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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #30: Stolen Patterns - Seriously Sad

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-03-2010 01:46 PM 5210 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 29: Subliminal Meanings in Scrollsawing Part 30 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 31: Scamming the scammers »

It’s times like these when I kind of get discouraged. It seems like there are times when no matter how hard you work and what you do, it just doesn’t pay off. With the economy so tough, I am certain that hobbies such as scroll sawing and wood working are not high priorities on most people’s lists. I believe I have talked about this before, as I realize that it is an ongoing thing and that people are going to do what they can to survive. I don’t really feel that things will be booming again until people regain the confidence in their own jobs and the economy and that doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon, if ever. There are days when I wonder if I will be able to hold on to this job or if I, too will fall to the economy.

I realize that I am one of the last of the hard core scroll saw designers that is still in business. There used to be about 20 main people/companies when I first came aboard. These people were the pillars of the industry, and their designs were all wonderful. But over the years, one by one they seemed to have slipped away. There are only a handful of us left who have been around a long time and of that group, not one is what I could call ‘flourishing’. Some are doing better than others, but others still are privately contemplating if they are going to be able to make it through another year and wonder if it is even worth it.

It isn’t because their designs aren’t any good anymore. Lately I have seen some of the most innovative and attractive designs imaginable coming from their companies. I think it is a multitude of factors that adds to the already sluggish business. Of course the economy is the number one factor, I believe. People watch every cent that they spend and rightfully so. Just because there is a little extra today, doesn’t mean there will be the certainty of having it tomorrow.

The internet is also a double-sided sword for designers. Most of us can’t survive without it (I know I can’t) but in the business of selling patterns, it is an easy target for piracy and theft. Stevenmarin just did a piece on someone who was selling thousands of plans for a mere $49 or something like that on one DVD. Presumably most of these plans are unauthorized, incomplete and stolen. I applaud his efforts to try to put a stop to it but from previous and present experience, I realize that it is nearly impossible. I will do what I can to help, however.

Ironically, it was brought to my attention yesterday that (another) one of my patterns was stolen and placed on a site and was being given away for FREE. This was on another woodworking forum that I belong to (Yes, the person had the GALL to give away my pattern on a site that I was a somewhat active member of -AND it is the only place that I have a banner advertising my own site on the top of the page of the site!) This is a site that is dedicated strictly to scroll sawing. It has over 3000 members and many people on it trade ‘free’ patterns, which are supposed to be their own designs.

When I saw the pattern up there, it literally made me sick to my stomach. It was the exact deer head that I did in a plaque, but only the frame was different. My original pattern was done in a leaf shape and from a series of wildlife leaf plaques that has sold very well over the years, and the frame he changed it to was a flower shape which one of my competitors had sold. So he took the inside picture from my drawing and the frame from someone else and called it his “design”. (Oh, and he did mirror it, so I guess he thought that made it OK!).

I do my drawings in vector which means you get clean, smooth lines and on the final patterns they are .5 pts. thick which is about as thick as the this———line. This guy obviously took a JPEG of the patterns and copied them because you could see the pixels and they were thick, jagged lines. I wouldn’t have been able to cut them properly and no decent scroll sawyer would. But all it did to me was cheapen my work and put a bad taste in peoples mouth who did recognize the pattern as my own. What if they though that I drew the patterns like that?

I guess one of the worst parts was that the pattern was posted in MARCH, so it had been in that forum of 3000 free for the taking for months. It makes me very sad.

For those of you who read regularly, you see my days are pretty full. Besides this forum and Steve Good’s forum (which was not the one it was on) I do go to the other from time to time, but I just don’t have the TIME to look at everything. That forum consists of mostly portrait style scroll saw patterns where people take pictures and photos and turn them to ‘scroll saw patterns’ using Photoshop or other computer programs. Although a very few hand draw them to make them work and look beautiful, most people just adjust the color and contrast and make them through the computer. I have never done this type of ‘designing’ because although I have seen a few beautiful examples of how it works when done properly, it has been bastardized to the extent of most of the stuff on the market is crap and I think ‘uncuttable’ (I think I made up that word, but you get the jest). I am not trying to slag the people who do nice work and take the time to make things works right and test them, but to me it is a further blow to scroll sawing in general when people try to make these untested designs and are inevitably unsuccessful. Again – it just puts a bad taste in their mouths for scroll sawing. My partner has tried to do a couple of these types of designs, but he painstakingly draws them by hand and cut both designs he has tried so far to insure their success. There is a gentleman I know personally, Mike Williams, who has also been published in the magazine I work for who takes literally MONTHS to perfect and cut a design. It can be done right. But it seems that anyone with a ‘contrast’ button and a computer can now call himself/herself a designer and ‘artist’. (Sigh!)

So I immediately contacted the culprit via email, including a picture from my own pattern he copied (he is in the Netherlands, by the way) and also sent a copy of the message and complaint to the moderator/owner of the site. I received a near-immediate apology from the moderator and he told me he removed the post. He also apologized profusely although I have no blame at all toward him. There is no way he can police and research each pattern that is posted on that site. At some point, people have to be responsible for themselves and their own actions. I truly appreciated his support however and I did thank him for his efforts.

However, the damage had been done. I find myself pretty deflated and the rest of the day it was very difficult to motivate myself to do anything. For those of you who have come to ‘know’ me in the past month, you know that usually isn’t an issue with me. Business has been slow, as most other woodworkers can attest to. I work just about every single day and I have some of my best ideas in the works. The well still isn’t drying up, and even just joining this site has inspired many more new ideas and plans. I realize that it is summer and it is typically our slowest season, but I can’t help but wonder why I keep hanging in here. For the moment I have no choice, I guess. I live in a remote area and jobs here are scarce. They stopped the ferry from Yarmouth to Maine this summer which was another blow to the already precarious economy here in my area. I have to realistically consider moving back to a larger city and seeing what kind of job I could get there. It would be a really difficult decision to make, as I love it here so much, but I won’t know what else to do.

I guess the incident I just told you about was just another nail in the coffin. I am a fighter though and as one of the last of the long-term designers left standing, for me anyway the war isn’t over yet. (Although some days I feel like the knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail hopping around on one leg and saying “Come, on, Come on, I’ll fight you…...I ain’t dead yet. I may feel like it, but I’m not.”) I guess I just need my time to feel crummy for a bit and then regroup and come back fighting again. I feel that I offer designs for people who want more than Photoshopped crap or patterns stolen from others. If I keep on my own path and do the right thing, things will be ok.

Besides . . . . Right always wins over wrong. Doesn’t it? (It does on the pink cloud, anyway)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



14 comments so far

View BigTiny's profile

BigTiny

1664 posts in 1642 days


#1 posted 07-03-2010 03:44 PM

Hi Sheila.

While my own scroll saw is used exclusively for marquetry piece cutting, I sympathise with your plight. Like the printed word and music, patterns are being pirated left right and sideways on the web. I actually got into a rather heated discussion on one site with an individual who was brazen enough to ask in an open forum for the loan of copywrited programs to copy! He saw nothing wrong with his actions, as (in his words) “if they didn’t charge so much I’d buy them, but since they do, I’d rather save my money and copy them!” He honestly didn’t consider his actions as theft! When I told him that I was an ex cop and thought he was a common theaf, he got irate!
It’s a sad commentary on our times and the lack of honesty on this media that we have all come to love, and hate.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4448 posts in 1790 days


#2 posted 07-03-2010 03:51 PM

Sheila

I’ve only ever been in this situation rarely (I don’t consider myself an artist) and my living doesn’t depend on it but I completely understand the feelings associated with it. At the end of the day, apart from litigation, all you can do (as in the words of the old song) is ‘Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again’. As I mentioned in Steve’s recent post apart from ‘watermarking’ pictures (and I’m not sure this is possible with vector graphics stuff) and thus making it as hard for scammers as possible is the only thing I can think of.

Please don’t let one idiot discourage you. You and your work are better than that.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View BigTiny's profile

BigTiny

1664 posts in 1642 days


#3 posted 07-03-2010 04:03 PM

Photobucket

Hi again.

Just to show there ARE folks who DO cut their own designs, this magnificent piece was one I found while browsing the web. Note the car in the background for a sense of scale.
This thing makes my head ache just TRYING to imagine the time and effort involved!
Works like this (it’s a scale model of an actual cathedral) elevate our avocation from craft to art!

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

373 posts in 2777 days


#4 posted 07-03-2010 04:21 PM

Theft of design/intellectual property is as bad as someone breaking into your home and stealing personal property. I still wonder constantly why some normally honest people seem to think there is nothing wrong with taking someone else’s plans without paying. To resell or represent them as their own is a capital offense in my opinion.

That said in these hard times it is unforgivable. I would encourage everyone who scrolls to visit this members site and purchase a design as a show of support for our members. Further if you see a pattern anywhere on the net you know belongs to someone else, speak up, it’s the right thing to do.

Ken

-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View CoolDavion's profile

CoolDavion

395 posts in 2578 days


#5 posted 07-03-2010 04:37 PM

The moderator did the right thing by taking down the post.

Your designs are very beautiful, and you are right in fighting for them.

If you want a little free advise, since you spend so much time on your patterns, and are marketing them on your web site, you can do a little bit of work to maintain your site.

One thing to do is to know how much traffic you site is getting and what those visitors are viewing. One way to do this is to use google analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/ it is free, and is a little bit of code that you place on every page of your site.

Second is to utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to “tune” your site/pages so that they show on the first page of searches. For example if I search for wildlife scroll saw patterns, your site shows on the third page of google, most people have short attention spans and will not go past the first or second page.
There are several SEO site that will offer suggestions on tuning your SEO.

Like I said this is free advise and you can take it or leave it, you will not offend me.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1868 days


#6 posted 07-03-2010 04:49 PM

Big Tiny
I know there has been a tremendus work behind that cathedral
but you can´t say it´s his own design :—) after all there was an arcitect behind the original :—)

Sheila
I realy feel for all that get there design stolen and we have to do what we can to stop them
but it also has been a normal thing to do the last centuri all over the world
just look at one thing , all the copys that there is sold as original designer furniture

head up my girl and come again don´t let you be knocked out becourse of such an A…..

best thoughts
Dennis

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

373 posts in 2777 days


#7 posted 07-03-2010 04:51 PM

Your designs are beautiful. I purchased the set of animals to store your glasses. All my grandkids wear glasses and they are getting a place to safely store them. Keep up the designing, I’ll be watching your site for updates.

Ken

-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1673 days


#8 posted 07-03-2010 05:16 PM

I just want to thank you all for your support. I know I get personal here – sometimes maybe too personal, but it is difficult when I see such talented people get ripped off. Stevemairn’s story had gotten to me for obvious reasons, and then what happened yesterday was like icing on the cake.

We were in Wal-Mart yesterday and my partner pointed out one of the kitchen sideboard cupboards that was on display. $189.00. Absolute, end to end crap. Doors didn’t line up, the backboard cheap cardboard was ripply, the wood-tone/grained stickers were already peeling off and all over, it looked like garbage. Yet there is sat – proudly displayed. “There’s our competition” he said to me. (We have hopes of later having our own shop and doing some nice furniture). Unfortunately he is probably right. We read stories here all the time written by talented, educated people that have to compete against this kind of crap every day. Craftsmen are forced out of business and working unskilled labour jobs. You get your days where you are thinking ‘What’s wrong with the world?’

Most days aren’t like that, but it is a sad reality. It is places like LJ’s here that we find the encouragement and support to be different and follow our goals and dreams. In the short time I have been here, I feel I have made some real friends and I have been inspired by so many of you. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. I am really kind of choked up while writing this. You have all been wonderful. I am so glad I am here.

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View MrsN's profile

MrsN

943 posts in 2279 days


#9 posted 07-03-2010 06:18 PM

It is really too bad that your patterns were stolen like that. Your work is really good, and it is a shame that someone thinks they can take it and call it their own.

-- ----- www.KNWoodworking.com ----- --

View BOB67CAM's profile

BOB67CAM

269 posts in 1825 days


#10 posted 07-03-2010 06:56 PM

i felt like chiming in here because i can understand a bit of yer discomfort
i have a buddy that started a trash removal business with trailers and shortly thereafter his brother would borrow his trailers doing the same thing and bothe advertising in the same places, and goving no money to his bro who paid for the trailers and truck and any other of his investments, to me thats worse then what your dealing with and ill throw out why.
thicnk about it this way we are in a recession/downturn economically, whatever u want to call it, whioch obviously means less people spending money on much more then the essentials, unfortunately u cant really scroll out very god toilet paper..lol however think about how many people will buy from say harbor freight, they know theyre getting crap for the most part, unless u run into a few of the deniers who will think they are just using the tool wrong or something, but most people will buy HF crap in a pinch hoping to get the 1 or 2 times of use of it, but then when they have money again they will goto sears or even grizzly or powermatic
my point i guess is that they may buy the crap that the other ”$W#$^” sells but plain and simple, its crap, they wont be happy with it, and the newbie scrollers will either figure out they they can or cant do scrolling, but if they can they will be looking for the best plans they can get, not the crap hes selling
right now theres alot of out of work people tryong to find some time killers, but they also cant blow any money, so they will go cheap
last winter i dug out my guitar and decided to go for the ebay special on guitar tabs and they were total crap!, so i started buying the books after that
if u can make it thru this bad time u should be golden ;)

-- if you dont have it, build it, especially when its a stupid idea

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4448 posts in 1790 days


#11 posted 07-03-2010 07:07 PM

We’re glad you’re here too.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View Div's profile

Div

1653 posts in 1694 days


#12 posted 07-03-2010 08:34 PM

Hey Sheila, you are not alone. A lot of us share this fight! Hang in there, girl!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Steve Good's profile

Steve Good

78 posts in 2708 days


#13 posted 07-03-2010 10:35 PM

Hi Sheila, I recently found all my patterns and videos available for sale on dvd in China. The problem for me is a little different because I make my money from ad sales and donations. It does cause me to lose control of my property and present me in a different way than I want. There really is not much we can do except educate our customers about the issue. The only positive I can say about this is that the internet will cause our niche hobby to grow over time. More people will move from casual interest to serious hobbyist. In the long run high quality patterns like yours will be in demand. The more you keep your face out there on the web the more scrollers will find you and not the pirates. Posting on places like Lumberjocks is the way to be found. You know you are always welcome on my blog any day. I hope you don’t have to make the decision to give up. Hang in there.

-- Steve Good, http://scrollsawworkshop.blogspot.com

View BigTiny's profile

BigTiny

1664 posts in 1642 days


#14 posted 07-05-2010 03:05 AM

A famous man once said:

“I would rather explain price once than appologize for qualty for ever!”

Good words then, good words now. In the long run, quality will prevail. Hang in there…

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

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