Thank you so much for saying this! This comment really struck me, and I bookmarked the thread because of it. This is something that I deal with on an all too frequent basis, so as silly as it may sound, it did my heart good to read that there are people who strive to be thoughtful and honorable in this regard.
Unfortunately, I have many horror stories of getting my work stolen or misused. For the sake of brevity (not to mention my sanity) I won’t rehash them all, but I’ll offer a few examples:
One of the strangest was when another beadworker copied and pasted my biography and used it on her own website (word for word). That was roughly 17 years ago, and it was one of the first times that I realized just how bold people can be about helping themselves to ideas that they find on the internet. I fear this “boldness” has only grown more extreme over time.
As an Etsy seller, I contend with copycats every day. Hobbyist artists will trawl my shop for “ideas”, reproduce them, and then sell them in their own shops for less than wholesale. As Etsy has grown over the years, so have the number of copycats; I know many full time artists (myself included) who are feeling the pinch of trying to compete against cheap knockoffs of their own work. When one or two people do it, it’s annoying - as the copycat population grows and “competes” by dropping the price lower and lower, it gets harder and harder to make a living. For the most part I just try to ignore it and keep innovating, because confronting them all would be an exhausting game of whack a mole. I do say something to the more extreme/persistent violators, but as you can probably guess, that rarely ends well.
I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, because even though I enjoy being able to save cool images and ideas, I often find my own work on boards with titles like “Stuff I’m Gonna Make” or “Hot Glue Gun DIY”. Yay FWIW, I do not go looking for this - Pinterest often shares these pins/boards with me because they are consistent with my interests. While it makes me cringe to see that, I try to shrug it off. However, I have had 3 different occasions where I’ve had to file a DMCA takedown with Pinterest to remove pins from websites offering unauthorized “tutorials” for my work - using my images with my watermarks removed - to direct people to their sites. I try not to get emotional about it, but there’s no getting around it - it’s painful to see the work of your hands and heart misused this way.
Even more troubling is when the Chinese manufacturers get hold of your designs. I’m not a big fish, but even so, I’ve had 3 or 4 encounters with this since 2013, when Etsy “redefined” handmade, and opened the floodgates for mass produced junk. I have friendly competitors who deal with this on a much larger scale than I do; one friend repeatedly finds her artwork offered on eBay and Alibaba at 10% of her price. Those artists have my deepest empathy and respect - I’m not sure that I could handle that as gracefully as they do.
My most recent kerfuffle with Chinese knockoffs on Etsy was just a couple of weeks ago. I was searching keywords on Etsy to see how my SEO terms were working (which is a necessary part of selling online, and also how I discover a lot of these copycats) - and I spotted a listing that looked uncomfortably similar to one of my mask designs. When I clicked on the listing, I realized that the reason it looked so similar was because they were not only offering my exact design, they were using my photos to sell it! One of the photos showed my daughter modeling the mask … which really hit me where I live. The shop had designs (and photos) stolen from seven different mask makers, and to Etsy’s credit, they did remove the listings. Sadly, this was not enough reason for Etsy to actually close the shop.
So whew, this is much longer than intended - and honestly, I’ve only shared a small fraction of my experiences with this. I’m not posting to throw a pity party, but because I hope to encourage everyone on this forum to be mindful and to be honorable. I know that many of you have Pinterest boards of stuff that you hope to make when you get your Glowforge, and that is (genuinely) awesome. Be inspired, be excited - but please also remember that when you bookmark artwork that inspires you, that artwork was made by a real live human being. To you, the image represents a cool idea to try - but to them, it just might represent their livelihood.