Monday, July 7, 2008

Copying: The Fallout Continues

In an earlier post, I referred to Ulljasbeads, who has been proven to have purchased beads on EBAY and resold them on ETSY as her own creations. There's more blog commentary about this incident, below.

Su Beeds
Designs By Kurato
Copyright Laws

Her DaWanda Shop has been closed, as well as her ETSY shop, and her blog entries have been removed.

The issue of copying is always a hot one in any creative community, but particularly so since the Internet has made it easier to see other people's work and to repost it as one's own. Where would you draw the line? For example, there are only so many styles of floral bead, and so many solid colors, and inevitably there will be lots of people doing three, four, and five petal raised flowers. I have a set on ETSY that is remarkably similar to one by Gwacie. Now, I do do some Gwacie-style beads, with her full knowledge and permission, but when I saw these side by side in a treasury, I contacted her and asked if I should pull mine because of the unintentional similarity. Her answer was no--they are a basic design, in primary summer colors, and you see variants of them all over the Web. (I say that hers, by the way, are better. She says mine are underpriced.) Unintentionally duplicating a basic bead now and then just happens, I think.

However, copying directly also happens, and that isn't excusable. Recently another lampworker noticed that her tutorial had appeared on several other sites, and had been attributed to other beadmakers. That is plagiarism, pure and simple, and is wrong whether you do it on the Web or in the classroom. Sometimes we all copy beads to try out a technique, or because we're learning a style in a class. That's fine--it's like doing five finger exercises on the piano. But to publish or to sell those beads as your own? No. Period. I might show them on the Web, as I did my tornado bead in an earlier post, with a clear note that this was my first bead made without deviation from the tutorial of beadmaker X. Then the beads go into my "gift" stash, with a note reminding me to point out that they are copies of Beadmaker X's work. Or they go into my Sekrit Private Stash that I don't share with anyone. Passing them off as YOUR design, or -- worse -- presenting a bead that you've made in a class, to someone else's specs, with someone else's copious help ... is as much plagiarism as stealing someone else's generous tutorial. When you take a class, unless you've been taught something generic, wait until you've put your own stamp on that technique to sell the results.

Are people just that lazy or afraid that they can only try what they have been shown, and no more? I remember one customer who was afraid to start beading because she had to "get it right," and was afraid to experiment, and be wrong, and start over. Do people truly care more for the presumed fame of having a tutorial in their name, or do they not care about the reputation they will get for copying and being a technique or tutorial thief? Do they really think that if it is on the Internet and they don't pay to see it that they can copy at will? Are they just that lacking in imagination, or do they truly not understand that what they are doing os theft--of words, of ideas, of time. If it hasn't got a price tag on it, do these people think it is free?

Whatever their beliefs, there will be an effect on the community-minded, generous souls who post tutorials and from whom I have learned so much. They may stop sharing their knowledge and skills freely. I hope not ....


Sue said...

I also worry that all the wonderful, creative artists who make and share tutorlas will stop. I am a seed beader and if it wasn't for tutorials, both free and bought, I would not have developed as a beader the way II have.

I have also decided not to open an etsy shop because of the way they handled buyers and sellers in the Ulja fiasco. the only people who got treated even close to faily in that deal were the etsy suits and shareholders.

Four Tails Lampwork said...

I agree. If I had not already had a shop, I would not have opened one.

And I am with you on the tutorials--the generosity of other lampworkers has been astounding, and they have allowed me to learn techniques and then apply them to my own work. Selling a plain tutorial bead, unless it is a common design? NO.

One of the things we're trying to do at the Glass Haven ( is start a glass wiki. If you post your tutorial there FIRST, then you have established your claim to it --- and the authoritative text. Maybe if we can get the ball rolling that will help provide some measure of copy protection.