Bleeding to death...

4 min read

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merimask's avatar
I've been very discouraged and disappointed lately in the massive amount of copyright infringement I've been confronted with.  I feel like I'm supplying free design development for every talentless, unimaginative hack in the world, and it's got me down.

I'm involved in no less than three suits right now, and it's breaking me financially.  Legalities prevent me from saying who they are against...but they stalk my blog and mine my sites for designs on a daily basis, so I bet they're reading this right now.  All I have to say to these people is this; it's NOT cool to steal someone's designs and call them your own.  That "three differences added and it's MINE" defense only works for fashion design, not art, so get that idea out of your head.  Merimask is a trademark, and I've been busily linking all my copyrights to my trademark, and all registered under the category of "art", not "fashion".  Trademarked elements are always protected.  Underselling a popular artist with cheap badly-made versions of their own designs isn't just cowardly and lacking in character; you're going to be liable for royalties/damages by the time I get through with you.  And yes, I'll fight this if I have to take a second mortgage out on my house.  It's a matter of principle now. 

That said, I have to tell all my fans and followers this; I'm learning quite a lot about copyright infringement in the modern era via my attorney, and I wasn't aware that really, public campaigns against infringement are not only completely legal, it's encouraged.  There's no such thing as defamation or slander if what you're saying is the truth. I get notices ~daily~ from DevArt followers and friends, showing me this or that example of either my images or my designs being exploited in ways I wasn't aware of and do not sanction.

So do me this favor; if you see something of mine out there, and it's on someone's site and you don't see "merimask" anywhere in the credits, call them on it.  Or if you see an online craft shop and some hack is trying to sell a clockwork rabbit mask with all my design elements on it, badly executed and priced at a third of mine, supply them with a link to my original and ask them how they sleep at night.  You can do this.  It's perfectly ok for you to do this.

I'm very visible and that makes me very vulnerable to this kind of crap.  You don't have to be bitten by a big shark to bleed to death in this ocean; hundreds of bites from little fish can kill you too.  At this point I'm having a hard time wanting to keep coming up with new designs.  Not for lack of ideas, but because I'm sick of seeing everything I come up with copied within weeks (or even days) of inception.  I started making art so that I could support myself, and now it seems like I'm making art to support perfect strangers with no scruples.

But here's the good part; I KNOW there are so many people out there who really love what I do.  I've always been open and encouraging towards new artists and I've been an active part of the online art community, and I've made many friends out there.  If there's an army of copycats and cheats, there's also an army of admirers, customers and supporters of my art.   I'm certain of it.

I'm asking you guys to be proactive.  Don't get abusive, don't be trolls.  Do link sources when confronting a copycat or thief.  I have completely documented every one of my designs in my DevArt gallery here...everything is dated, copyright-protected, and unalterable proof that I came up with my design when I say I did, and you are welcome to share those links and images in public for everyone to see. 

Don't let me bleed to death alone here. 
© 2014 - 2021 merimask
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Roaring-Flame-Cat's avatar
Stealing a mask (image or otherwise (like buying a mask of yours and selling it for a profit)) and claiming it's theirs is one thing. But using your masks as inspiration is another... I know you can't mention who's stolen your masks... but unless I'm misreading this, I almost feel like your saying that even using another person's art as inspiration is stealing... If that's the case, I don't agree with that... because by that statement we would all be sued by one another right and left. Reporting stolen artwork is always something people should do too, but I don't think your fans need to be rallied up. If your fans are honest and true, they would report the stolen artwork anyway. But the thing is too, you've made tutorials, so if someone heavily uses an idea that you shared, and it heavily looks like your mask, and they try to sell it and it does, is that stealing too? I'm not trying to be an ass, but I'm trying to figure out where all of this stemmed from. Again I know you can't provide any names or images, but I feel that having a lawsuit is a bit extreme... then again I'm not nationally famous... so maybe it's a bigger deal than I think it is... but mimicking is the highest form of flattery. It may be offensive, but if someone is making masks because YOU inspired them, and make masks that are Leather, one, piece, painted, and have a flair all their own... then where is the problem? 
merimask's avatar  You obviously have no idea what I've been dealing with.…    ...which was stolen from here:…
They even put their watermark on my work.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I find dozens of new listings like this every week.  There are hundreds of listings like this...foreign companies using my images to sell their products (sometimes, just to bait and switch, and cheat people), without my permission.

Should I be flattered?
Roaring-Flame-Cat's avatar
I see. Yeah, in which case this is a no-no. I was thinking that people were making masks of their own that resembled yours, and that was the issue. No, I agree with you on this, taking pictures of your masks and trying to claim them as their own, with a water mark no less is totally not ok. 
System1's avatar
seeing your masks I would think they are so original, someone would be very ignorant to copy them and pass them off as their own. your masks are amazing and I will also keep a look out for any copies
Epic-Leather's avatar
Wow I didn't realize it was so bad to this extent.  Not to worry though, I always keep a look out for artisan's work I see out in the internet and if the creator isn't listed I always call them out and link to the original.  We artisans have to stick together. I'm with you 100% on the theft aspect, no talent hacks always looking for a quick buck through no effort of their own.  I wish you the best on your legal battles, its a shame that something like this is even necessary.  I really shouldn't be but I'm amazed at the lack of honor and respect some people have for other "fellow" artisans.  Keep up the fantastic work, you are an inspiration for us all.
Andartha's avatar

I'm sorry you have to deal with this kind of sh**.

Do you have a tumblr post with this info? Because I'd re-blog that in a hot second to signal boost!
Cruel-Quillish's avatar
What about using your masks as inspiration for character outfit designs? One of my characters wears fox masks and I kind of feel bad now, because when I was creating him I had your fox masks in mind.
drastic77's avatar
Ahhhhhhhhh, so disappointing to hear that you are dealing with this. After seeing your masks on DA, I said to myself that once I get out of the "starving" category I would purchase one of your beautiful masks and have been watching ever since.  I know you will win your battle.  One unfortunate side effect of having high exposure as an artist is having your work reproduced.  And with people and their casual re-shares of images on social media networks, it's only going to get even worse as more and more people have the internet available to them.  

Don't let those copy cats get to you.  Why?  Because the sub-par copies that people waste their money on will fall apart, the color will get on their skin and give them rashes and ruin their clothes.  History says that bootlegs have always been sub par and made those foolish enough to buy them a laughing stock.    

You are the originator and will always be, they will never be able to follow suit.  Those willing to pay for cheaper were never your patrons or supporters and were never going to be. By all means continue fighting, do not give up  your fight against the thieves, but at the same time, don't let them disrupt your creativity and what you are good at.  You can't let them steal your art and push you out of what you love doing.  You have to keep creating for those who really love and support your craft.  You will win and this will come to pass.           
JuliaGraceArts's avatar
I adore your work and am incredibly sad and angry to hear about this. Hang in there! We'll look out for you. Stupid art thieves.
RyokiArt's avatar
We've got your back! I'll make sure to report and inform anyone that I see trying to copy your work.
SilverDragon40's avatar
Would you be against creating a how-to properly copyright-protect work posted online?
Pos-Sess-ed's avatar

Speaking from experience, I know how discouraging and taxing (emotional, physical, and monetary) lawsuits are, even if you're right and 'winning'. (Only the lawyers win.) 

Unfortunately, there are always going to be hanger-ons and leeches to those with real imagination and skill, but do your best to persevere.  As much as possible, try to keep their antics from discoloring your world... after all, there is a huge difference between a genuine Merimask creation and a cheap knock-off. 

My prayers are with you.

Paolyx's avatar
I'm always amazed how some people always try to take away credits from a popular artist and still try to call their theft "original". Why do they go through all that trouble when there's no way they can win this ?
Nocturnaliss's avatar
I somehow arrived here through Facebook and I want to say, I think it's absolutely appalling and disgusting what you're going through. I took a quick glance at your gallery and am thoroughly impressed with the quality and the beauty of your designs... for people to rip these off is despicable.

I hope you'll win all those lawsuits. People need to understand it's NOT okay to take someone else's creations and call them their own. Sadly, I fear only an artist truly understand the time and effort that goes into creating... still. I'm hoping for the best for you.
Keyshe54's avatar
I am always keeping an eye on for my fellow artists and help when I can-- also veeeery careful 'what' I buy. I personally think there should be a banning (or a very strict screening proses) of many countries on places like eBay, Amazon and what not--as they steal and infringe copyrights all over the place... :/ 
RuehlLeatherWorks's avatar
At one point I had sold a leather belt pouch using a design that I created myself. The person who bought it was also a leatherworker and he attempted to contact me about making the pouches for several friends. When I didn't reply within a week, he simply traced the pouch that I made, mass produced it, and started selling them at a Ren-fest. Not only that, but he had the gall to post photos of his "New Pouches" on the same site where he purchased MY pouch!

That said, it happens all the time, unfortunately. It's far easier in the modern age to take ideas from people online and sell them as your own. DeviantArt is rife with this sort of theft, especially from Asia. Many Asian countries don't have copyright laws, so they think it's OK to take stuff from all other countries, too.
rozdraws's avatar
This is part of why I don't upload as much anymore. I uploaded something to my PERSONAL FACEBOOK and had it get stolen by someone in Africa. The same piece was used from here (a different version than the one from FB) on someone's music video on Youtube. I've been told by artists that if I upload it, I'm basically offering it to people for free.. but I do digital art and there is literally no other way for me to do this and actually get it to an audience. I had someone steal something from here and put it on Redbubble (for nearly a $25 profit no less) and then caught them favoriting stuff on here AGAIN and threatened them with a lawsuit if I saw them do it at all. I still have their store bookmarked, just in case. It's so upsetting that people think that they can steal art and profit from it. And even worse when other artists encourage them to do it. I'm so sorry this happened to you :( I really love your work, and I will keep an eye out and do what I can if I see it!
lion-essrampant's avatar
:heart: Good luck with your suits.
BlackDog624's avatar
Why would anyone do such a thing? We have enough monsters in this world all ready -- I've been a fan of your work for years! I wish you well and may you fight this system with loyal fans in mind. I'll fight for you as well, you are a wonderful, talented artist and I'd hate to see that passion fade because of all this. 

Stay strong Merimask!
Treyos's avatar
I don't frequent the likes of ebay or Etsy, but if I see anything, you know I'll be all over them.  Keep the faith!  (In yourself, especially!)
Shadow-Blossom888's avatar
You go! Punish the hacks! We'll all be here supporting you :)
Last-Verse's avatar
Keep your spirit up! Don't let these guys steal the talent God gave you! Pray for justice and peace, and keep looking for the good in the world. I love seeing your work, and I'll be praying for you :)
Ceasarex-the-mage's avatar
I hope that not only the law, but the universe as well brings the hammer upon those frauds... and fast! I hope they get the book thrown at them... I suggest War and Peace, it's a rather large book lol.
StrawberryJam1313's avatar
It's a ridiculous notion that people would even think of copying anyone else's designs, let alone actually do it. It just shows that some people are as despicable as it gets... Don't lose hope, we're on your side! :) As soon as I get enough money (which might take a long while, haha) I'll be sure to buy your amazing masks. Until then, I will definitely keep a lookout for copycats.
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