Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

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.


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.
Jan. 17th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
Tattoo parlors are one thing, a crafted item being sold in the manner this is is another. It can be fought. The litigation going on with Dale Chihuly comes to mind. If influence can be grounds enough to take it to court, then outright theft certainly could.
Jan. 18th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC)

There's not much difference. They're both making money off someone elses work.
Jan. 17th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
A common practice is they will keep the template of the art that was made to transfer it to the skin, and use that to recreate the art after you leave.
If you specify you want the template and do not plan to leave it, they wil often make some excuse to take it out of sight long enough to photocopy or scan it.

The reason?

Well, if you went to the effort to bring it in to have it applied to yourself, it must be good enough that someone else might shell out some money to get it themselves, if its available on the walls or in their book of flashes.

The folks running these shops are usually not artists themselves, or poor ones- so they make aliving by stealing designs they run across.
(The little mall shops that have custom vinyl stickers they can make for you from your designs do it too, by the way.)


Jan. 18th, 2007 07:37 am (UTC)

Yeah I know, I wanted to purchase a wolf top for a friend and I stopped off at a T-shirt printing shop and they told me to "just print off an image or get one from the library" because their catelogue had been pinched.

It's amazing how these stores think that's okay.
Jan. 21st, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
Depends on the tattoo artist, but a lot are unscrupulous yes.

My advice: Find a good tattoo artist you really like and think is honest and be up front about wanting the tattoo to be unique. It's the least you could do anyway considering this person is going to craft a picture into your skin that'll last for the rest of your life.
It's worth the time and effort to research.


A_B icon
Commissioner & Artist, Warning & Kudos Community
Artists Beware

Community Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com