Copyright infringement – Gina rants

SKA-legsPhoto

I am a big fan of photographer Sarah Andrew, and there was a comment made on one of her photographs about the huge copyright notice plastered across the image. Folks said that it would be so much nicer if that wasn’t there to distract from the picture. Others chimed in – implying that photographers and artists who use those huge copyrights on their work are a bit pompous / too proud of themselves. I was immediately horrified for Sarah, as I know the real reason that’s there. To keep people from using her images without paying her and/or giving proper credit.

So I fired off a retort in her defense. I said that I make part of my living designing and selling custom business cards for the farrier industry. And that frustratingly, I could go into any Tractor Supply in the country, check out the bulletin board (usually back by the restroom) and find at least one farrier’s business card sporting one of my logos – that was not purchased from me. Grrrr. Of course, any Tractor Supply in the country was a sweeping generalization. But it was based on my experience – and nearly every farm/ag store that I’ve been in indeed does have farrier business cards with pirated logos tacked on the board.

After that – I got to thinking… “I wonder how much that really adds up to?” – and now I wish I hadn’t. I discovered that Tractor Supply has 1,766 stores in 49 statessource. HoofPrints’ minimum order of business cards is $100. (for 500 cards) so if you do that math it comes out to $176,600.00!!! OMG, how I wouldn’t love to add nearly two hundred thousand dollars to the bottom line each year. Isn’t that amazing? I knew this was a problem, but I never sat down and added it up before.

Pirated business card

Now, doing what I do, I know how easy it is to snag an image off the web, paste it into a Word document, stick a fancy background behind it and add the type of your choice. That’s exactly what someone has done in the picture here. (This card came from a Dollar General Store bulletin board, of all places…) A person can buy pre-perforated business card stock at the office store and print all the cards you want on an inexpensive home printer. Voila – nearly-free business cards! But most of the time they look exactly like the amateur job that they are. Those pre-perfed cards have a tiny ragged edge that you can spot a mile away. The marble background on the above art might have seemed like a good idea, but it forced the logo so small that the wording around the tools is nearly impossible to read.

Does the person who created this know that 6 point type is a no-no? Probably not. Did they place correct emphasis on the farrier’s name and phone number by judicious use of bold and italic fonts? No, they did not. I spent 4 years in college learning stuff like that, and then another 30+ years on the job practicing that knowledge.

BC20 EXAMPLE.jpg

Did the person who made the above card carefully craft that logo using the actual tools as reference? By balancing the arrangement and colors so that it all flowed together nicely? They did not. I did. This is my Tools of the Trade logo; I sell it embroidered on garments too, here.

Did this person spend hundreds of dollars for Adobe Photoshop – so they could include subtle shadows around the logo and type so that appropriate emphasis can be made without looking gaudy or amateurish? Obviously not.

Here’s another one. The art is from my BC4 logo, which started out as Rejoice! one of the very first Christmas cards that I began selling nearly 30 years ago. Original art painted by me. Whatever they took this from must’ve been well worn, as the scratches and scuffs were reproduced along with the now-blurry art. Most folks live their whole life without ever thinking about typography. I am not one of those folks. I spent those years in college learning about it, then more years on the job practicing what I learned. And that would be to never, ever use 8 different colors, sizes, fonts and iterations of type on a single printed piece. Black backgrounds can be dramatic, but in the hands of an amateur they more often turn out hard to read. And they took the wording, verbatim, from my business card back print idea 9, and added random capitalization that is truly cringe-worthy.

Business cards from HoofPrints include a proof (mailed, texted or emailed) and as many revisions as you need to get it perfect – for no additional charge. Included also are a copy of the latest print flyer, and a Things Not To Say To A Farrier Magnetic Business Card Calendar.

$100. can seem like a lot to spend for a box of business cards (that’s HoofPrints’ price). It’s no secret that there are places out there that are cheaper. But when you order from HoofPrints, you are also getting my experience as a designer and a farrier’s wife. I fix typos, I change / rearrange wording so it sounds better and looks professional. Those cheap places won’t fix a mis-spelling of “therapeutic”. They don’t know the names of the farrier associations and schools – so they won’t abbreviate them correctly if needed. They won’t make suggestions on how your card can best sell your unique skills/expertise. They can’t because they don’t have the experience with the farrier industry. OK. Rant over. (almost)

What I’d like for you all to do, the next time you’re in a farm/tack store check out the bulletin board and see if there are any farrier business cards that look like these, but not quite. Grab one and drop it in an envelope to:

HoofPrints Business Card Rant

13849 N 200 E

Alexandria, IN 46001

I will send you a little gift for your trouble. And don’t worry, I’m not planning an attack on the infringers to get my $161,700. I’d just like to send these folks a copy of our catalog to let them know that next time they need cards they can leave the design work to me.

bc38 EXAMPLE2
Photo by Lou Stine, card is #BC38, more info here

13 comments

  1. Thanks for helping to spread the word about this, Gina. As a professional artist I know all too well how often this happens! In my industry, unauthorized use of an artist’s image is illegal and actionable. Though its a tedious process so most don’t pursue legal action. Very cool logo, btw! -Dina

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is why you make my business cards, I am happy to pay for good service. I recently had to ask permission from 4 photographers for potential use of pics for a CA Trace flier. Of course they chose the one taken by an amateur who did it for fun. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. People with talent should be PAID for that talent the same as OTHER professional people who learned a trade or skill are paid. I’m not explaining that very well. You pay a Dr. or an attorney. You should pay a photographer or a business card designer as well. Do not steal their craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This also happens to organizations! One of the equine rescue orgs that I have donated to now puts the copyright on any pictures she puts on her blog – other “rescue” orgs. have used & mis-used her pictures of various wild horses claiming ownership – AND pro-slaughter politicians have done the same!
    I’m ashamed to admit I never thought about why – just like the people you spoke about. OF COURSE – you and others who do the actual work deserve the REAL credit! Good rant!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was listening to an intellectual property forum on our local radio station the other day. On tip for photographers and other visual artists to protect their work posted on the web was to post in very low resolution so that attempts to duplicate the work don’t look at that good — in addition to having a copyright watermark emblazoned across them. People just tend to think that if no one sees them taking an image it isn’t stealing. Or they’ve heard something about a “fair use” doctrine and think it’s only fair I get to use an image I like, after all, I’m only one person. That’s someone’s livelihood you’re using. I think in the last several decades we’ve gotten so used to inexpensive to us imported goods that we forget that less goods (including images) that we pay more for might be good for ourselves and our planet. “Less is more” to quote Mies van der Rohe. Oh look at that, I just appropriated someone else’s words/work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll definitely be checking the bulletin boards around here! I too have a background in graphic arts design, technical writing, and online design. Few folks realize there are different rules for fonts used in print and online. Now that anyone can throw together a website I cringe often at the combinations of color, fonts and images people use together. More is not better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank for the comment. Designing a website that is useful and not annoying is certainly a skill. Just because a person can make music play, and words twirl, and fancy fonts on a black background, does not mean that it is a good idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. this is exactly why I don’t put many of my paintings or photos online. And I used to love to see Sarah Andrews photos published for a horse rescue. Always stupendous.

    Liked by 1 person

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