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Using Artist Beware as a threat?

Hey guys. I've had a problem with a recent customer of mine using Artist Beware as a threat/last resort to get their way. I have used this community to look up questionable clients as well as artists, but I'm very aware of the permanent damage an Artist Beware post can do to one's name, resolved or not. I feel that's been used against me in this case.

The situation I'm in is this: I take custom repeatable pattern commissions that can be printed on fabric, wallpaper, books, etc. I had a client ask me not to sell their design, which I didn't, but I had it publicly listed on my Spoonflower as part of my portfolio. I recently attended a few events that involved me sharing my website with potential clients and editors, and since surface design is an interest of mine, I felt the more work the better.

Fast forward to this week and I get a short email from said client asking me to remove the pattern since it's their character. I'm very aware of artist rights, and not having written over rights I'm fully allowed to have it posted on my shop. It's worth noting, however, that I make next to no sales and was not exactly worried about it selling. Not having it listed for sale, though, would mean it wouldn't be visible on my main page. Editors don't exactly spend tons of time scouring every page on someone's site. You can see where I'm going here.

It's also worth noting that said client and I were on good terms with one another up until recent events that made me uncomfortable to the point of distancing myself. Regardless, I tried to stay as collected as possible to get across 1) That I own the rights to the image 2) I had no recorded sales on the fabric, and 3) The shop is part of my portfolio, which is why it was posted. They acknowledged that Spoonflower would not remove the art, so they informed me that they would come to Artist Beware if it was not removed. Feeling as though my hand was forced, I removed the pattern from my site.

While I feel my actions are justified, I wasn't willing to run the risk them posting about me. So my question is this: When confronted with the threat of an Artist Beware post, what can you even do? This is such a small community and niche audience that I feel it's dangerous to even risk them going through with it. I'd appreciate any input.

Thanks guys!

Community Tags:

Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.
https://artistsbeware.info/

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
kayla_la
May. 2nd, 2014 07:29 pm (UTC)
I want to state that, unless they bought the rights from you that would legally allow them to make such demands, or something else went on that you've left out, I highly doubt we'd approve a post by them on this issue. They were bluffing. We can't do much about people using AB to bluff, unfortunately.

That said, it really does depend on the case. Sometimes people feel they have to use it as a last resort to get it resolved before coming to AB, and other people feel the mere mention of it is good enough to get their way. I feel like people forget that we do have to approve these posts, and you can't just post whatever you want to harass someone who didn't give you what you demanded.

If you know you're in the right, don't let the threat shake you. Remember that they have to get it by -us- first, and we need enough proof for a case for that. If someone threatens you and you think you're in the right, you're always free to make up your own post on a problem customer/artist or even just PM a moderator with details and ask for advice. We've helped in cases like that before, actually!
jakejynx
May. 2nd, 2014 07:54 pm (UTC)
I dunno about sending PMs. I had a question about a potential beware that I sent to two different mods that never got responded to so I just gave up.

Maybe you guys need a community email address or something? Though I doubt anyone would log into it often enough to see new messages in a timely manner.

Edited at 2014-05-02 07:55 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kayla_la - May. 2nd, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 2nd, 2014 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbneko - May. 2nd, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 2nd, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbneko - May. 2nd, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 2nd, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - May. 2nd, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 2nd, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 3rd, 2014 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oceandezignz - May. 3rd, 2014 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 3rd, 2014 01:26 am (UTC) - Expand
slinkslowdown
May. 2nd, 2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
As stated above, the mods have to approve every post. So if there's not sufficient proof that you did something wrong--which to me, it seems like you didn't--, the entry just won't make it through the queue.

And for argument's sake, if it did get posted: In my time here, I've come to see that the members here are very smart and weigh things before judging. I see people asking clarifying questions and pointing out when an artist/commissioner may have intended to do something other than what was assumed, etc. As such, I don't feel like having a beware posted about someone is a "death sentence".

Edited at 2014-05-02 07:34 pm (UTC)
skanrashke
May. 3rd, 2014 03:46 am (UTC)
Well that's for people who bother to read resolutions- there are a lot more people watching AB than participate, and theres one thing this community loves to do, and that's gossip. So even if there was a peaceful resolution, person A could say to person B "Oh no don't commission X, didn't you know they have an AB on them and blahblahblah", because person A read the initial complaint.
jakejynx
May. 2nd, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
There's not really much you can do. That's the double-edged sword that is this community. If your name goes up all you can do is hope that any potential customers actually bother to read the post about you (rather than just see that you've had a beware posted and subsequently not do business with you), and the post explains well enough that you were in the right.

That said, you did agree that you wouldn't sell the art and then technically put it up for sale though, which is a little... eh. He has no way of knowing how many sales you make, so to him it looks like you're reselling it after you agreed not to. I can understand why he'd be upset, since you basically failed to hold up your end of the agreement. It's been mentioned about buying the rights to the image that would allow him to make the demands to not sell it, but... you agreed to what he was asking without requesting payment in exchange. That's sort of on you.

I'm just trying to see it from his perspective, you know? And that's another reason artist_beware is both a good and bad thing--some people will agree with the artist, some will agree with the client.
doirn
May. 2nd, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
It's a strange grey area for me, because it was a verbal agreement in the first place before they did things to make me incredibly uncomfortable. My TOS states I don't sell rights, and they were well aware of how I conduct business. I feel limiting my use of an image I own is, in a way, giving up my rights. I normally wouldn't agree to anything that contradicted my TOS.

I understand seeing it from all points of view, though. More than anything I know that this particular person has given friends of mine trouble, and I felt their approach to the situation was more aggressive than protecting their character. All this said, though, I didn't post the pattern to get revenge or anything. I have my patterns posted to Spoonflower so that potential clients can see the patterns and get a clear idea what they can be used for (fabric, wallpaper, wrapping paper, etc). Their character was generic enough that I wanted to use it in my portfolio.

Regardless, yes, I should have known better and not posted it. I know I won't be in the future, just because I have no want to deal with this person ever again. :\
(no subject) - jakejynx - May. 2nd, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - doirn - May. 2nd, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
magedragonfire
May. 2nd, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
I've never used Spoonflower before, but I see that it does have a cart system for selling products. Do you have that fabric marked as out of stock, or something similar? If not, if you ever did get someone placing a purchase on that particular fabric, what would you do?

It's not completely out of the question for your commissioner to look at it in your shop and assume that it's actually being sold, against their original agreement with you, even if it's only there for portfolio and promotional reasons.
celestinaketzia
May. 2nd, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
This. I'm sorry for having to poke around, but I found a pretty functional portfolio available where the item didn't have to appear that it was being sold.

I can see where the client was coming from. Regardless if you sold the rights or not, you agreed to not to do it without accepting a fee. If the client sees you posting it in your shop, yeah they're going to assume you're going against their wishes.
(no subject) - doirn - May. 2nd, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - May. 2nd, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whoop_zi - May. 2nd, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - May. 2nd, 2014 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - doirn - May. 2nd, 2014 09:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - May. 2nd, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mistresswolf - May. 3rd, 2014 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand
armaina
May. 2nd, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)
You own the rights to it, you aren't selling it, and you designed the pattern. You are allowed to display it.

Being posted here isn't a death sentence, long as you provide clear and honest information, people can read through the posts and understand what's going on. If he does post it, gather information regarding the original agreement, conversations, and post a counter statement, clear, polite and concise, along with the conversations and agreements.
thaily
May. 2nd, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
When they specifically asked you not to sell the design, did you tell them you wouldn't? Because that might count as a binding contract, even if it was established very casually.

Otherwise you might want to add a note that it's not really for sale or find another way to showcase it.

As for using A_B as a threat, unless the customer has more information than you presented in this post I daresay the threat is effectively neutralized. Most artists here will acknowledge your rights and that the customer hasn't bought you out of said rights, so his request is moot.

Heading him off at the pass was probably the best course of action, I don't think the mods are likely to approve their post unless it contains a good deal of new and relevant information.
doirn
May. 2nd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
I honestly cannot remember the conversation it was brought up, but I know that it did and I'm assuming I did say I wouldn't. There was a comment regarding it, but I have since deleted the pattern submission to distance myself from them. But I'm here admitting to it, so that's not really up for debate I suppose, hah.

I really do not think there's anything else to add to the situation on their end. I've met their demands and I posted this here to ease my nerves, I guess. I feel better knowing that being here isn't the be-all, end-all I assumed it was.
ljmydayaway
May. 2nd, 2014 11:23 pm (UTC)
You can choose what price Spoonflower sells your fabric designs for, right? I would just list it with an absurd pricetag like $500/yard or something so no one would be tempted to buy it.

Alternatively, see if Spoonflower would allow you to download the images and post them on your website, or maybe post them on your site and add a "photos copyright to Spoonflower" as a temporary solution until you can have the designs shipped to you to be photographed.
teekchan
May. 2nd, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
If the client asked you not to put it up for sale, and you said you wouldn't, you shouldn't have even with its within your rights to do so. You need to inform the client before hand that it's a store you use as a portfolio and your designs do not sell if that's the case.

You may fully have the rights to do so, but it comes back looking bad on you.

As for using it as a threat, many people do this. If you know you're in the right, just ignore it. I have had many bad clients claim they would post me here, and once I've blocked them, that's the last I hear.

Edit - I want to clarify in the first sentence, that I mean posting it to a site that sells the items, not you actually selling it. All the client sees is a store, and that it can be purchased.

Edited at 2014-05-02 11:27 pm (UTC)
greenreaper
May. 3rd, 2014 03:21 am (UTC)
What everyone above said, only to note that the timing of your agreement might matter. If they asked you after the transaction was completed, it probably has no legal binding because there's no consideration in return.

That said, it looks bad to agree to not have it up for sale yet list it, so. :-)

One possibility if you want it up there and can't fix the system is to set a really huge price just to make sure that nobody buys it. And if anyone does . . . I'm sure you could make it up to the commissioner.
metallik_hasse
May. 5th, 2014 09:36 pm (UTC)
I can only say maybe write SAMPLE on the pattern, and in the description of its listing say it's an example only and NFS?
Just tossing an idea out there. :o
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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