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Stolen Fursuit design

Not a Beware of a specific person, but more of a situation.

I was contacted about a month ago from a fellow asking for a quote on a fursuit. The ref art he sent me was this: http://www.furaffinity.net/view/1885394/
I actually know Rave fox (though admittedly, I never knew his real name. I just knew him as Rave), so I assumed he just wanted to get a new fursuit made of his design. I gave him a quote and we communicated some information back and forth. His language and spelling mistakes seemed a little odd at first, then he asked for a shipping estimate to South Carolina (I knew Rave lived in Canada... so that raised some alarms), and then finally he asked if he could get the suit then pay it off after he received it. Since I knew Rave had gotten fursuit commissions before he knew how the TOS worked and would never have asked such a question, so I decided to do some sleuthing.
I contacted Rave through a local furry forum and asked if he got a commission quote from me, to which he replied he did not. From there, I contacted the fellow who commissioned me, and called him on stealing a reference sheet and someone's copyrighted design. He has since gone silent, and I think I scared him off from attempting to get the suit commissioned by any suitmaker by threatening legal action.

Crisis has been averted for the most part, but it does lead to a question...
What if I had not known the art was stolen and made a suit from the provided ref sheet? Although the commissioner who stole the art would be liable for stealing the design, does any responsibility fall on the artist to make sure the design is not a stolen work in the first place?

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( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
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connorgoodwolf
Nov. 12th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
I'd love to chime in with case precedent, but I got nothing.

I do know of a case where someone used Yappy Fox's design(tracing) for a business mascot/logo. What could happen if such an incident takes case is a cease and desist using the design for the end user.
film2edit
Nov. 12th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
He's had the design stolen by a few folks. Megan Giles has had the same in various places also. One place was I think in Russia.
claytronic
Nov. 12th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
hh can you name the user who tried jacking the design as a warning to other fursuit-makers here?
komickrazi
Nov. 13th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
He called himself Rave Fox as well, and communicated with me via two different emails. I'd rather not post the emails as I don't want any nasty trolling
(no subject) - ljmydayaway - Nov. 14th, 2011 12:53 am (UTC) - Expand
kikai_saigono
Nov. 12th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the warning... Naming the user would be helpful, but he'll probably have another account if he tries it again.

But it's a good warning to fursuit makers to be more attentive when dealing with someone who may not be who they say they are.
komickrazi
Nov. 13th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
He called himself Rave fox as well and contacted me via my webpage, so I do not have a DA or FA for him.
epiceternity
Nov. 12th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
I have to say ditto on naming the person so that if they contact other suit makers, the makers will know to double check it's not someone else's character.
epiceternity
Nov. 12th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
additional thought- it might be worth sending them another email to suggest if they want a fursuit but don't have a character that there's plenty of artists/ makers who take commission to design a character for being made into a suit.

I don't know if it's a case of they wanted that persons specific character design or if it's a case of they don't have a character so nabbed one they liked. If it'd the latter, getting a character designed for them would solve the problem ^^
(no subject) - starcharmer - Nov. 12th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
silveryote
Nov. 12th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
This has actually happened before but not with this character. Someone commissioned Arend Studios with Sabarika's reference art. AS made the fursuit..and eventually Sabarika found photos of the fursuit and it looked exactly like her fursona. Needless to say, she wasn't very happy. I have no idea what the outcome of that situation was though.
synchra
Nov. 13th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
woah. wtf I never heard about that. 8(
marblestheskunk
Nov. 12th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
I think Rave_Fox already has a suit of their sona don't they?

And yeah thats pretty messed up, I'm glad you figured it out though,
poizenkat
Nov. 13th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
some people get multiple suits of one character. I've seen it more than once.
(no subject) - komickrazi - Nov. 13th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marblestheskunk - Nov. 13th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
growly
Nov. 12th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
I would say it's absolutely not the fursuit builder's fault. After all, how could they know? There's thousands of people with furry characters, many of which have an entire cast of characters. These images are spread out over FA, DA, IB, VCL, etc etc. It's impossible to know if it's stolen, and not the maker's responsibility. If the customer pays for it and you want to make the design, make the design.
techno4tomcats
Nov. 12th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
Exactly! It's hard to fault the artist in cases like these; I wouldn't know this was a jacked design if someone asked me to do a commission, and it would be unfair to expect EVERY artist to know EVERY character design. Fault lies entirely with the commissioner if they knowingly/unknowingly took someone else's design.
(no subject) - synchra - Nov. 13th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - growly - Nov. 13th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
mukichan
Nov. 12th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
This does lead to questioning how would a builder protect themselves from angry owners of said characters. I don't remember where I heard it from, but I do remember there being a case where the builder was literally attacked online because they didn't know the character was not the commissioner's but belonged to someone else.
synchra
Nov. 13th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
I actually have had this happen to me as well, except it went even farther.

A known maker.. I'll call him "D" used my artwork without permission. The artwork was made for a friend of mine on commission. "D" took it and made a suit for himself. He only changed a couple minor details on the design. I called him out on it and he has never responded to me. My friend who owns the character I designed for him also called him out on it and he never responded.. We don't know what to do about it. He didn't make money off of it so it's a weird situation.

I have also had countless people trace my personal character sheets or ones I have made for others and take some of the markings from the original designs as well. 8( People steal designs all the time unfortunately... I have never found anyway to do something about this. I point it out to people and ask them, but 99% of the time people just don't respond at all... the other 1% either go into denial or remove it without saying a word to me. x.x
growly
Nov. 13th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
Whoah, that is... weird. Could have been a coincidence maybe?
It's just weird a furry wouldn't know that's not okay, especially if they've been around long enough to be a well-known fursuit maker. o_O;
(no subject) - synchra - Nov. 13th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand
spiffystuff
Nov. 13th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
Legally unless the character has been trademarked (and I believe this takes a chunk of money and documentation so most characters are NOT trademarked, unlike art which is automatically copyrighted) I think you are in the clear.

"Morally"* is another story... if you found out before the suit was sent I think the situation gets wonky. I like the idea of contacting the person who seems to have the original design, ask if they have some history with the commissioner, and maybe trying to work with the commissioner to change some details so they can be told apart.
Hopefully the commissioner isn't trying to exactly imitate someone else, because that would start getting pretty creepy and not something I'd want to enable.
sovy
Nov. 13th, 2011 11:46 am (UTC)
I am not a lawyer.

Add something like this to the TOS. Or Google around and check FA for other fursuit builders to see if they have anything better.

"By submitting a reference picture you agree that you are the owner of the copyrighted material and that you grant the builder the right to create a derivative work of the picture."

----

"Although the commissioner who stole the art would be liable for stealing the design, does any responsibility fall on the artist to make sure the design is not a stolen work in the first place?"

The fursuit builder will be taking most if not all of the risk. The commissioner isn't breaking any copyright laws and the character isn't trademarked. The onus is on the reproducer or distributor when it comes to copyright infringement.

Also, unless Sabretoothedermine explicitly, in writing, sold or gave the copyright to Rave then she owns the picture and you would have needed to go to her to get permission to make a derivative work. Rave would actually have zero say in the matter as far as the law is concerned.
bladespark
Nov. 14th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
This same guy contacted me for a quote on this suit as well! O.o

I also have to wonder... I gave him a price and he told me no thanks because it was too expensive, but I'm not any more expensive than most makers. (And frankly if you're charging less than I am, you need to raise your prices, you're very good!) And now he's asking you to ship first and then he'll pay? Sounds like he's decided he can't afford his stolen design (it is pretty complicated, after all, which always costs more) and is hoping to steal the suit itself as well.
frazzled_niya
Nov. 14th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC)
o_O wow looks like you dodged the proverbial bullet there. Also lucky you do know Rave Fox; have you since let them know there is some person going around with the same SN?
holydust
Nov. 15th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
Considering how protective this original "rave fox" is of
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Considering how protective this original "rave fox" is of <a href="http://www.furaffinity.net/view/1885394/#cid:28510290"">the idea of his individuality</a> (come on, guy, you expected someone not to make that mistake with such a generic name?), I imagine he will probably blow a gasket.
ahem, fixed -- hooray for a crappy keyboard. - holydust - Nov. 15th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC) - Expand
puppetmaker40
Nov. 14th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
I have to agree about adding a clause making the onus on the customer that they own the rights to make a derivative work of the character would be helpful so if you do end up making something that "belongs" to someone else then you can point them to the client.

This is a clear-cut case of theft and they were trying to steal in more ways than one.

Now here is the can of worms that is suiting. You recognized the markings as Rave Fox's marking. And it is pretty distinctive. But, unlike clowning, there is no central database to register a distinctive set of characteristics. And sometimes what may be distinctive to one person is another person's basic generic character. Like the Bio-Hazard symbol that I have seen a number of people use as part of their markings. No one can claim the symbol since it is used to mark...well...Bio-hazard materials for real. So do you refuse to do say a black and red suit that has a Bio-hazard on the belly because Rave Fox has it? Also there are occasions that more than one person can come up with about the same thing about the same time.

It is tricky to cover one's self so that you are in the clear on this sort of thing but unless the character is a registered trademark and they can prove that they have the paperwork, you have done nothing wrong.
miryhis
Nov. 14th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
While I think it's a bit creepy for someone to knowingly take another person's character and try to make a suit of the character... I think Puppetmaker40 is right. There are a bunch of characters that look similar, and it is possible that someone just made a similar character by coincidence. It happens all the time on the internet. No matter how original someone thinks his or her character is, there will always be a character that looks similar. This is especially true for simplistic characters.

But, I ramble. It's nice that you caught this before it got out of hand, however if you happen to to be commissioned for a suit and you unknowingly create another person's character, I think it's the commissioner's fault. It's impossible for the artist to check all the characters in the world and see if it's a 'copy', and even then it could happen to be a similar character.
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