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Wednesday, 08 April 2009 15:37

Put the pitchfork down for a minute

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Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.  
-- Phaedrus

Earlier this week I followed a link on Twitter that took me to a story that made my blood boil. The link lead to a blog of a graphic artist who was being sued. The rub was that he was being sued for work that was his own by the people who stole the images from him to begin with! Can you believe the gall? I couldn't either, and apparently neither could the online community. The story reached the front page of several sites including Digg and Slashdot. The European media had picked up the story and a defense fund was started. Last I checked there was nearly $4000 collected.

Then something weird happened. In the sea of unrest a few voices started asking questions. The questions were largely ignored as the chanting for retribution and countersuits increased in number and volume. I must admit I ignored them as well, I was busy writing indignant e-mails and getting a noose ready for the lynching. A few more brave souls added their doubt and one even took the time to link some of the images in question. The images were enough to make me stop for a minute. It wasn't just a resemblance or simple misunderstanding - the images in questions were exact copies in most instances.  Not only that, but the images were also from several artis, some of whom were very established and could even provide registered copyrights.

As I was digesting this information I got an e-mail from Richard E. Askew. It was brief and to the point - it was a reply to my e-mail from none other than the founder of Stockart.com, the company that was under fire for picking on the little guy. Obviously this was a sign that I needed totake the opportunity and do some digging of my own. My initial reply was a simple thanks for replying, I'll withhold judgment until I had more info. Mr. Askew replied again with another e-mail with quite a few details of the dispute. Now I really had something to go on. I asked if I could post his reply and he was gracious enough to send the e-mail below, which it looks like he eventually sent out to everyone who e-mailed a complain.

Enough of my rambling, on with the other side of the story -

Dear Respected Design Community,

I have been fighting for artists rights for over 11 years to the point where it has devastated both my business and the livelihoods of my artist alliance . I'm guessing we only license 1 image these days to every 50 which are stolen and profited from. I personally have uncovered over 500 for- profit companies whom have stolen over 8,000 images from my artists!!!! I can not expose this story to the point which will soon be shared, but please know one thing about this irony! I have fought this matter with my own personal investments to a point of bankruptcy. I love my artists and their right to earn money from their unique, artistic, intellectual property! If anyone is interested in the entire story of my experience, please contact me personally at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I do want to personally thank you for your concern. I understand your concern! Stockart.com is proud to advocate and represent the copyrights and works of the many award-winning and talented artists who have provided their work to Stockart.com for rights managed licensing for over a decade. The works which are of concern to Stockart.com and Mr. Engle include, and are not limited to, the works of:

Patricia Dalbey
Image #PD1P0138 (Stoplight Image)
Image #PD1A0213 (Chef Hat Image)
Image #PD1A0087 (Grape Image)

Phill Bliss
Image PB#2A0244 (Sun and Moon Image)

Cindy Lindgren
Image #CL1A0083 (Feather Image)
Image #CL1X0181 (Feather Pen Image)
Image #CL1A0102 (Peapod Image)
Image #CL1X0216 (Hand Image)

Scott Greer
Image #SG1A0094 (Shoe Image)

Dave Winter
Image #DW0V0054 (Sombrero Image)

Larry Milam
Image #LM1A0041 (Rose Image)
Image #LM1A0043 (Mountain Image)
Image #LM1A0434 (Plate Image)

Mary Ross
Image #MR4P0041 (Star Image)

Rita Lascaro
Image #RL1A0061 (Rope Image)

Robert L. Prince
Image #RP0X0123 (Coffee Cup Image)

Peter Buttecali
Image #PB1A0004 (Rooster Image)
Image #PB1A0030 (Skunk Image)
Image #PB1A0034 (Lioness Image)
Image #PB1A0080 (Truck Image)
Image #PB1X0231 (Horse Image)
Image #PB1X0337 (Door Image)
Image #PB1X0346 (Building Image)
Image #PB1X0535 (Crown Image)
Image #PB1X0536 (Crown Image 2)
Image #PB1X0614 (Mountain Image)
Image #PB1X0714 (Mountain Image 2)

Michael Rowley
Image #MR1X0058 (Cow Image)
Image #MR1V0088 (King Image)
Image #MR1X0168 (Jester Image)
Image #MR1X0189 (Donkey Image)
Image #MR1V0219 (Jester Image - Color)
Image #MR10227 (Waiter Image)
Image #MR1X0257 (Cat and Dog Image)

Elizabeth Burrill
Image #EB1X0079 (Pig Image)

Paul Dolan
Image #PD0A0046 (Stork Image)
Image #PD0A0145 (Snake Image)

Stockart.com intends to use an appropriate "legal" forum to resolve Stockart.com's concerns about the above and many other works; one which will allow Stockart.com to explain why Stockart.com claims rights in the many images which these artists have provided to Stockart.com, one which affords dignity to the artists whose work Stockart.com represents; one which will treat Mr. Engle with dignity and respect; one which will give Mr. Engle an opportunity explain why he believes he has authorship or copyrights in the many images with which Stockart.com is concerned.

Sincerely,
Richard E. Askew, Principal/Founder
Stockart.com, LLC

 

So is it too late to take back a knee-jerk reaction? Maybe, but I think I will sit this one out until there is a settlement.

BNR Branding Support

Brent Friar is the owner and chief web developer for BNR Branding Solutions. His development experience dates back to 1994 when he was a founding partner of Internextion Web Development in Orange County, CA.

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