Friday, April 19, 2013

The Inevitable Art Theft Post...

There is a new monster today, but I can't post it. I can't post it because I have to make this boring post about people appropriating my work without consent. Mainly, you can thank Boris Larjusin for depriving you of monsters. 

Last week, I stumbled upon this:


 It's an ebook/print to order book of my work. Funny thing is, I didn't make it. I hunted around and found that there are similar versions of this book on multiple sites. All uploaded by the same person. A person that not only follows my work, but has bought zines from me in the past. This was Boris (aka: Boriss Larushian, Boris Larushian).

At no point did Boris contact me with this idea (I would have said no, even if asked), at no point did he contact me about using my work for anything

He basically downloaded low res versions of my work off this blog, haphazardly laid them out, and then threw them up on print to order websites for an exorbitant amount of money. Boris doesn't have too much of a web presence, so it doesn't look like too much damage was done. However, at least 2 people bought the print to order format, and their reviews complain of how poorly designed it was and how pixelated the images are. I feel bad that my work is being represented so poorly and that people that like my work enough to purchase a book of it are subjected to such low standards. I'm sorry guys.


However, even if it was laid out exquisitely, with (somehow) high res images, it still wouldn't be ok. I was never, never contacted. This work is stolen. Some schlub is trying to make an easy buck off my artwork. It's doubly annoying, because I put a lot of time and effort into selling books myself, and I painstakingly make sure they are presented a certain way. 

After I found these "books" a bunch of friends and followers flooded all the pages with negative comments and there were a bunch of tumblr posts to let people know about the theft. Then, Boris contacted me through paypal to offer me half the money he made. Here's his petulant "apology".

"Dear Michael, Sorry for inconvenience. I was waiting for more royalty to gather on my account for it to be payable. 100 USD is minimum. I am withdrawn book from Amazon due to unpleasant and rude comments I received. Have (more than) half of my earning I send 55 USD, while I lost much more on taxes."
 
At no point does he apologize that he took my work without consent, and at no point does he offer to take down the print to order books. He also, artfully neglects to mention that the book has been up for sale since October of last year! He's basically saying "sorry you caught me doing a scummy thing". He did take the ebooks down (my blog is basically a free version of the ebook!!!) but that's it. He's also done this before.

I refunded his money and told him to take down the books. 

In conclusion (for now & this part at least) the websites have been informed that there has been a copyright infringement and so far they've been helpful and responsive. Please, don't buy this product. It is not a good representation of my work and it is stolen. In the future, if you don't read about it on this blog or on my tumblr it is NOT a yog-blogsoth product. Sad new catchphrase. 

The sadder thing is, that this is not the first time this has happened. 

About a year ago, an awesome follower with a keen eye noticed this book Chaosium had announced.

 
 This follower pointed out that the Shan in this illustration by Marco Morte looked disturbingly familiar.


 I included the above comparison image in an email I sent to Chaosium and I have to say, they were extremely cool about the whole thing. They stated they were under the assumption that the artwork was 100% original and now that it had been called to their attention they would find a new cover. Which they did. I'm extremely grateful that they responded so positively and swiftly. This is obviously the work of a lazy artist. 

There is one other dumb incident of a dork selling prints of my work on etsy. It was a low res download of my Cthulhu drawing, which was pretty bad but her attitude was the worst part. Her description of the prints (ALL of which were someone else's intellectual property) said (I have to paraphrase because all prints have been removed along with descriptions) "any artist would be honored to have their work reproduced and exposed to more people blah, blah, blah."

I contacted her and told her I was not honored and I didn't want her to sell those unauthorized prints and she responded with this:

"It's down. Im sure you know that Cthuluthu is an IP of someone else. You are selling prints that are of a stolen IP so I wouldn't be on such a high horse if I were you. Spread the word....almost EVERYTHING on Deviant Art is renditions of art from other peoples IP'S and that is against the law. I won't hesitate to contact the owners if I keep getting rude emails."

 So, apparently, I'm rude for requesting that she stop selling prints of work she didn't make, and also "Cthuluthu" is the intellectual property of "someone else". 
1) That someone else is HPL, 
2) That work is in public domain.
Also, I don't even have a Deviant Art page, that's not what we're talking about, and a large part of the work on Deviant Art is original.

This is the "high quality" print I'm supposed to be honored by.

They've since been taken down, but remember.....if it's not on this blog it's not a Yog-Blogsoth product....bing!

I also want to take a minute to mention that it is ok to share my work. I don't want these debacles to discourage people from reposting my work (with credit) on the internet, or tumbling stuff (with credit). I love my followers and want you to keep enjoying the work. Here are two examples people I was excited to let use my work.

Dear Michael,
                     I am interested in using your penguin art from this blog,    http://yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com/2012/01/mutant-penguin.html
The reason I ask is that I am a seventh grader from MA doing a book report on "At the Mountains of Madness". Part of my assignment is to create a CD cover for a soundtrack of the book.  I'd like to incorporate your penguin drawing into that artwork.  But I don't want to infringe on your copyright.  May I have your premission for this use? Thank you for considering, please reply with your answer.

-- Sincerly,

Joseph 
St. Peter School 7th Grade
Cambridge, MA


 I love that so much. Not only was Joseph respectful but he knew to ask permission and he's only in 7th grade!

This second example is a father and son team that contacted me and asked if they could use my work for their own personal customized Hive game:

 I found your blog via Google, and love the art work. I'm a big fan of Lovecraft's universe.
Long story short, I was in the process of making a card game for my oldest son for Christmas (he's a Lovecraft fan also) when I came across your art. Would you object to letting me use a few of your images for this homemade endeavor?
I have no plans to sell the game, or steal your credit, just something fun for around the house.
I can even send you a copy if you'd like.
Let me know.

Cory

I said yes, and then Cory sent me pics and linked to my site whenever he posted about it on gaming boards. 


It seems like common sense to explain this but if you contact me before you use my work and you want to use it for a one-off personal project, I'll most likely say yes. There are key words there. BEFORE, ONE-OFF and PERSONAL. No one involved here was trying to make money. They just liked my work and wanted to use it to illustrate something for their own personal use.

This isn't to say I'll agree to everything but I won't be mad if you ask. 


Anyway, sorry for the long boring rant. I just wanted folks to know that if you're looking to purchase my art, contact me and we'll work something out. Bootleggers beware....Sakevi is waiting for you...

UPDATE: I received this email from Amazon Wednesday (still waiting to hear more from B&N):
Thank you for your message. Please be advised that we are in the process of removing the following item from Amazon.com:

Lovecraftian Monster Book ISBN-10: 147921857X
PS-Special thanks to all my internet and irl friends that reposted the tumblr, made negative comments on all the pages and have just been keeping an eye out in general. EXTRA special thanks to Roxy and Jeanne who were more mad than I was.
 
 
 
 

18 comments:

  1. Incredible. What's most incredible is the attitude of people who are openly stealing your work. "Here's half my earnings?" Seriously? How about "Here's all of my earnings, plus money as apology for what I did."

    "Any artist would be happy to have someone else steal their work and make money from it!"

    Seriously. The nerve of people.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sadly the world is full of A$$-Holes trying to make a profit of the creative works of others...As I said if I were to use an image or two with one of my Old Ones posts at the "Crypt"... I will ask you good Sir ... and always give you credit as well as post a "Shout Out" about your Blog and your wonderful art... Some people are Rude ans Have NO respect of others... Their favorite co;or is "green" and their "God" is the almighty dollar...!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing this story, both the negative and positive experiences you've had. This is an important issue and your take on it was excellent to read.

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  4. I did Not realize that you did this Wilbur Whatley Image (with the cultists)... I will have to find how far back I posted it ...Sorry good Sir... I found it somewhere on an "occult" web-site... I will find my "Wilbur" post and give you the Full Credit that you are due...

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  5. I had actually used 7 of your great images... I just went through All of the "Lovecraft" post at our "Crypt" ... and properly credited them all ... you try and describe to this younger generation an "Flying Polyp" or one of the Great Race of Yith"... Thank you for the use of these images and we will ask Beforehand from now on Good and keep up your great posts of your wonderful Art Works... we have been a fan of Lovecraft ant the "Mythos" since we were an early Teen...!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. If we ever use someone else's pictures on one of our blogs, we always include a link back to the creator's site, if we know who the creator is. Otherwise, we state that the work isn't ours. One of our members has fun with photoshop, but she always states that the image is a photoshop, and she never tries to sell them for profit.
    The fellow who made that book sounds like he's, shall we say, not quite with the program, if he thinks to get away with such a thing.
    I'm sharing a link to this post on our group's Facebook page, Undead in the Netherworld. Which is pretty much read by nobody, but the few who read it would probably be interested in this, as we are all struggling independent writers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ugh. I am sorry to hear about the thefts. It's a shame when people don't go out of the way to credit the artist or ask permission to use their work especially when they obviously enjoy it so much.

    Thanks for posting. I really enjoy your work.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What the... That @#!*&^%$()+=-_?<>`~. How dare he, that wombat, that vile nut, that child killing, pet stealing, money humping son of a quack!! I hope he goes to San Quentin, then to Guantanamo Bay and gets roach-squashed like the slimeball slug he is. But I wished that paperback book was your doing. I denounce eBook as fascist and as such, I will NEVER, ever use it. In other words, that jerk should be ashamed of himself. I yearn for a hardback or paperback of these titles (screw eBook): Snaiad, Encyclopedia of Furahan Wildlife, and Nereus: Wheel of Life. Anyone who wants to sign a petition to Scholastic, National Geograhpic, Time, Life, Smithsonian, Peoples' magazine, and Dorling-Kindersley to introduce indie books say "I". I hope you recover, O lord of Yog.

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  9. You such great art of some of the things that we love Most... we would never "disrespect you good Sir you do such wonderful contributions to the Many fans of H. P. Lovecraft... and I love your "creative imagination"...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey guys!! Thanks for all the comments of support! I really appreciate it.

    Theda-You definitely don't have to contact me before you repost one of my images on a website so long as you credit/link me. I don't want to discourage people from reblogging/reposting/retumbling. If you're going to do that AND credit/link to me, then you don't have to contact me ahead of time. I appreciate you're sentiment though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not to be pushy, but do you plan to create a book (as in an actual one), or a video game starring your gruesome (in a good way) menagerie or characters? Plus, do you agree with my yet-to-exist petition?

      Delete
  11. I'd love to publish a collected Volume of my work, but the problem is the cost of a full color art book. Maybe in the future. The problem with a petition is that I have a very specific way I want my work to be presented, and if a publisher was interested in my work, they may not be interested in a hardcover, fauxleather, silver embossed volume of naked monsters, hahah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, censorship, censorship. Well, at least the most likely or unlikely thing that can happen is if all of a sudden, your unconsciousness decided to produce a crossover comic with either My Little Pony, or Erin Hunter's Warriors. Be pretty awesome though, just saying.

      Delete
    2. Lamentations of the Flame Princess might, considering Carcosa.
      I mean it wouldn't be game-y but still: naked monsters.

      I'm blown away by the contrast a 7th grader provides, people can be baffling.

      By the by and off-topic, your KNYGATHIN ZHAUM is marvellous, testicle knees and all.

      Delete
    3. Why not do a Kickstarter, or other crowd funded project?

      Delete
  12. That's just awful. I published several modules through dragonsfoot.org and, several years ago, I found that someone had printed them off and was selling them on eBay. I posted on DF completely flabbergasted and I received the same kind of, "you should be flattered" response.

    There's definitely this bizarre, childish worldview that everything on the Internet is fair game.

    ReplyDelete
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