It Happens Every Year and Every Year It Breaks My Heart

Around holidays like Christmas and St. Valentine’s Day people often contact me asking if they can use a poem, part of a post or a quote to reproduce on a greeting card for a loved one. I love those requests as much as I adore the ones that ask to print a particular quote and keep it on their fridge to use as a mantra. I feel honored that my words can bring peace or a giggle to someone else.

But those are not the kind of wishes that have left me upset, or that in the past, have made me reconsider what I share on this blog. This year, I received six requests from people who wanted to add some of my words to a plaque or a t-shirt. My response was a version of this on all requests: I have artist friends who I trust to use my work only one time to create what the individuals asked for. If they hire my friends’ services, I would not charge for the use of my words. However, if the person making the request wanted to use their own artist, then the artist in question would have to pay a fee. And this permission had to be requested and given on writing.

Not one of the requesters got back to me. I followed up, and three of them decided that they didn’t really want to use my words after all. Two weeks ago, an artist contacted me to “verify” that the individual who wanted “one of [my] poems engraved on glass had obtain the proper permissions.” It seems that when the artists requested some kind of licensing agreement, the individual said, “Magaly and I are friends, she won’t mind.” The individual in question asked for 12 plaques.

I’ve exchanged several emails with the person who made the request. After we discussed cost, she, too, decided that perhaps she didn’t really want to use my words on the plaque she wanted to commission to sell on her shop. By the way, before these emails, I had never heard of this person.

That unconformable fire was extinguished, and although its remains still stink the worse is behind me. What broke my heart was this: one of the people, who said that they no longer wanted to use my words, went ahead and used them anyway without telling me. The artist who did the work was told that permissions had been granted.

It was just one mug, so the artist didn’t think anything of it. She contacted me this morning to see if I would want to work with her in the future. When I asked if she found me via Pagan Culture, the mess of the mug came up. She was mortified, but I don’t hold her responsible. Yes, she should have asked for written permission, but when you have a good heart you don’t expect people to steal words that will be used to spread hope and cheer.

Anyway, I’ve updated my copyright information. I don’t think this would deter any true thief, but it offers guidance for honest people who like my work and want to share it. Stealing a person’s creation is more terrible than just swiping a few dollars. We put our souls into our work. We share our mind-children hoping you’ll help us protect them. My heart is a bit broken… because of the thievery… because I suspect that it will probably happen again And that is extremely sad.

 Frogs always lift my spirit. This mildly-crestfallen beauty is the work of Vanessa Valencia. You can find this and more of her whimsical creations over at A Fanciful Twist.

46 comments:

  1. I've never understood the mindset that allows someone to convince themselves that taking another person's writing, drawing, or art is allowed. Part of me thinks, and quite unhappily, that they don't think it's stealing on some level; that intellectual works are fair game in a way taking things off a store shelf isn't. I share your concerns, obviously, but I suppose it's a risk worth taking. Otherwise we'd have no way to share stories or make some kind of profit on what we do. This is another fine, gooey, bloggy bit of goodness, Magaly. Always something readable to be found here. Thanks!

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    1. The risk is worth taking indeed, since the bad doesn't surpass the good. It's still so infuriating though... But we'll make the best of it, right? And this involves keeping an eye on our work as well as the creations of our friends.

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  2. I have read this far to many times! Keep your work off the internet! Copyright laws are for the wealthy and the argue ment for what is original work? in 2015 could litigate you into the poor house.
    The Internet is fertile ground for those who can and will steal, reproduce and sell others creations.
    So when Your book of quotes, poems and wonderful tales is available, pls alert those who know, admire and love you! And they will tell 2 people, and they will tell 2 people ........
    xoDebi

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    1. I agree. For us little people, copyright is almost a hope for deterrence. We don't have the money to go after those who take without thinking (and worse, without caring). So many times, I've told myself that I will stop sharing so much... but then I go back and do it anyway. I'm not silly beyond reason, I keep some things back. But there is always something to steal, if someone has few scruples and less heart. Let's hope for better... and keep an eye out.

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  3. This is popping up all of the time now, for artists, too! I had a person tell me to even watermark my photos as people have been known to take them to post as their work and try to copy the object after they have sold it. Education is the key to some of this. I do believe that some people are just clueless. Some think you should be honored to have your words on their chest or mugs, or see a copy of your artwork. Then, there are the people like the lady that wanted to sell the plaques in her shop. She knew better. She was just looking for something unique to put her shop out front, but did not want to pay for that wonderful uniqueness. I have been in retail for nearly 20 years and,unfortunately, I have seen this before. It is heart hurtful to think that you cannot trust your fans. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I would hate to see you stop sharing your words, as some days they change my whole outlook. But, you have to do what you have to do. Debi is right, copyright is for people than can hire lawyers (unless you have a legion of loyal wicked luvs that are willing to put their potions, curses, axes, and such to good use against said villains).
    P.S, You do have that legion of loyal wicked luvs...just saying'.

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    1. You know, I've never found any of the stolen material on my own. It's always a Wicked Darling (or a decent online user) who finds the crime and culprit. I wish more people had honor, but you know how that goes. I won't stop sharing my writing. I don't think. I just have to continue working on finding the best way of sharing without giving to much reason for stealing... I know, that's a bit of a lost battle, lol!

      Then again, I "do have that legion of loyal wicked luvs..." ♥

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  4. I really hate that this has happened/is happening to you. There must be something you can do about these thieves! I have mentioned this to people in the past, but I thought it might interest you too...

    One of my favourite artists has a 'Wall of Shame' page on her website, you can find it right HERE among her other links x

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    1. Love the Wall of Shame!

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    2. Wall of Shame rocks!

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    3. I just spent considerable time looking a Wall of Shame. My goodness! People have no consideration. And to sell them so widely. Too bad that the artist can't sue at least a couple of them, especially the ones on Etsy and the ones selling the t-shirts. Making money out of someone else's art without sharing the wealth is despicable. We put so much soul, time and heart into this... just to have someone snatch it. The bastards.

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    4. And what Stacy and Sharon said.

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  5. I am so, so, sorry Magaly! I think this is so horrible! I really feel, these people don't care! Either they want something for free, or they just take it anyways! We all have to band together and support one another! I think it's the only way! Big Hugs ;o)

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    1. I started angry, but after a while I just feel really sad. It hurts more when the things are taken by someone you know... They should know better. They should feel more. But people will be people. And sometimes, that means something very ugly. But I'm happy to say that must of the times, people can be really decent. That will have to do, right? Big hugs right back at you, my friend.

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  6. This is awful, Magaly! I was sighing so much whilst reading this that my kitty, who is sitting on my lap, has been craning her neck in concern to see my face. We can brace ourselves for the big stuff, the horrors in this world, but I think it's the *small* insidious stuff, like casual racism, or some of the nasty negativity of the internet, or this kind of thoughtless theft... the stuff that people feel can be justified... that eats away at humanity and diminishes us.

    Just recently, a friend let me know that one of my quote frames was being sold as a badge on Etsy. When I contacted the seller, she took down the listing and actually said, "I understand why you're upset. I'd be.", which left me pretty gobsmacked! For a start, I don't sell the quote frames myself, in any form, because the words don't belong to me, they're just a credited homage to the authors of those words. Selling merchandise with other people's quotes is a very murky area, legally and morally, but on Etsy alone, there are thousands of listings. People nicking my actual frame artwork, which is original and made from scratch by me, is a whole other issue that drives me mad, but there seems to be a very prevalent mindset out there that if something is on the internet, it's then free for the taking. *huge sigh*

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    1. You've put it best. This kind of annoyance gets under one's skin and leaves the entire body feeling a bit dirty and livid. How can people just sell someone else's work, without putting any real work into themselves (or paying for it!) and think it's okay? In what mind does that make sense? Denial and self-deception can only go so far... I'm thinking that after a while they just start telling themselves that it doesn't really matter.

      The internet makes it so easy... to share, to take, to violate trust. It's quite sad.

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    2. I am so sorry for Emma!!!

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  7. This is so terrible. People don't want to work (or pay) for anything it seems. It's wonderful that people find your words beautiful (because they are) but it is a kick in the shins when they take those words and use them for their own gain. Boo!

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    1. And it hurts even more when all they had to do was ask. I won't give my work away so that someone else will sale it, but I've never said no to someone who wants to use something I've written for a good cause. For something I believe in... like telling someone else "I love you" or "You are worth it" or the good old "We can do this." If people would only take the time... just a bit of time.

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  8. I do sometimes worry about putting my stuff up online, but I hate not sharing it! I have never seen anyone take my quotes, maybe my dark stories are not inspiring enough? I am surprised they even asked if they were just going to take it anyway! I bet they have some bad karma coming their way, warts and boils, I wouldn't be surprised!

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    1. I'm wondering if they had already used it. And asking was an afterthought...

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    2. By the way, I've shared quotes from at least two of your stories. Which I found very darkly inspired... I'm sure I tagged you.

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  9. Don't let the Arseholes get you down Magaly ;) these people believe making a few dollars at whatever coat alleviates the guilt, like life is a mathematical equation, I make this much $$$ if I do this, therefore my morals are worth $ plus Lack of integrity at $ and a little theft at $ = $$$ so all's fine (unless you add 'having a conscience' and 'respect of others rights'), they are dumb-arses, nasty, and guess what(???) probs they ALWAYS will be... They won't ever know how wrong this is, even if you explained it... The artist believed a liar and was upset, the person that lied to her to get what they wanted is a shocker, don't let it change you Ms Wicked, those who admire your work are livid and disgusted by these nasty parasites too.

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    1. I'm not mad anymore. I think that the initial shock is always difficult to avoid. You are right, these parasites don't deserve the attention or time.

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  10. Magaly, I have had people outright steal my horse art, photoshop my name out and put theirs in. That is one reason I no longer post my horse art (the commissions) on fb as that is where 3 of the thefts happened. On my blog I use low resolution. I've been to court twice and it's left me poorer in my pocketbook and a very sour taste in my mouth.

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    1. I was just sharing your comment with my Piano Man and saying that as bad as writers have it, when it comes to people stealing things online, it's even worse for painters. I'm so sorry that you had to go to court and fight for your right to claim your own art. There should be a way to make the thief pay for ALL the court cost (wishful thinking, I know. But damn!).

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  11. Petty-minded souls, those that think Once thought births sound/image/touch the thought belongs to them alone.

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  12. Unfortunately people seem to think if you put something on the internet it's blanket permission to use because 'it's on the internet' or my absolute favourite 'everyone else is doing it'. And seriously, there are people who think they shouldn't be held accountable because other people are doing it too; it never crosses anyone's mind that what they're doing is wrong - it boggles. Ugh, people sometimes - honestly.

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    1. "...there are people who think they shouldn't be held accountable because other people are doing it too." This is one of the things that pisses me off the most. I have no idea how they make sense of this.

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  13. *HUGS*
    I'm so sorry this person did this. I'd like to think that had they known the hurt they caused, they wouldn't have done it... but I'm pretty sure that I'd be thinking too optimistically. Ugh.
    XOXO

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    1. I want to think the same thing. I think deep inside we all want to think that most people aren't as horrible as they seem... Then a few of them do something to prove us extremely wrong... But thank goodness, there are always others who prove us right. Let's keep our hearts on the latter, right?

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  14. This is the risk we take when we display our intellectual property online. It is very disappointing that people took the time to contact you, but ignored your refusal anyway.

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    1. I was just thinking that maybe they had already used my work before they asked...

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  15. And while this was happening ...there's me making jokes about "Tis the season...so plagiarise and be damned"....I hope I didn't upset you? I was only referring to the number of times we mis- quote festive classics and not encouraging "theft". Hope the person claiming to be your friend is totally ashamed!!!! XXX

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    1. If I said that you made me upset, can I get you to write another killer daisy story to make me feel better? I mean, you didn't upset me. I know what you meant, and thought it was hysterical. But I could always pretend to be upset. ;-D

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    2. Well Spring isn't that far away...and I can imagine such Daisies would be well peed off with all this snow :D

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  16. The pettiness of some people. I always wonder what in the heck runs through the minds of people like this. Are they this nasty to everyone or because someone is a stranger or just a name floating in space it makes it feel that they aren't actually stealing from someone? Your work is the awesome sauce and your Constant Readers appreciate the heart you put into them.

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    1. And for that reason, I shall always share. ♥

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  17. It's the downside of the Internet. So much of it seems to be free, it seems a small step to think of all of it as free. I guess what leaves me aghast is that there is masses of out-of--copyright/royalty-free stuff to use on the Wonderweb, really good stuff that's as free as the air. Maybe they should put some work in and harvest that, before stealing from living artists.

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    1. Even better, they should try to create something out of their own minds. It would probably leave them feeling better about themselves. Then again, who knows... *sigh*

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  18. Do you want me to bit up someone for you? Just give me names and addresses and i will show them what happens when you steal from Magaly. Or perhaps you would like me to put a hex on somebody, boils and warts are always a fun revenge and that way i won't ruin my nails.
    I hope you are feeling better and stronger and your belly, eyes, shoulders have decided it is time to heal and give the rest of you a break. Lots and lots of love to you and yours. Mwah!!!

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    1. Now that you mention it, I do have a list... Just kidding. Maybe.

      My tummy has been behaving, if I pay attention to it. My eyes are still getting treatment, but they don't hurt, which is a blessing. My shoulder and hip pain go through a back and forth dance, lately the dancing has been tolerable. I'm hoping for more of that!

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  19. I am right there with you Magaly. I am starting to watermark my pictures after finding pictures (of me, not even my art!) all over the net with no credit to me. It is upsetting when you work so hard on your art and creative work and people snipe it without giving you any credit :/

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    1. They stolen pictures of you! What is wrong with people? I hope they haven't said is them. That would be just a bit too creepy.

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