My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1178: Proceeding With Caution

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 11-30-2013 12:41 PM 1398 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1177: A Break Part 1178 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1179: Happy Birthday to My Son Phil »

The last several days have been a bit unnerving for me. In the end, it turns out it was quite a scam, but it was still something that took my attention and troubled me nonetheless.

As many of you know, I have been blogging here for over three years now. What began as a test and a forum for me to explain what I do a bit better to my customers, turned out to be a habit and a personal accounting which has brought me many wonderful friendships.

Looking back on my past blogs (they are all here on, I see that in the beginning posts, they were pretty much business. As time went on though and I had so many nice, encouraging thoughts, I felt as if I was here having coffee with my friends every morning and things became more ‘loose’. I began telling not only of business experiences, but of personal ones as well, as friends sometimes do.

My love of cats and sometimes odd sense of humor took precedent over discussions of woodworking and painting, and many times when I had little or nothing that was exciting to talk about, I dressed up my post with one or two of the thousands and thousands of silly cat pictures found here on the web, or ones I took myself.

These pictures weren’t to “sell” anything as those of you who read know. It was to bring a smile to your day and hopefully give you a light start to it in these sometimes hectic and troubling times. I am a firm believer that our attitude towards our lives strongly dictates the outcome. (“We follow where we focus” is one of my favorite sayings.) I can’t begin to tell you how many hundreds of emails and notes I receive from strangers who read this blog on a daily basis and say it is part of their morning routine. They also say how much they appreciate the smiles and joy it brings to them each morning and look forward to it. That is what really keeps me writing every day – even on the busy ones when I have a million things to do or not a lot of otherwise interesting information. If I can begin my day with bringing happiness to others – even a small amount – than I am already starting out feeling great.

The other day however, I received a notice from one of the “big” image sites. To make a very long and complicated story short – in it they accused me of using one of their images in one of my posts here almost a year ago. This was not a “legal notice”, however they were demanding a large sum of money from me to compensate them for my misuse and profiting from “their” photograph.

You can imagine my distress, as well as Keith’s. We had just had our best month ever on the site and things were beginning to roll in a good direction with our business and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel for all of our hard work and effort. It truly blindsided me.

I am always very careful about using my silly cat pictures, and even the non-silly ones. I try to find the proper attributes to the photographers, and whenever possible, I link back to their sites. I know on more than one occasion, as when I used prints that are for sale, that it has caused readers of my blog to go to their sites and make a purchase. The exposure that I give them is a good thing.

But apparently this company is in the habit of threatening ANYONE for ANY types of uses of some of these pictures. Even though they have not been given exclusive rights to them by the photographer (the picture in question is STILL available on a Flickr site for free download and doesn’t even OFFER you a way to pay for it) they have decided to send out thousands upon thousands of demand letters to people, in hopes that it would scare them into blindly paying.

Naturally, both Keith and myself were sick when we received this letter. After all, we weren’t making patterns from the photo and making money off of it. It still however shook us to the point of making a trip to our lawyer to see what he would advise.

We had dropped off the letter when Keith made the appointment and fortunately for us he had a time slot open the following day. Needless to say we didn’t get much sleep or work done. We spent the day trying to research and see what they were able to do. Of course we immediately removed the image from everything, but we were still concerned that they would seek further damages.

What we found was pretty sickening. It appears that this company sends these threatening letters to thousands of people a week, in hopes of scaring them into paying this “settlement” and avoid further harassment from them. This letter is not from the photographers or even from lawyers, but from the company itself. They rarely have taken further action – and when they did, it was only in a case where someone blatantly used images for advertising and made direct profits off the photos and failed to heed to the take down warnings, but instead they did continue to harass many people to pay the “settlement” even though it was not ordered by a court or any legal means. I am sure that many people DO pay because before we saw our lawyer, Keith and I were ready to pay ourselves.

Our advice from our lawyer was to ignore it. He told us it was a scam as much as those SPAM emails from overseas which tell you that someone left you several million dollars. He said that if we hear again from them, he will deal with it for us but for now he said to not think of it anymore, as it had no legal basis whatsoever and we shouldn’t worry about it anymore. We were very relieved.

We also talked to the people here at and they told us the same thing – it was a scam and we should disregard it. They had seen it so many times before they didn’t even need to read the letter.

While we felt much better about things, it really did make me think. While I am not profiting from the funny cat pictures that I offer here in the site to entertain you all, I do realize that there were times when I failed to give proper attribution on some of them and it concerns me. As a designer, I see my work all the time in the form of other people’s finished projects and while some DO give attribution to me as the designer, some do not. I would never think of approaching them though unless I saw them taking credit for the design as their own. And even then I would hope it would be a just a misunderstanding that could be straightened out easily. Unless they were blatantly selling my patterns.

For a brief moment, I considered stopping the blog here altogether. It does take a bit of time in my morning to write, and if I had to look over my shoulder about everything I posted and wrote, it wouldn’t be worth it to me.

But I did miss the people and friendships that I have developed through writing here. For many of you only communicate with me through this blog and it is a wonderful way for people to not only learn, but to have some fun. I also find that by trying to think of inspiring things to talk about with you each morning, I am also inspiring myself to do the best job I can. There are days when I have been discouraged about one thing or another, yet forcing myself to “act positive” in the morning here really helped me turn my own attitude around (WE FOLLOW WHERE WE FOCUS.) By the time I was done writing, I would feel a bit better and as the kind comments flowed in from all of you, it made me happy that I did write after all.

So I am not turning in my keyboard just yet.

I will however, proceed with caution and make sure that every picture that I post is in Public Domain or have a release of sorts so that I am SURE that I am in compliance. I want to be sure that all of those silly cat pictures that I show you are included within the guidelines of the photographer.

Public Domain

I will have to get a little “creative”. And perhaps I will even have to recruit my own cats into service.

Public Domain

But after all – creativity is something that I do best. It will just help me think in another direction and expand my abilities. And that is always a good thing.

In any case, it feels good to be back. I hope those of you in the USA had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Even though I am here in Canada, I had a full celebration dinner with my Canadian family. It was a wonderful day filled with good food, great company and love.

Have a happy and wonderfully creative Saturday.

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

15 comments so far

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3370 days

#1 posted 11-30-2013 01:02 PM

glad this got resolved sheila

i read your posts over coffee most mornings
and when i can post a comment
or even a cat picture too

i find them on the net too
i have learned that not all will go to my ‘photos’ cache
to be forwarded
(i’m guessing those have some ‘no copy’ thing in them)

even our woodworking ‘copy-right’ works don’t hold water it seems
unless we go thru a long legal process
big companies can pay for this privilege
but us artists can’t afford these services

we share with the world
but many want to be paid for ‘sharing’
even when it is not theirs to ‘own’

keep on trucking girl
we are in a storm of greed
from many

but don’t need to jump off any cliff
just because the ‘lemings’ do

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 3409 days

#2 posted 11-30-2013 01:05 PM

I have a bunch of cats, let me know what kind of pictures you want :)

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#3 posted 11-30-2013 01:14 PM

Aww – you are both just the reason I am here every morning! I was so depressed (and you KNOW I don’t get depressed!) because I felt as if a truck hit me. Part of the JOY I feel writing here is making people smile and sharing silliness. There is enough greed and tragedy in this world and I like to have a ‘safe’ place here to play and be kind and creative and funny. It isn’t as if I was selling cat food or running a pet store and used the images for financial gain. The thing is when you get a four page letter with a big company name on it demanding a huge “settlement” your blood runs cold. (At least it does if you have any sense of responsibility!)

I have taken a breath though and I am (almost) certain that this is the end of it. It is amazing how huge the forums are that address this issue. So many victims of this harassment! “I am NOT alone.”

Thank you for your kind encouragement. In the words of Monty Python -

“I ain’t dead yet!” (I hope that isn’t a copyrighted phrase! ;) )

xox Sheila

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

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3370 days

#4 posted 11-30-2013 01:28 PM

oh sheila

i forgot to tell you

some prince in nigeria is looking for you
seems he has some money for you

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#5 posted 11-30-2013 01:29 PM

LOL! Tell him to get in line! ;)


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

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2913 days

#6 posted 11-30-2013 02:16 PM

Shelia and Keith – I know that, perhaps, you know of our thoughts when we hear “I won’t be blogging for a while, I have some “issues” to attend to”. My mind, what little I have, was racing madly. What could this be, what is wrong, what is the issue. Many of the scams are going around these days. As I turned on my computer this morning I only get a grey screen. Somehow fixed that easy enough but unnerving.

As to my to cents on your blog. I do not always read every word. I do enjoy the pictures as we have a cat, also. Focus on your business is important but some side lights are good as well.

Very glad you are back and back to business. I missed you. Have a great weekend.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#7 posted 11-30-2013 02:21 PM

Thanks, Jerrell. I know I may have sounded “cryptic” when I signed off the other day, but I was really shaken and didn’t know WHAT to think. These bullies have a way of making you FEEL afraid – even if you KNOW they are wrong. They count on that. It was well worth the money spent at the lawyers, for peace of mind at least. Still it took a couple of days to get my bearings back. I would have hated to not be able to spruce up my blog with fun pictures. That is part of the fun I have in writing. But as you see, there are some wonderfully fun and creative pictures in the Public Domain that I can use.

“There is hope.”


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

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3172 days

#8 posted 11-30-2013 03:12 PM

Sheila, I, like jerrells, could only think of sickness or worse when I read your brief note the other day. I am glad it turned out to be a scam, and that you are looking through the windshield and not in the rearview mirror.

BTW, the latest one we’ve had here has been someone calling late at night (10:30PM – 2AM) saying they have found something wrong with our computer. Hmmmm, what exactly is that accent you have? And if something is wrong with the computer, why not send an e-mail?

Anyway, glad you are back. The cat pics are nice, but we like you better!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3114 days

#9 posted 11-30-2013 05:01 PM

Happy your problem is resolved, wish there was some way to get back at those bullies, but it is probably
best just to ignore them. We have two cats and appreciate your pictures. Hope you have a wonderful
holiday season.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View HerbC's profile


1764 posts in 2888 days

#10 posted 11-30-2013 05:10 PM


Welcome back to the world of blogging.

Don’t let anyone bully you into giving up this wonderful outlet for creative communication talents. And you certainly shouldn’t pay them anything in this case.

Keep up the good work. Your words have often brightened my day and warmed my heart. And although I’m not much of a cat person, the cat photo’s frequently jiggle my funny bone.

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2102 days

#11 posted 11-30-2013 05:30 PM

Good morning Sheila! Good to have you back and I’m glad that things worked out OK. Sharing this experience (and many other experiences) on your blog gives your readers a “heads up ” on what is out there that we have to be careful about. Bullies come in all sizes from all kinds of sources but really bullies are very insecure people in my opinion.

Glad you had a good Thanksgiving celebration. We have lots to be thankful for – even the bullies as they make us realize how strong we are! Go girl!

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 3002 days

#12 posted 11-30-2013 06:43 PM

Please don’t stop posting, can’t let the a-holes get the best of you.
It is sickening what lengths scum will go to to scam honest people. I am sure they think we are all suckers and deserve parting with hard earned money so they can make a fast easy buck. No morals at all.
On a leather site I frequent, some jerk is sending a similar letter to anyone making belts, holsters or guitar straps with shotgun shell concho on them (like a little button along the length of the belt) b/c of their ”patent” on that form of work. The poor guy posted just as you have here, distraught at having done something wrong, but confused as why everyone sells those concho buttons and the style of work is commonplace. A major supplier, Tandy, sells those conchos and advertises, with pictures, leather work with shotgun shell conchos on them.
So it was all BS and some lazy azz wants to make a fortune off of others’ stress…pure bullying tactics.
Your pics are always for fun and I know how honest a person you are in a very corrupt world.
Sorry to hear of your stress

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3749 days

#13 posted 11-30-2013 07:25 PM

Please don’t let doubt or fear mess with you. Keep on posting!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18293 posts in 3704 days

#14 posted 12-01-2013 03:44 AM

Glad you are back and unstressed. It isn’t only scammers that do that. Insurance companies fish for anyone they think can come up with the money to cover their insured’s loss. On second thought, maybe insurance companies are scammers ;-(

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#15 posted 12-01-2013 11:37 AM

The comments above are just an example of the many reasons why I like it here so much. I have also received many emails and personal messages from other who have been both kind and supportive. Thank you all so much.

I truly cherish the friendships that I have forged here through my blog and I am happy that I may have added something to your lives as well. It feels really good to be back! Thank you all!


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

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