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Beware of jeweller

Posting this with _graywolf_'s permission.

A while ago _graywolf_ designed a Celtic fox ring for a good friend of hers. Her friend took the design to this jeweller to have the actual ring made.

Some time after that _graywolf_ went to look at the site because she wanted some personal jewellery made and was shocked to find the jeweller was selling pendants of the fox head design from the ring. She had never given permission to either her friend or the jeweller for the design to be used for anything but that one ring.

Graywolf got some information from a lawyer and contacted the jackass jeweller.

The letter;

January 15, 2007

Subject: Copyright Infringement Issue – Celtic Fox ring design

Mr. Brecher,

A while ago one of my commissioners, Mr. Martin Miels, commissioned me for a one of a kind ring design that was to be realized by a jeweler of his choice. As solid contract I keep all rights to anything I create, unless copyright is bought from me. I gave Mr. Miels permission to get his commissioned design made, on a one time only contract, and derivative work isn’t allowed without written consent.

It has recently come to my attention that on your website and within your virtual company, you are using part of my design (the Celtic fox head) as pendant designs. If I gave you permission to use my design or part thereof for your own business, please provide me with my written proof. Absent such valid authorization, I demand that you immediately cease and desist from the use of any of my copyright protected works. Please confirm in writing or email no later than January 23, 2007 that you have ceased completely your unauthorized use of my work. If you fail to take the required actions by January 23, 2007, I reserve the right to protect my valuable artwork, including without limitation, seeking under U.S. Copyright Law, contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapter 1, Subchapters 106-122 inclusive, state law and common law, any available profits of your organization, actual and treble damages, attorney’s fees and injunctive relief precluding further use of my artwork.

If you have any questions concerning the foregoing, please feel free to contact me.


Ingrid “GrayWolf” Houwers


The reply;

Hello Ingrid,

I understand the point that you are trying to make regarding copyright law.

No, you did not give me permission to use any part of the fox head designs, but
it was implicit in my contract with Martin Miels that there was no barrier to my using
the design, the fox head pendant in particular, as an item available on my web site.

Although I personally believe that the design is really pretty, there has been absolutely
no interest or orders by any of my visitors or customers in purchasing a copy of it.

I've recently come out on the winning side of a lawsuit lasting nearly 6 years. I was
awarded a monetary judgment of $286,000 + 7% interest for about 4 years. Sadly,
I have too much experience with lawyers and most suits, copyrights or otherwise are
very much a gamble for both sides. The biggest winners are always the lawyers.

I am prepared to defend myself, my business and my actions. It is just part of my nature.

Despite all of the above I WILL be removing any and all promotional materials referencing
the fox head design within the next few days; as I mentioned none have yet been sold.
Perhaps it doesn't look sufficiently Celtic, even though it really is beautiful.

Feel free to file Copyright Infringement charges against me if it might please you. You might
win or you might lose; same for me. Legal actions are exciting and can give us much to
talk about and write about. Feeding lawyers, like feeding sharks, can be very expensive and
very dangerous...but, again, very exciting.

The lawyer who helped you write the fax was very good! I hope he told you the downside
possibilities also.

Years ago I spoke with my attorneys regarding protecting my own designs with Copyrights.
The essence of his answers made it clear that for jewelry designs it was virtually impossible
to prevent "knock offs", duplications, of jewelry designs. I can effectively copyright a web site,
but not my own jewelry designs. I seriously doubt that your attorney would encourage you
to pursue such an action against ANYONE, including me, not if he is at all ethical.

Lastly, Ingrid, it was not at all necessary to send me such a threatening fax letter. I would have
been very cooperative if you had just asked for a commission or that I remove the pendant
from my site. I will do what I consider right, as I already stated above, but we would have both
felt better had you presumed me innocent and been "friendly" about it all.

I will do as I promised. You should do whatever you believe is right and smart. Regarding your
attorney; you may wish to get a 2nd opinion.

Got to go. We've got a very heavy ice storm here in Oklahoma and haven't been out of
the house since mid-day Friday...must get some shopping done now.

Sincerely, Hugh Brecher, WebMaster, CEO of My Celtic Rings, Inc

Think what you will, personally I think this guy is a filthy scumbag and I'll be discouraging everyone I know from patronizing his business.

Edit: Pardon me, I forgot to mention the site's url needs to be cut&pasted into your browser or it will forward you to the FBI site, oh irony of ironies. http://www.mycelticrings.com
Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
The link you posted is forwarding to FBI.gov. o_o
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
It's done that before. Copy/paste that url and it will go through just fine.
(no subject) - featherlady_jt - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - featherlady_jt - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
I'm finding both sides here to be a little not-so-nice. On the one hand, she couldn't contact the guy personally and ask why her design was being used, and nicely request it not be? It had to be a legal cease and desist demand first?

On the other hand, WOW is that guy condecending and sneering!
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think she benefitted by being tough right out of the box. If she had used a polite, hat-in-hand approach with this guy in particular, he might have tried to run roughshod over her and probably would not have pulled the ring in question. He hase a track record of copyright infringement and ripping off artists - so I think a little hardball was called for.
(no subject) - crssafox - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - featherlady_jt - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - featherlady_jt - Jan. 16th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kitsuken - Jan. 17th, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Jan. 16th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Jan. 16th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eski - Jan. 17th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crssafox - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tailypo - Jan. 16th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Jan. 16th, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC)
As I said elsewhere, I was considering having this guy make me some rings but certainly not anymore!
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)

These guys did the rings for Sarah and myself. We were really impressed with their service, and their work is fantastic.
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
I think it's fishy that the guy's contract apparently states that he has a right to further use any personal design he is given. What a money-grabber. I don't think GrayWolf was in the wrong at all - this jeweller was using her work for his own financial benefit.
Jan. 16th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
I would love to see that contract myself. I don't believe that her friend would have knowingly signed Greywolf's art away. When it comes right down to the legalities, it wasn't the friend's art to sign away, it belongs to Greywolf - and she did NOT relinquish ownership.
(no subject) - rakshepsaar - Jan. 17th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cissa - Jan. 17th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rakshepsaar - Jan. 17th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
Hmmm well he's clearly trying to act all threating knowing he/she has been caught red handed. Sadly your friend should have asked you first that he/she was getting it made then you could have drawn up a simple premission to allow only have the piece made for them and not for resale. Clearly this gentleman is just trying to scare you off, I'd hold to your guns save any letters or emails from this guy even thoughs communications to your friends, get your designs and any referance matterial contracts that showed the design is yours. Then if the guy has pulled the product aske that he show proof that the casts where destroyed, any records of sales he sold, and all pieces that are in stock either be sold off and a precentage of the sale goes to you.

His responce is quite typicial, they try to rattle your cage first making a big display even quoting they had been in such big cases. Your lawyer did well the letter was to the point, business like and professional. You are not there to be his friend its your design and you should be compensated for it. Keep an eye on the guy give the letter to your lawyer and fiollow his or her advice. dont let the bullies win.
Jan. 16th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
(Ahem, I'm not the victimized party here :P)
(no subject) - acrothdragon - Jan. 16th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Jan. 16th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
weird! I live in the same state as this guy. I have some jewelry designs I want made...I'll be sure to avoid him! :P
Jan. 16th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
Lastly, Ingrid, it was not at all necessary to send me such a threatening fax letter. I would have
been very cooperative if you had just asked for a commission or that I remove the pendant
from my site.

hahaha, doubt it. good for graywolf for standing up for her art. also, am loving the whole 'nobody wanted it anyway' thing. sour grapes, much?
Jan. 17th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
"am loving the whole 'nobody wanted it anyway' thing. sour grapes, much?"

My thoughts exactly.
Jan. 17th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
Okay, some general info that folks need to know straight up.

Nearly any business you go to with original art like this is veery likely to rip it off after the fact, and trying to force them not to by legal means is damn near impossible.

Tattoo places are especially bad about this, and are nearly 100% going to tell you to take a flying leap if you get mad about it.

These people make money off of someone else's art; they see anything they can get their hands on as potential future profit.

There ARE craftsmen who will offer written guarantee that a design will never be copied; but they usually charge a corresponding amount of cash for that guarantee.
Some jewelers within fandom are more scrupulous and understanding, but even there you take a chance if your original art is appealing enough.

Bottom line, buyer beware and no deal is binding unless its in writing.
And even then, enforcing the law is hard and expensive- its usually best to deal with someone you know personally, or whom friends know personally and can vouch for.


Jan. 17th, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC)

I'll second that, some tattoo parlour once tried to get me to sell them the rights to a piece of fanart I'd done for another artists and couldn't understand why I'd refuse even though I stated the rights were not mine to sell.
(no subject) - featherlady_jt - Jan. 17th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Jan. 18th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ironbadger - Jan. 17th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Jan. 18th, 2007 07:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Jan. 21st, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
Wow Ingrid, I'm really sorry you had to deal with this asshole. I think it speaks volumes that, in spite of his assertion that he would gladly go to court over this, he chose to comply with your C&D immediately.

The FBI thing is cute, in a defiant kitten sort of way.
Bottom line, if it went to court and both parties had the time and resources to pursue it, GrayWolf would win. As for slander and libel accusations made elsewhere, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. What a putz.
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )


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