This isn't the blog I intended for this week. In fact, I was never really going to go into details on this incident from last year, but it's happened again...to someone else. I'm just a little sick and angry about this, especially during the holidays.
Stores worry about theft of property, particularly this time of year. Five fingered discounts happen despite security folks and equipment. Merchandise walks. It's wrong – obviously – but there is insurance coverage available and a means to be made whole again. However, there is a different kind of theft from which there is usually no means of redress for the “little guy”. It's called theft of intellectual property.
Over a year ago, while at an Expo, I was approached by a reporter from Weird NJ. She was interested in my books, but especially Graven Images Oracle, the oracle deck created by Natalie Zaman and yours truly.
In the course of our discussion, I was asked what other projects I had going. I mentioned a few, including a story I was researching on the odd life and death of a local University dean. I had even mentioned a little known book written about this individual.
I am a ninny. I believe in integrity and honor among journalists. I got schooled. The next issue of Weird NJ had nary a hint regarding GIO or the Expo, but there was a full story about the life and death of discussed dean. It was ironic that the writer mentioned there was a book on the subject, but that she did not have access to it. (I guess I was suppose to hand over my research as well as my article!)
I have always said that the Gods didn't give me a pretty face or a hot body. My gifts were wit, intellect and creativity, and I cherish them. Robbing one of my ideas is like kidnapping a baby. Yet, I could do nothing. It would be a typical “she said vs. she said”. I had to walk away, lesson learned. I will, eventually, write my article because I had an entirely different slant on the subject (as well as research!), but I am a less trusting, more jaded individual for the experience.
Now, there is no secret when it comes to my love of all things Sherlock. I read several blogs religiously and, in one, I came across a story of another case of intellectual property theft. I'm going to borrow the words directly from the blog:
Well, how’s this for some holiday suck. One of my most popular items, my 221B key, has been copied exactly (albeit cheaply) by some overseas wholesalers. Yay me. This is no coincidence, the items are PRECISE replicas of two of my most popular keys:My original 221B key design, which I’ve been selling for over a year now:
The replica key, being sold by over a dozen other sellers on Etsy now, let alone Ebay and other outlets:
NOT a coincidence, I think. From the scroll work to the dots at the top of the keyhole, this is an EXACT replica of my design. Even the part of the key meant to turn the lock is the same. It’s facing in a different direction, but that is the ONLY difference between these mass produced keys and my own personal design. Well, that and these versions are significantly cheaper, both in construction and for purchase. And of course they’re cheaper to buy! My keys are hand-embellished by me with transparencies and UV reactive resin one at a time. I can’t compete with mass manufacturing. As of now, at least six or seven other Etsy shops are now selling these cheaper versions of my keys, and for less money than my original designs. To say that this is going to directly impact by business and my sales is an understatement.To say I’m devastated by the whole thing is an understatement too.
And as if that wasn’t enough… Oh wait, there’s more. These overseas wholesalers weren’t content to steal just one design, oh no. They had to go for my top TWO keys.Again, my original design:
The new, cheaply made copies:
There’s only one or two sellers of this version of the key but seeing as you can go on any one of several wholesaler websites and buy them for under $2.00 a pop there’s going to be a lot more in the future. And not just on Etsy, on Artfire and Ebay and all sorts of places that my business doesn’t have a presence in and therefore can’t possibly compete with a corporation.
I just. I don’t even know what to do. To say that I’m massively depressed about this is an understatement. This business is my whole life, and my only source of income especially now that I can’t return to work thanks to some crippling back issues. I was SO PROUD of these designs, and their success, which is INTEGRAL to my shop. It kind of makes me want to just pack up everything and take it all down. My etsy store, my con business, everything. I mean, if everything I do that becomes even remotely successful (I’ve sold barely over a hundred of the first style of key… that’s a lot for one person but not indicative of massive overwhelming viral Internet success you know?) is just going to get stolen and cheaply copied cheaply what the f**k is the point of any of it? All I’m doing at this point is just providing mass producers with more ideas to steal. I’m not going to be able to make a living doing this if every time something gets popular it just becomes another thing for big businesses to steal. And because they’re overseas and I’m one person and ACD stuff is public domain anyway it’s not like there’s anything I can do about it except rant here.
I guess the only thing I personally can do at this point is to appeal to the Sherlock fandom and community. You guys have been great, so wonderful, so supportive over this past year, and I hate to ask for anything more than the wonderful amount of business you’ve already provided me with, but I could really use the help. Please, please spread this post to raise awareness of my predicament? I get that it won’t stop people from buying the knockoff keys or the knockoff keys from being made; but if you are considering buying one of these please, please don’t. And please let your friends know. Sales this time of year are CRITICAL for making sure that my business makes money, and for this to be hitting now…. well every person I get to reconsider buying one of the cheaper keys and going with my original design is a huge help to me at this point.Thank you.
P.S. Please don’t harass any Etsy sellers that are selling these keys. They probably don’t even know the design was stolen; they probably just bought the things from wholesalers and thought it was all on the up and up. Of all the people at fault here, the other Etsy shops carrying these items are NOT the bad guys. So please don’t make their lives hard. They’re also just fandom folks trying to make a living, and I respect that. But if you are a fandom person using this key in any of your designs please reconsider selling it for all the reasons listed above such as theft of my original design? Thank you very much.
Visit us on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MazikeenStudios
I went on Mazi's Etsy shop, and I bought a key. It was partly support, but mostly because I found it to be well made and lovely. Know what else I found? Some really cool, handmade items...Super/Wholock, Sherlock, Dr. Who, Supernatural..she does it all. There is a Simply Sherlock bracelet that just may end up being my “after Yule, it's my turn” gift to myself!
I know a number of you folks reading my blog are also writers and artists, and involved in various fandoms. You know how this feels. Let's give this fellow artist and Sherlockian a little support! Good luck, Mazi! Looking forward to my key.
I got an early Yule gift myself: My article was accepted by Circle Magazine and will appear in the coming issue. Well, jingle me!
For the rest of you, another little Yule treat...Smaug being interviewed on the Colbert Report!
..and Martin Freeman playing reindeer games with Jimmy Fallon:
Happy Yule, everyone!
I am Fire! I am Death! I am Santa.. NO! Wait! I mean Satan! I am Satan! I am...ah crap....