Why the grumpy face you ask? I can only think that he must be responding to my stress level these days. The holiday rush of Christmas orders, the long lines at the post office & the overwhelmingly sad and staggering recent events in the news are enough to make me a bit on edge. But add a large, South Korean company stealing KLTworks designs and it's enough to make me a little bonkers with frustration. I'll be honest, after events this last Friday, I didn't even want to say anything about this issue because it really didn't seem that important in comparison and I didn't want to add to the stream of bad news. But I know I need to say something - so here it goes...
There is a large, South Korean company called The Jany that seems to be making a habit of stealing independent designers and small shop's designs. I found out on Thursday from a favorite blogger and KLTworks supporter that while she was looking up some Seventy Tree designs that had been stolen by this company, she found that my kitty tee was ripped off.
Wow, she wasn't kidding. This favorite KLTworks design was one of the first drawings I had screen printed on tees back in 2007. It's actually a drawing of our cat Kiki. As I scrolled down the page, I noticed that my owl and rabbit drawings were also stolen! It's hard to make sense as to why large companies feel the need to steal from smaller designers. I'm sure if they put their heads together someone within their company could come up with some interesting ideas, wouldn't you think? It's an integrity issue that is all to common. The internet is an amazing place- I love all of the opportunities that it brings, but it's also is a breeding ground for situations like this to happen.
While spending some time on The Jany website a few things were clear. They are very vague about contact information and I could easily find at least eight other designers that had their designs ripped off. The list of designers that The Jany has stolen from is getting longer ...
While companies overseas are more difficult to work with and abide by different copyright laws than we do in the US, there are some things that we as designers and owners of small shops can do to make a difference. Some of the artists I mentioned are keeping in contact and supporting one another in efforts to putting a stop to this company's stealing. By working together we can hopefully get The Jany's attention. A "cease and desist" letter is in the process of being drafted as well. Social networking is proving to be extremely beneficial too. In the short time after Stacie (Gingiber) posted her blog post on this subject, she noticed that The Jany had removed her design (the red fox plush) from their site!
Here a few things you can do to help if you are interested:
Write to The Jany directly and complain about their business practices. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Utilize the power of social media and share this story everywhere so our chances of getting our products removed from this site increase.
Write a review on their website- you can post it under the stolen design while mentioning that the design is stolen. *update 12/18- it appears that The Jany has made it a bit difficult to leave feedback due to the number of people that commented (thank you for your efforts). Apparently you need to make up a password now.
Things like this happen all of the time, I know. A little different situation happened to me a few years ago- it leaves a person feeling helpless and violated. It's so wonderful to have a network of fellow designers, and social media savvy friends at times like these. If you are an independent designer with a small shop, you might want to keep an eye on this company. Thanks so much for your support! It truly means the world to me. -Kristin
* (12/20/12) Just a quick update: Everyone that wrote to The Jany, re-posted our photos, tweeted, blogged, or pinned- please take a minute to give yourself a high five or a pat on the back- anything that gives you a warm feeling. Hopefully you received a response letter from The Jany today. Because of all our collective efforts, they are now pulling all of the stolen designs from their sites & stopping production of the products in question. They were polite & understanding in their response to the feedback. I am still waiting for my letter & will update when I know more. Thank you, thank you from every part of my heart. I 'm overwhelmed with gratitude & amazement. Social media is truly amazing...