Terri Conrad brought this article to my attention on Facebook and I thought I’d share it here as well… the more people understand copyright and IP law AND the impact it has, the better things could be… hopefully.

This is the part of the article by Gifts & Decorative Accessories that stuck out the most to me:

“Revenue from knockoff goods is expected to exceed $1.7 trillion globally by 2015 (which represents two percent of the world’s total economic output), according to the International Chamber of Commerce.”

Click here to read the full article.

What can we do as individuals?

I will openly admit I don’t feel like I, as one person, has a lot of influence on politics and policy or big issues like this.  That doesn’t mean I never get out and vote or do what I can with the time and knowledge that I have.

So what can artists do to help curb this sort of thing?  Here are a few ideas I have – would love it if you added yours to the comments.

1.  Talk to people – anyone who will listen!

Once I was at my dentist’s and he was telling me how his 14 year old had to start a business as part of his Eagle Scout project.  His plan was to find images he liked online, print them on t-shirts and sell them.  Thankfully the dentist knew this wasn’t a good plan and took the time to talk about copyrights and creativity with his son.  We need to have these conversations on a regular basis.  With anyone who will listen.  Most people don’t get it.

2.  Talk about “sharing music” with your kids.

My son swears he is the only person he knows, his age, that buys music.  I have insisted on this since he was young – explaining that if I want to earn a living with my creativity and expect others to respect my copyrights, I (and my family) need to respect the copyrights of others.  (Karma, doing the right thing and all…)  At 12 he said, “The musicians are making so much money it doesn’t matter.”  At 20, and an aspiring musician getting a degree in business, he is understanding the impact…

3.  Register your art.  Educate infringers.  Enforce your rights.

I will also admit that I don’t put a lot of energy into policing the internet looking for people using my work.  It brings me down and sucks the creativity out of every fiber of my being. However – it happens.  It happens on a small (or large) scale on print on demand sites like Zazzle and CafePress or on Etsy.  It happens in large retail chains.

If it happens to you, you need to take action.  What action, depends on the level of infringement.

Small scale, crafter who doesn’t know better (or maybe who does and doesn’t think they will get caught) will get a letter explaining the basics of copyrights and notice that I own and have registered the copyright and a request to immediately cease and desist.

Larger scale and attorneys should get involved.  Don’t fight the big fights alone to save a buck – you will lose.

4.  Try to keep a balanced view of things so all of this doesn’t kill your creative spirit.

That would be the ultimate win for the other team, wouldn’t it?  If we got so disheartened that we threw in the towel and stopped…

5.  Don’t buy knock-offs and support the industry.

Any woman who has been to New York City has probably been tempted to buy (or bought) a knock-off handbag from a street vendor.  Don’t.  It is supporting knock offs and all kinds of other things (drug trafficking and more) that you really don’t want to support.  RESIST.  Pay full price or go without – know that you are supporting an artist like yourself by doing so.

Share your ideas and thoughts!

Here’s to your creative (and non-infringed) success –

– Tara Reed