Sunday, November 1, 2009

Copycat Suing Original Artist

... yes, that's right, and guess what for?  For the rights to mass produce and sell the items he copies, basically.  Mr. Rick Wittrig, owner of FirePitArt.com has been selling pretty much exact copies of the beautiful firepit sculptures created by the wonderful, talented, and hardworking artist, John T. Unger.


What if this was you?
John, who owns the copyrights to his firepit sculptures (which he's made since 2005) is being sued by Mr. Wittrig to have those very copyrights overturned!  This is not a case which is likely to hold up in court, and I'm sure Mr. Wittrig is well aware of that fact.  However, it seems clear that he intends to 'outspend' John, since he is in a position to do so.  John's already spent over $50,000 of his own money in court cases fighting Wittrig, and if he cannot come up with the enormous funds necessary to defend his copyrights, a default decision means Wittrig wins.  That simple, and infuriating.  This cannot happen.  The Law needs to protect artists better than that.  There but for the grace of God go any one of us small-time artists who come up with an idea some big business man decides to seize as his own money-making scheme, and while I do not know this artist, I intend to help.

I hope some of you do as well.  Donate.  I just did, it was easy and safe.  Give a dollar.  Give five.  If you feel more strongly, give $75, and for that price take a sculpture of your choosing from this first set of 100 sculptures made from the firepit cutout scraps.  John lets you reserve the exact one by simply saying so in a comment to it's Flickr pic in the set.  (Each 100-piece set will be made in a different color of steel.  This one is colorless, or natural.  Red, orange, yellow, white, and black are also available.)

Put one in your studio or work area as a reminder of how we need to support each other, and that in doing so we make the ability to make a livelihood at being an artist a more attainable goal, not an idea easily desecrated by some unethical thieving businessman with fat pockets.  I've had my work stolen and sold, and not just once.  Many of us know how this feels, and it's not nice.  United States law needs to be more supportive and strong in this regard, and our assistance in helping to establish precedence in these cases might be the step in the right direction towards that end!



32 comments:

Penguin & Fish said...

I had the same thing happen to a friend. It totally doesn't matter who's in the right. The only thing that really matters is who can outspend who. And if you win you don't get any of that money back. It's really sickening.

sMacThoughts said...

Oh I so agree, P&F. Unfair to us 'starving artists'. What a boring world this would be if big business could so easily (as we are seeing) come in and seize our art and sell it as if it were any old non-creative product. Just an 'item'. A source of income. Nothing more.

JUNKER JANE said...

Oh JEEZ, this so makes me mad and SAD....

sMacThoughts said...

Yes, Catherine, truly. I have seen, for example, 'dolls' made by other people which seem to be in the same vein as Junker Jane ones... no one can do your quality or 'feel/look' but imagine if some big company wanted to just say 'meeahh, we can do this. $5 a doll.' It *is* enough to make ya cry.

jim bradshaw said...

greed and laziness = noncreativity.

This stuff ticks me off. I remember pitching a line of cards to a pretty successful co. back in the 80s named Recycled Paper Products. They rejected my stuff. A year later I saw my cards with the exact wording using another artist. Big company won. Starving me didn't stand a chance. What goes around will come around.

sMacThoughts said...

*gasp* That is horrifying, Jim!! How awful that must have felt, and probably still.... sorry that happened to you.

Anonymous said...
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sMacThoughts said...

anonymous, you bore me.

Lenae May said...

Sooo believable!!! and pathetic! We were just discussing copyrights the other day.I try to have new ideas but I know it's all a matter of time before I start seeing what I would call mine under another label and wooa it be under a made in China label!
This story above however is so sad!
Lenae

sMacThoughts said...

I agree, Lenae, but hopefully the winds of change will bring this issue and the importance of protecting rights to the forefront in courts everywhere.

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Mallory @ MissMalaprop said...

How absolutely infuriating! I'm so glad that you posted about this though, I hadn't heard about it yet. I just re-posted to help spread the word so hopefully more people will be aware of the situation.

sMacThoughts said...

Fabulous, Mallory! I read about it, and thought, oh no, I"ve got to help. This could be me one day!

KingKong Suh said...

What a piece of shit Rick Wittrig is! May all his fake sculptures rust!

sMacThoughts said...

I do believe in karma and universal law, KKS, so we can (in my mind) let it do it's own thing without even wishing bad on others. Meanwhile, it *is* important to support those who suffer whenever we can. I have my sculpture now and it fills my home with great energy!

disa said...
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sMacThoughts said...

OK Disa, now I am pretty sure you are spam. So won't entertain your comments anymore. :)

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sMacThoughts said...

Silly, silly, oh so silly Anonymous. Keep trying. That's all you know how to do. :)

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