: 

When artists meet this kind of situation, don't panic, if the steal is obvious, it's usually going to settle really quickly unless there's a contract problem. 

I can see this as an out-source problem with a large company, a company like Disney being so big can't watch every worker in China, India, USA… They are the biggest outsource client to various countries. So this is probably done by one of the workers under Disney without them knowing since its work of an indy artist. A company like Disney pride itself with original content, they will likely take this down ASAP if a lawyer writes a letter for you to them and help you settle this issue. You can decide to settle this out of court or in court. 

As for rude, unruly company, like a small time record label, and publisher, you might need to really take the court threat seriously compare to the big one. Because they will not listen to the artist. Companies that have more reputation at stake will resolve it quicker. 

I know some lawyers, (especially in USA where lawyers are everywhere) will not collect charges unless you win the case then they split from the settlement. If you can find entertainment lawyers and volunteers to talk to, I'm sure they can point you to the right direction. 

FYI: JUST be careful about going online FIRST with the news, I know a lot of artists DO this! Because if you screw up and hurt a company's reputation with vague/unclear accounts (because you are likely to be more emotional about it, you didn't put the case together solid), they CAN sue you for it! SO Go contact a copyright lawyer FIRST before you post on social network sites unless you REALLY don't know what to do. 

Especially if the artwork isn't an OBVIOUS steal but more of a conceptual steal, (like stolen composition, character face design, looks similar but not completely the same) that CAN REALLY get you in trouble if you pick a fight online FIRST before getting your case straight. Basically, try the safe approach before you try the risky one. Posting online is easy, but it's actually a risky move for you and the company. 

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Sunlight-Reverie Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2016
I've actually heard someone say something about having her art stolen by Hot Topic once.
0kidd0 Featured By Owner May 22, 2015
Thank you for posting this information, definitely saving this for later! Hopefully I won't ever be in this situation, but at least having some info to look back on will be good. 
FatherOfMusho Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
What about a story?  I'm worried about TalonFyre's story getting stolen and put through the Electronic Copyright Office in another person's name.  I even got so paranoid as to set every part of it to 18+ due to some jerk on FB threatening to steal it.
mayshing Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Text is tougher. You will nee to literally copyright it first before you release anything online if you want to prevent it being stolen. If you want exposure to anything, being stolen is a risk you must take. I suggest you just spend 35 dollars and copyright it first under your name as work in progress, before you release it if you are paranoid about a stealing threat.

But I know most people who do these kind of threats in the open are really just yelling, real thieves don't... say a thing. 
In fact you can even report the guy to FB for harassment if you want. ^^b
Laiden-Cerise Featured By Owner May 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is very helpful, I have a friend that had almost encountered the same problem! Will share this!!
Thank you!
mayshing Featured By Owner May 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
ur welcome. :D
Lulabys-Melody Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013  Student General Artist
I suppose a company like disney you could get in touch with them and try to work something out. They may ont reacall the product or anything but I could picture them offerign some form of compensation. If they ignore the case or are rude about it or simply refuse to do anything, Id contact a lawyer to see how far I can go to defend my rights.

Finally if all else fails Id make the case as well-known as possible. Its perfectly understandable that the company has its flaws due to its massive size and as you mentioned extencive international staffing and outsourcing. Shit happens sometimes.

Its just important that neither side is unreasonable. Was it a flaw on disneys side that her art was used? Yes. Should she sue the company for multi-million deals or try to shut them down or attempt to make all hell rain down on them? No. The first approach to any issue of this form should be conversational and quiet. Making a fuss benefits no-one when a problem is brought up.
iamSketchH Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013
If you used a Disney character, they'll claim its theirs and you had no right
to use it in the first place as all characters created in Disney's likeness
belong to them by default.

Also, you can't copyright ideas. So, you can't sue for stealing your idea as that
would void every vampire and princess movie and book to date. BUT, that one
illustration is definitely yours. The lines are even the same.

However, you can hire a lawyer and get legal advise. Your defense will likely
be that Alice from Alice in Wonderland's image is generic, based off the original
illustrations and NOT the Disney one. In fact, the Alice you drew has curly hair
like the original illustration, so that will actually help you. See here: [link]

The bad news is that Disney is HUGE, and by that I mean that they have a
monopoly on a lot of the nation. They own everything from sports channels
to NBC News, from the obvious Disney stuff to country song artists that seem
in no way tied to Disney. So, they have a lot of money with which to keep you
in court until you run out.

DEFINITELY SPEAK TO A LAWYER. They will be better informed--and winning a
case against Disney would be a huge ego boost for them (as well as a large
pay raise). So they'll likely be VERY interested in taking on your case.

Note: I use to work for Disney. If you did, too, then you'd better make sure that
the artwork was drawn before or after your contract with Disney. Disney's contracts
state that ANY drawings, artwork, ideas, creative works, etc that are made while employed
with them are their property. (That's how they obtained "The Nightmare Before Christmas".)
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Yeah, i hope every artist knows idea can't be stolen.

But I have known artists who would freak out if it looks "similar" like an altered version of their work. Usually I don't bother with altered version unless its a literal trace/just change colors somewhere etc.
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Thanks for the additional info. :) I'm sure it will help ppl.
I'm just a reblogger. :nod: She already had a lot of advises given to her, I am sure she will be fine.
TurboThunderbolt Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013
God damn it Disney. Check your sources before using artist's work.
Phenoca Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
Cool read!
Zue Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
:iconbertstareplz: .....err yeah I used to work in a company that accept outsource work from Disney too.. and it's true usually some of the newbie designers/interns don't undertand that it is NOT OK to simply take anything from the internet to use in work :iconimseriousplz: I have to lecture them thousands of times about it but sadly they don't take it seriousl enough... Their fav quote "but it's just a picture I'm not taking money, big deal" ugggghhhh *FLIPS THE WORLD* I don't think this ever happened in the company while I was working there (we had a quite strict boss) but now..? I'm not so sure ^^; Quit there already some years ago lol NO MORE TRAINING INTERNS YAY
hythrain Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013   Writer
Those people are stupid. I hope things like this come back to bite those designers in the ass.
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Professional Filmographer
pat pat*
mikewinn Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
glad to know this was getting resolved. It probably was a situation with the liscensee. I saw alot of 'OMG Hate Disney!' over this and it was likely not their fault at all. This sort of thing happens alot, be you protected or no, so it pays to know what to do when it does.

Thanks for your patience ARMSmasters by the way! We'll be sharing a major update in a matter of days. :)
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Professional Filmographer
yeah that would be considered a factory defect. I hope they have a systematic training that teaches people to respect copyright, but unless they enforce it harshly, I doubt third-world, or second world countries who have no sense for copyright respect would pick it up.
animegirl007 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
Thanks for the info :nod:
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Filmographer
my pleasure.
jocarra Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Y'know, what I appreciate most about this is that you've advised artists to NOT throw an enormous fit and blog loudly about it to the rest of the world. So many amateur or young artists' first instinct when they come across anything remotely related to art theft is to, well, throw an enormous fit :b I've seen artists tell their fans/watchers to destroy the thief's life and reputation, resort to name-calling and plenty of public slander - what people don't remember is that everyone, even online, can and should be held accountable for what they say. So thanks for that.
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Filmographer
I believe they only do so because they don't know the information a pro will know. I can sympathize with that, but it's really not the best thing to do to apply internet justice right way, it should be the last resort when the law doesn't serve the situation.
KaraTails Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Oh this is interesting to know.
And I am glad that the case is getting settled so quickly and well.
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Professional Filmographer
with overnight 30k reblogs, it sure will resolve fast. She has a pretty solid case so it's easy to settle.
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Submitted on
April 10, 2013


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