sincere form of flattery

I found this website this AM via twitter. I’ve thought a lot
about the whole copyright thing with the internet, especially after 2000 when I
posted a picture of one of my eyelet Coptic bound journals and then sold one to
another binder. Shortly after that she started selling nearly identical journals.
Adding insult to injury she started to teach a class on how to make them. Angered
I sent her a polite email asking how she could do that to another craftsperson.
The email I received back was rude and just short of telling me to “ piss off.”

Around that time I was selling my books and art steadily on
eBay. I was doing well with it, which was good, as I was working a crappy
Dayjob making peanuts for money and needed the additional income. I had started
to make Coptic bound leather journals with wrap around covers. They sold well and
steadily. I was clearing an additional $200/month on the journals. I sold one
to a lady down south somewhere and she started making them too. The design I
was selling on eBay was not original and a centuries old design, but I was one
of the first of the new wave of crafts people to leave a raw edge on the flap
closure and I was one of the few to sell on eBay that early. (This is beside
the point) I didn’t really care that she started to make and sell the journals
on eBay, her product was subpar; featured shitty photos, fewer pages and were
overpriced. What upset me was that she has copied my listing word for word.
Back in the early 2000’s eBay required tedious hours of hand coding listings
with HTML, especially if you wanted your listing to appear decent. I spent
hours making my listing description one of a kind and well designed and she
copied it verbatim. I was really worried that her subpar books and listings would
be confused with mine.

Again I sent a polite email. This time only to be ignored.
After a few days I sent her another email politely requesting she not use my
work again. This time I got the rude “piss off” email. This is when I got
really mad. I sent a polite but firm email letting her know that if she didn’t
change the listing I was reporting her to ebay. She sent another rude email
back. I forwarded everything to eBay. The following day her listings still used
my html and words but were jumbled. A few days later the listings all came
down. She relisted everything later, using her own words but still used my html
coding. UGH.

The bottom line is that sure, imitation is the sincerest
form of flattery, but when there is outright theft of ideas and work it can infringe
upon the livelihood of the originator of the item. What really concerns me is
when the work is subpar. I had a few of my buyers email me to tell me they had
been scammed by the other seller on eBay, who it seems was not above
impersonating me as well. Every buyer told me the same story that the journal
had crappy 20lb bond paper inside, stitches were loose and that the leather
didn’t feel great and everything smelled slightly off. Here she watered down my
“brand” my image of well crafted items with a serious attention to detail and
craftsmanship. The other lady who was teaching the classes infringed on my
ability to teach online classes of my work but her work was as good as mine and
I was cool with that, she wasn’t hurting my image as a crafts person, just
cutting into my ability to make a living. (on a side note, I offered to at least one of my buyers, that if they wanted to pay me a small fee, I'd rebind the poorer journal properly.)

I guess that anytime you make something cool someone will
rip you off. Take for instance my hedgehog notebooks, I make it clear I was
inspired by the moleskine. I just took the moleskine style of stitching (smythe
sewn) used better paper and wrapped it in a leather cover or handmade paper. Read
my entry about the “hedgehog” or moleskin notebook here. Remember to take it

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery unless it waters
down your brand or image.