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Johanna Blakely: Lessons from fashion’s free culture

I thought this was an interesting view point about copyright & fashion:

she brings up a very good point about the high class labels realising that the people how are buying the knock off are not their target market so it really isn’t effecting their sales. But she doesn’t talk about what happens when labels are knocking off & selling to the same market…

Posted by YTWWN  |  5 Comments  |  in Fashions

Emily the Strange Sues Possible Inspiration Source

One of the biggest post we have had on here thanks to chelseamca was about Emily the strange and the uncanny similarities it has with Nate the great. Original post here if you havent seen it.

Well now Emily is sueing Nate the great…

Below taken from

Emily the Strange has a movie in development for 2010. Often, when that happens, filmmakers want to be sure that the property ownership is clear. (No one wants another Watchmen situation.)

So, in an example of how twisted our legal system can be, Cosmic Debris (owners of the Emily the Strange property) has sued Marjorie Sharmat and Marc Simont. Who are they? The writer and illustrator of the Nate the Great series of children’s books (news via Robot6). One particular book from 1978, Nate the Great Goes Undercover, features a character named Rosamond who had long black hair and was kinda creepy.


Also more from

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Cosmic Debris Etc. has sued two children’s book authors, claiming its “Emily the Strange” character does not infringe on Marjorie Sharmat’s and Marc Simont’s “Nate the Great” copyrights. Cosmic Debris acknowledges that both characters are “Goth Girls,” but says such characters abound in popular fiction.
Cosmic Debris cities Morticia and Wednesday from “The Addams Family,” Lydia from “Beetlejuice” and Vampira of “The Vampira Show.”
Emily the Strange is used to promote skateboards, T-shirts, comic books and other merchandise. Cosmic Debris claims it created the character in 1991.
Though Sharmat and Simont claim Emily was inspired by their “Rosamond” character, Cosmic Debris denies it. “Emily” has dark bangs and pale skin and wears a black dress, but “Rosamond” is “rosy cheeked and smiling,” and wears dresses of varying color. The only similarity seems to be that the two are often accompanied by cats, the complaint states.
Cosmic Debris asks that the defendants be restrained from recovering damages regarding Emily, and that they be prohibited from claiming that Emily infringes on their work. The plaintiff is represented by Mark Lee with Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

Download the case here:

Posted by YTWWN  |  40 Comments  |  in Design, Fashions

What to Do When Someone Steals Your Work

Here is another good article about copyright and what to do if you have been ripped. It is aimed at web based issues but it is very insightful and could help a few of you out who have had you site ripped.

As Taken from Freelanceswitch by David Lechnyr


How do you feel when someone steals your ideas?

At some point in your freelance career, you may find yourself successful at what you do. Chances are, if you’re reading this, that you have or that you’re on your way. Unfortunately, one common indicator of success is the proportion of individuals who attempt to copy, borrow or steal original content from you. Realistically, this has likely already happened to you at some point in the past without your knowledge.

I’ve been frustrated by this numerous times. I’ve had carefully crafted text that I’ve sculpted over the years lifted from my website and used without my consent on a competitor’s site. Occasionally, I’ve stumbled across an entire duplication of one of my original website designs, something that I consider less than flattering.

You’d think that this would get easier with time. It doesn’t. It’s nothing short of a violation of your hard work. Knowing that someone else is benefiting on your behalf and at your expense is a royal pain and, from a business perspective, a serious threat. Knowing how to prepare, identify, deal with and respond to this type of copyright infringement is quickly becoming one of the necessary skills for any serious business owner.

How to Prepare

At a minimum, make sure to include the following phrase at the bottom of your creations, substituting Your Legal Name with your name and the year with the first year that your content was copyrighted in:

Copyright 2009 Your Legal Name. All Rights Reserved.

Making it Legal

If you simply leave things as is, you’re technically using what some people refer to as a “poor man’s copyright”. What you’re lacking is an enforceable copyright. To do this, you’ll need to actually file your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Since some types of intellectual property such as websites change and adapt to demand constantly, you may need to re-file your copyright after each significant change, or simply re-file every year. The cost is low, yet the benefit is significant.

You’ll also want to make sure that you have an established business relationship with a lawyer who can represent you. If you’re operating as a formal business, the time to find a company lawyer is not when things start to fall apart. You’ll want someone who is familiar with your business and willing to go to bat for you should you end up needing to enforce a serious copyright violation. Your lawyer can also assist with the filing of the copyright paperwork if you’d rather not deal with the process. Regardless, you need a good small business lawyer.

The Psychology of Influence

While having the basic copyright phrase on your content helps you legally, it isn’t very effective at actually preventing someone intent on copying part or all of your website. One common practice is to add a phrase similar to the following below your copyright notice:

No part of this website may be reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of Your Legal Name.

I’ve found that, in practice, this doesn’t really work. And here’s why: This warning is more of a description of what is not allowed, something that is unlikely to be a psychological motivator for someone already predisposed to content theft.

A slightly more effective approach is to use a phrase that implies monitoring as opposed to simply stating the rules. I’m a big fan of where you can either use one of their embedded badges or simply use the phrase, “Page Protected by Copyscape. DO NOT COPY”. I’ve found that this is more likely to prevent theft than the mere mention of What Not To Do. Regardless of the approach you take, your goal should be to indicate the presence of active monitoring.

How to Stay Vigilant

There are more monitoring programs available than you can shake a stick at. Having said that, I find an effective method is to choose one or more phrases that are relatively unique to your work, place them in quotes and set up a Google Alert to notify you automatically when a match is found. Another option is to manually scan for duplication using Copyscape’s search feature or to sign up for one of their automated monitoring services.

How to Respond

So you’ve discovered that someone has duplicated part or all of your content. How do you best respond? Freelancers tend to have limited resources and budgets, and your response needs to keep this reality in check.

The first step should always involve taking a snapshot of the duplicate content, either as a hard copy, or as a PDF. You’ll want this ammunition should you ever need to take action further down the road. The Internet Archive is another great resource for capturing past website content, however it’s not comprehensive across short spans of time and won’t necessarily include the offender’s website.

Your very next step should be to motivate the thief by the mere act of being caught in the act. Send a short, polite e-mail to the infringer asking for the material to be removed. You’d be surprised at how often this works! What won’t work is if you sabotage your chances for success by sending a nasty, angry or threatening e-mail. Instead of stimulating their “I’ve been caught” reflex, you’ll be triggering a more reactive response. In practice, I’ve found this to work with a significant number of violators.

If this fails to get a response, you’ll need to take things up a notch by sending a formal “Cease and Desist” letter to the owner of the website. If the infringement occurred online, you can typically get the mailing address of the owner from or directly from their website. Write a simple, professional letter similar to the following:

I have noticed the strong similarity of elements of your web site to my company’s web site, Your use of material from our site constitutes an infringement of our copyright and therefore subjects you to substantial liability under federal copyright law. Please immediately remove that material from your site and refrain from any further use of any material derived from our web site.

We would prefer to promptly resolve this matter without legal action and trust that your prompt cooperation will allow us to do so. Please send me confirmation that the infringing material will be immediately removed from your web site so that this matter can be resolved. Thank you for your cooperation.

You will want to consult your company’s lawyer to confirm that this language is appropriate for your industry.

What if nothing happens?

Your next step should be to file a notice of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement with Google and the other major search engines. This involves a fair degree of work and is not as simple as you’d think. This will, however, remove the offending site from the search engine results, effectively neutering the majority of the offender’s potential referrals.

At this point, you’ll need to ask yourself the Million Dollar Question: Is the presence of this duplicate content more of a financial threat to you than the cost of having your lawyer file an injunction? If the answer is no, you’ve gone as far as you can probably go. However, if it has a potential to seriously disrupt your business, you’ll want to saddle up with your lawyer. Another litmus test for this is likely to be the geographical location of the culprit versus the geographical scope of your service area. If you provide a service regardless of location, then you’ll likely need to take legal action no matter what.

While nothing in life is 100% certain, hopefully these suggestions and insights will be of use to your freelance life. As with all things, your mileage may vary.


  1. The Internet Archive
  2. The U.S. Copyright Office
  3. Copyscape
  4. Google Alerts
  5. Responding to Plagiarism
  6. WHOIS Lookup
  7. Google DMCA Notification Process
  8. DMCA Notification Process

David Lechnyr is an IT Professional Freelancer providing Internet Marketing & SEO Consultation services to individuals and businesses interested in increasing their search engine presence among the competition. He is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Certified Cisco Network Associate (CCNA), Certified Cisco Design Associate (CCDA) and holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work. You can visit his website here.

Posted by YTWWN  |  9 Comments  |  in Advertisement, Advice, Design, Film, Web

Worth a read…

I don’t usually post stuff like this but I thought this was worth a read…

As Taken from

The truth about copyrights and licensing

I know what you’re thinking…you have an awesome idea for a shirt, but it’s using a well known, copyrighted character.

Hmm,” you say, “I could probably get away with it, right? I mean, it’s not like [insert major corporation here] own every aspect of the character. Besides, what I’m really doing is a parody and hardly looks like it…yeah, it’ll be ok…right?”

Sound familiar?

I get lots of questions from people who want to get into the shirt business asking me about using licensed imagery, sayings, and characters in their designs. They ask me if it’s “ok” because they deviated from the original works by a certain percentage, or because it’s a parody, or some other excuse they claim will allow them to cash in on their design while not getting into trouble. The fact is: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and even quacks like a duck…it’s copyright infringement. That means that the little “personal flair” you add to the design idea isn’t enough to keep you off the radar of any major company protecting their intellectual property rights. Make any excuse you want, but you know what? You’ll have to prove it in court…and do you have enough money to do that? That’s what I thought…

prod wwjd original1 300x300 The truth about copyrights and licensing prod wwjd 300x300 The truth about copyrights and licensing

See the rest of the story here

Posted by YTWWN  |  3 Comments  |  in Design, Fashions, Film
  • What is this place?

    YTWWN is a blog where users have taken notice to a blatant rip off of a creative work, and shared it with us. Sharing and discussing the observations and casualties of improper use of creative property is what we're all about here.

    This is an open blog, so please, add to and join the discussion, but keep in mind that there is a fine line between a rip-off and similarity of ideas. Please read the 'About' page before posting.

    Please use some discretion before posting to help us keep this blog legitimate.

    We look forward to seeing what you have to share.