Monday, April 16, 2012

Art Theft Update

Remember yesterday how I shared that email from the sarcastic art thieves? Well, I've confirmed another of their victims: me.

Sadly, I said one of the first thoughts to go through your head was "is any of that art mine?" when an email informs you that "About the only 'art' our websites have is stolen or 'not quite legally borrowed' as our lawyers tend to say." Turns out these instincts and worries were all too true!

Here is what I found:

The offending image. The base photograph is mine, but they've also spliced in stolen artwork from not just Joe Tucciarone, but also Jeff Poling and Chris Srnka!

Here is my original. If you compare the two you can see exactly where they have brushed out Lillian, and cloned elements to fill in and/or extend the photo.

Nowhere on the page is there a link back to me (or all those other artists) or a credit line... 

With this discovery I've decided to reveal the website, more for censorship and boycott reasons. Before you rush off to make sure none of your work is there, and give them more hits and traffic, I can assure I've checked very thoroughly and no one's art from ART Evolved is on this site.

The majority of what they've stolen are people's photographs and movie stills from the Jurassic Park movies, Walking with Dinosaurs, and other CG documentaries. The very few artistic works present are professional level ones like Mr. Tucciarone's (and my other confirmed victim... whom I won't name without permission), that have been mashed into photo backgrounds like mine. Most of the photos are not related to palaeontology (again most of the Dinosaurs are from film stills... 20-30% are photographs of statues from museums or outdoor theme parks) and are either people's family vacation photos or current affairs shots.

The offenders are the Center for Cretaceous Studies, and I would appreciate it if you considered boycotting them (perhaps with one visit to ensure none of your stuff is there). They have demonstrated with their sarcastic remarks about art theft and the outright act of doing it, they have no respect for the actual effort it takes to actually create art or photographs.

The question remains what am I going to do about this?

Normally I wouldn't care all that much about this amateur mashup to my photograph. For one they removed my actual artwork from the photo, and mangled the photograph pretty badly (and in honest neither the art or photo were that amazing to begin with). It's not like what they produced is going to get them famous.

There is a minor issue with them making money off it though. Their site has ads which leads me to suspect they get money from traffic. Some of that traffic is due to their picture content. Guess what I'm a share holder in that content, yet I haven't received a cent.

However to me it is their boastful attitude of knowingly taking this without my permission that has pissed me off so much!

I have a fairly lenient creative commons on this piece. All you need to do is not make any money off it, and credit me for its existence (I did go to the effort of taking the photo, not to mentioning paying to get myself to Australia and into that zoo, something they clearly weren't willing to do). How much is that to really ask? Link back to me... (Well okay and technically contact me if you're modifying my stuff, BUT a link or credit still would have appeased me!).

Since they couldn't be bothered to do that, and have told me directly they think stealing my stuff is worth a joke, I'm going to take measures to have this picture removed from their site. Depending on how that goes that could be the end of it, or simply the beginning (it would be interesting to see what the various studios they've lift stills from would have to say... and I do mean this simply from an academic point of view. What would they do about this infringement on their franchise properties).

Keep you posted. As this is also the second time I've had an annoying misuse of my work I'll throw together what I think a good stand on acceptable uses of your art by others should be.


Clearly the post I created did after this one has had an effect somewhere. In revisiting Cretaceous Studies to see if they'd noticed the campaign building against them here, I discovered they'd re altered my photo. They'd taken out the artwork by Joe Tucciarone, Jeff Poling and Chris Srnka and replaced it with what I think is a statue (please let me know if I'm incorrect).

That is still my photo though, and I'm now unimpressed that they only removed PART of a stolen piece (probably because they were told to) rather than the whole thing... So I'm sending my ultimatum today and GETTING my photo off (with the pleasant reassurance that I'll be wasting all that time and effort they took to re alter my photo again a mere few days after they put all that work into it).