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.