I have no doubt in my mind that the subject of copyright will continue to rear it's head long after I am gone. This post will not draw a timely and permanent line under the subject, and yet I feel compelled to write about it.
Today I received an email from a young miniaturist asking for advice. I do not know her very well, which only proves to me how utterly desperate she must have felt reaching out to me.
What she revealed in her email saddened me deeply. She was accused by a rather well known and respected miniaturist of theft. The assumption...and it was an assumption by the accuser...was that the young miniaturist had been inspired solely by this persons blog, had written a tutorial on how to copy the idea and had then stated that the idea was her own. None of which was apparent in any of the posts that I read.
So let's get a few things straight with copyright and miniatures. It always amuses me when I read 'copyright' in relation to miniatures. I think I can safely say that 99% of miniatures are copies of their life-size counterpart. No one is reinventing the wheel here. There are a hundred ways to hit a nail into a piece of wood but at the end of the day, you're still using a hammer. If you haven't protected your intellectual property through patent, trade marks or designs and
copyright, or can reasonably prove that the idea was yours alone and not copied, then you have very little lawful right over them...whichever country you are from. We all know that when someone screams copyright infringement in our world, what they really mean is that they're pissed and hope the bluff of a court case is enough to get you to stop. They also hope that their relative popularity will attract sympathiser/followers to the cause. Intimidation is an ugly method of getting your own way and it is a huge bug bear of mine. I will not tolerate it on my blog. If you feel in some way that someone has over stepped the mark, have the common decency to contact that person privately...be civil...express how it makes you feel. It is so easy to imagine the worst, believing that this stranger is maliciously attacking that which you hold dear and it rarely proves to be the case.
In turn, the other person may reveal something that explains it all. If you do not know this person, why do you think the worst before considering an alternative?
If you blog about your miniatures, do you ever question why?
Is the motivation
simply a way to showcase the things you own? You have to accept that you are placing it in the public domain. You have chosen to put your ideas at risk from anyone with internet access. If you don't like the idea of someone being inspired by your blog and making miniatures of their own, the simple answer is don't put it out there on social network sites. Better still, just accept the fact that it happens and move on. If you get bent out of shape about those you know about, imagine how bad you're gonna feel about the thousands that you don't? I get it, I really I do. Design is a very personal thing and I completely support anyone who wants to have something individual. But when it gets out, and it is only a matter of time, don't blame those who copy when you have given them the means to do so.
Do you blog because you want to share how you make miniatures? If the skills you've learned are never passed down, who the hell is going to take up the mantle of miniaturing once we're gone? What legacy are we leaving future generations? Are miniaturists only allowed to improve their skills if they pay the huge bucks to enroll in specialist courses? If someone reads one of my tutorials and makes it better then great. That is how progress works. I couldn't give a teeny rats bum hole if I'm cited as the source. All I care about is that people are making miniatures. It's a reciprocal institution you see. If I inspire, a new generation of miniaturists make something bigger and better. The miniature hobby improves, the range of available pieces grow. In the last three years of reading blogs, I have only ever read one miniaturist citing Angie Scarr as her inspiration and yet every foodie uses Angie's caning technique in their designs. Do you think Angie cares? Do you think she has problems filling her work schedule or selling her books. Na-ah.
Do you use blogger as an advertising platform to sell your miniatures? Then you need to understand some very basic traits of your target audience. There are miniaturists who make and those who buy. The makers, no matter how hard you try to foil them will find a way. The mind set of those who like to craft are often the same people who like to problem solve. They will look at an object, work out how it is made and transfer the idea into miniature form. If you are trying to protect your income from those people, then stop! You are wasting your time. Do you intend to bind everyone who participated in your course with a secrecy pact? People talk. The information spreads like tree branches until everyone knows. Concentrate on those who have no interest in making miniatures but love the stuff you make. They are the people who will support your endeavors.
and so endeth the sermon.
I hope above all things, that no one ever feels so crushed by false accusation that they close their blogs forever. That would be the greatest travesty of our hobby.