Thursday, March 4, 2010

Forever Stolen

Well I'm not the first and I'll likely not be the last.
But it seems I've joined the list of Australian artists getting their work ripped off by major Australian fashion chains.

I received a comment a couple of months ago on my most popular photograph on the website deviantART from a girl saying she saw my image printed on a shirt in the clothing store Forever New and she'd recognised it as mine. I went in first thing the next day to have a look and sure enough, my polaroid was displayed among eight other images on one of their tops. They'd removed my copyright 'watermark' which stupidly was really tiny and way too easy to remove and I've since decided to use the massive watermark provided by deviantART.

I posted (and emailed) a Letter of Demand to the Forever New head office asking them to remove the top and pay me compensation but I received no reply. I then got legal advice and I was basically told there was no point taking them to court and I should just look at getting them to remove the top. Well, I went in there the other day and it's made it's way to the discounted racks so well done Forever New, you got away with it.

I feel so disappointed that people just think they can take and take and take from the internet. I'm not so bothered anymore when I see my work on other blogs or websites without credit to me (it sucks, but what can you do, really) but it's when other people profit from my work that I just can't take it. I understand that they could have just purchased the top with the images on it from elsewhere and just put their tag on it but the fact that they didn't even acknowledge my letter really rubbed me up the wrong way.

If I'd been asked for permission I would have jumped at the chance to be displayed on one of their shirts but now I feel nothing but sadness and disappointment that I've been cheated of what I deserve.

I'm sick to death of reading about other independent artists having their work ripped off by these big chains, like the more recent incident of Tabitha Emma's Once Upon logo used by Alannah Hill without permission.

I don't know what I hope to gain from writing this here but I guess it's all I can do. Have a bit of a whinge and hope it doesn't happen to any more people. Thanks to all those who offered advice, I wish something could have been done but, yeah.


  1. so there really isnt anything that can be done? i cant understand how that is possible???

  2. she could theoretically sue them, but it would likely cost more money in legal fees than she would get in royalties, and for independent artists, that's not money just lying around. That's why these companies get away with it.

    I'm sorry this happened to you and I'm glad you've put this event out there. It is one step towards protecting others.

    PS cute polaroid!

  3. I wonder who the other artists are on that shirt? Maybe you could collectively sue?

  4. What a bummer! In this new age of artists, blogs, and the Internet it seems like this will just keep happening until stricter laws get passed. It's amazing what people can get away with!

  5. Oh my goodness
    I'm quite disappointed, before this moment I really did adore shopping at Forever New.
    But goodness,, I lost respect for them.

    Its a total shame how often things are ripped I remember a case when Nike/Adidas ripped a photograph from an artist.

  6. thats really sad, Forever new must have a really grubby design team that obviously can't do their job. If only there was some sort of loophole that would let you walk in and take all the shirts without getting arrested

  7. Can't believe you bought one :P

    xo Sorry mate, I'm sick to death of it. We need a national campaign that includes pictures like these above.

  8. @ ange - i have no idea who the other images belong to, i don't recognise them unfortunately but if someone else does i'd love to know if they're aware!

    @ zines - i had to buy one because they wouldn't let me take a photo of the shirt in the shop!
    if anything i want my $40 back

  9. oh sweetheart i am so mad at them! I am so so sorry this has happened to you! It makes me so so mad!

  10. i know how you feel hun! I live in a relatively small community and last year another clothing company bought a hooded dress off me under their sons name. A month later i found it traced, reproduced and sold on mass in their clothing store. At the time they bought the hoodie dress off me i had only made 4 in that style, and they have since filled their store with them and continue to sell them despite many requests for them to cease. As an independent designer it SUCKS that larger enterprises can get away with thing like this, knowing we can't afford to legally pursue them! I know i found, and still find it genuinely heartbreaking, and im sorry its happened to you too.

    My original:

    thier en mass reproduction:

    So angry that it keeps happening to independent designers everywhere

  11. i want to know who the sneaky jerks are that are stealing everyones work! im so sorry it happened, you deserve so much more pheebs and we're all behind you.

  12. You poor thing. I found your post through a retweet and I think the best thing you can do is get the word out there. This is the first I've heard of the crappy label and you can be guaranteed it will be my main topic of conversation whenever it comes up. Complete boycott. Values still mean something to a lot of us and those big douchebags only forget about people power because we do first.
    Good luck with your work in the future.

  13. what a disgrace. i hope you get full compensation some way somehow.

  14. what the? i can only imagine how totally shitty you must of been. I would have totally gone off the rails.

    how dare they steal your original work for profit. grr. that makes me so mad, im just not going to shop their anymore.

    omg i am so digusted.

  15. If this ever happens to you again, act like you're thrilled that they chose to purchase the rights to your image and send their design department an invoice (check Getty Images for proper merchandising licensing fees). Make sure the invoice indicates that you'll charge them a fee if payment is remitted more than 30 days past the invoice date. If you send 3 invoices with no response, send a letter from your "Collections" department, stating that an invoice is past due, and now in collections, and if it isn't paid immediately, legal action will be taken. It's much easier to get a lawyer involved when they don't think it's IP rights in question -- but rather unpaid invoices.


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