Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Copycats, Copyright Infringement and Social Media Etiquette


Earlier this week, my friend Désirée informed me that someone running an online store in Austria, was using all the images I had styled for our Spring/Summer catalogue (see my styling portfolio here).
I immediately sent this person an email (actually 3 in the end as things were worse than I thought) about copyright infringement for using all our images illegally on her site and if you find yourself in the same situation, feel free to contact me, I'll happily share with you the email I sent her.

Spending more time on this person's website and Facebook, I found that she had not only used all our images illegally but she had also blatantly copied our About Us page (see below), used creative we had put especially together for our E-newsletters on her FB page, used photos of my home with products from our collection, Mila's bedroom with these pom poms and was basically copying our collection.

The reason I spent a lot of time & money styling our collection rather than using images from suppliers is because when I put a collection together and source products from various suppliers, I have a specific look and style in mind and that style is what BODIE and FOU is about.
This person simply took all the lifestyle images I had styled and then proceeded to source all the products featured in my styling to simply copy the BODIE and FOU style & collection.

I was livid and furious and it took her the whole day to clear everything but she eventually took everything off  and apologised.
I don't want to dwell on this because it makes me feel incredibly sad that someone would do something like this. I still don't understand what she was thinking off but I would say a few things....

"If you want your business to succeed, put the hours into it. 
In business, there is no shortcut"

"Stealing people's work doesn't make you an Entrepreneur or a Creative person or a Company Director/CEO or whatever fancy job title you give yourself. It makes you a sad thief with no idea of your own"

If you are not familiar with the concept of Copyright infringement, here is the Wikipedia definition:

Copyright infringement is the use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works, without permission from the copyright holder, which is typically a publisher or other business representing or assigned by the work's creator.

And here is a very good article on how to avoid copyright infringement so if you run a online shop, planning to do it or want to write a blog, please educate yourself. Copyright infringement is a criminal offence and could be a costly mistake (read article about financial penalties here).

Also, running a small business is NOT an excuse. The same way, you found out about Insurance liability, VAT and any other important things you need to know about how to run a business, you need to learn about copyright.
Pinterest is NOT a source of credit. You need to credit either the company that commissioned the images or the Photographer & the Stylist and if you use them for commercial activities, you MUST seek authorisation from the owner of the material.

For me, this is the most obvious one. Even if you are not familiar with copyright, the key to become a successful, appreciated blogger or business owner is to be respectful of your peers.
Bloggers are a great bunch and fantastic people to network with and hang out. I have made some amazing friends over the past 8 years from all around the world and I'm hugely appreciative of all the support I have received from bloggers, customers and fans of BODIE and FOU but I also believe that what goes around comes around and if you want to run a successful business, start by treating your peers, customers, competitors with respect and then work hard, aim to be the best of yourself rather than stealing people's work.
Educate yourself, learn new skills, practice, enjoy being creative. It will be a much rewarding result than copying someone's work, I promise you.



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