purchasing icons, the good, the bad and the ugly

FenderTL5

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I went through page by page and found each infringement and reported them all. Etsy removed them. The next day I got an email from the owner of the shop apologizing in a way that makes it sound like he will be doing this again because he pays no attention to where an image comes from. This is what bothers me most in these instances. People seem to think that if they find an image online that they own it and can do whatever they want with it. I have been very blessed by God and am not in utter poverty, but I have experienced more difficult times, and still don't live in luxury. To take images and sell things with that image without regard even for the fact that someone worked to make that image is wrong because it really devalues the work of iconographers some of whom are making great sacrifices financially and personally to perform this ministry.
That sounds like one of the best arguments in favor of 'watermarking' images posted online that I've heard in a while.
 
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nutroll

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Unfortunately it is. I didn't want to watermark my images because I think it's tacky and I want people to be able to use them in those cases where someone can only afford to print something out and hang it in their icon corner. Now I am in the unfortunate situation of having to go back and watermark a huge catalog of my work. I have been painting icons for 26 years, and even without posting older images, I still have hundreds of images to watermark and re-upload. With a wife, three kids, commission work, and church it can be hard to carve out enough time to do such things.
 
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Anhelyna

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I've just heard of an Iconographer here in Scotland, having problems with her images being 'lifted' and sadly she is now also having to watermark photos of her work in an attempt to prevent this type of theft
 
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~Anastasia~

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Speaking of the ethics of such a thing ...

Do you see anything wrong with using images of older icons? I'm just curious. I'm guessing that is ok, since legitimate icon-selling companies do this. Does anyone know if there is any ownership, or royalties to be paid?

(That said, I had Wal-Mart take my photos of some ancient icons and throw them in the trash, refusing to let me have them, since they were "art" and not my own. They didn't accept that there was no copyright on centuries-old work.)
 
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nutroll

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Speaking of the ethics of such a thing ...

Do you see anything wrong with using images of older icons? I'm just curious. I'm guessing that is ok, since legitimate icon-selling companies do this. Does anyone know if there is any ownership, or royalties to be paid?

(That said, I had Wal-Mart take my photos of some ancient icons and throw them in the trash, refusing to let me have them, since they were "art" and not my own. They didn't accept that there was no copyright on centuries-old work.)
The issue on that would likely have more to do with any rights of the person who photographed the icon since the copyright doesn't survive indefinitely after the artist's death, and since icons are often the work of monks, there wouldn't even be an estate. Of course I once saw an icon of mine on Wikipedia with the note that it was in the Creative Commons because the artist had died more than fifty years ago, which was news to me and my family.

I don't think that kind of situation is what upsets people, but rather when someone collects images online and then has a printing company make up a bunch of junk so they can sell it for a profit. There are other ways to make money than stealing from others.
 
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~Anastasia~

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The issue on that would likely have more to do with any rights of the person who photographed the icon since the copyright doesn't survive indefinitely after the artist's death, and since icons are often the work of monks, there wouldn't even be an estate.

That makes sense, but in one particular case I told them (truthfully) that I had taken the photo, and that it was like I had taken a photo of the Mona Lisa, and it should be printed. They wouldn't accept that. At the same time, iirc, they also discarded some images of my own that I'd added text to.

I've had trouble before getting images (portraits) I have taken and edited myself, but I can usually convince them it's my own work. I'm not that great a photographer, but editing software does wonders. :)

Of course I once saw an icon of mine on Wikipedia with the note that it was in the Creative Commons because the artist had died more than fifty years ago, which was news to me and my family.

Wow, you could hope that was somewhere along the line an honest mistake. But wow. (I've read you say that before, but it's still a bit of a surprise.)

I don't think that kind of situation is what upsets people, but rather when someone collects images online and then has a printing company make up a bunch of junk so they can sell it for a profit. There are other ways to make money than stealing from others.

The Scottish Iconographer is finding her stuff on the same Etsy shop - same seller as you, nutroll, and Julia. She has also time and again reported him.

That's just so wrong. And the reports aren't doing anything? That's kind of surprising - there has been SUCH a crackdown online (at least some years ago) of copyright violations that I would think a company like Etsy would be concerned enough to do something.

Then again, I used to write and (sometimes) publish articles online as a business, and I would sometimes find my article, complete with photos, lifted and published elsewhere. It was rather frustrating for a while, because one particular person was following me and just copying a lot of my work. It got me temporarily blackballed for a while because they assumed I might be the one copying? I couldn't get it removed because the website was registered overseas. I did a "plant" of a line embedded in the text to discredit the website, they published it unchanged, and then I edited mine.

Sorry for rambling - I would just think Etsy would pay attention to such charges and do something about it. :(
 
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ikonographics

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The Scottish Iconographer is finding her stuff on the same Etsy shop - same seller as you, nutroll, and Julia. She has also time and again reported him.
Katherine Sanders? She is the one who discovered the problem and told me about it :-(
 
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ikonographics

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That's just so wrong. And the reports aren't doing anything? That's kind of surprising - there has been SUCH a crackdown online (at least some years ago) of copyright violations that I would think a company like Etsy would be concerned enough to do something.

Then again, I used to write and (sometimes) publish articles online as a business, and I would sometimes find my article, complete with photos, lifted and published elsewhere. It was rather frustrating for a while, because one particular person was following me and just copying a lot of my work. It got me temporarily blackballed for a while because they assumed I might be the one copying? I couldn't get it removed because the website was registered overseas. I did a "plant" of a line embedded in the text to discredit the website, they published it unchanged, and then I edited mine.

Sorry for rambling - I would just think Etsy would pay attention to such charges and do something about it. :(

Etsy aren't concerned at all and that is the most worrying thing about it. You'd think when a seller has had so many items reported they'd shut him down, but now. They basically tell us to deal with the seller and then if he removes the item, they say, "Oh look, you've solved the problem! There is nothing we can do!"
 
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~Anastasia~

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The most annoying thing was that the seller sent Katherine and me friend requests on Facebook!
Oh WOW!

And I'm sure you've had conversations with this person?

I wouldn't even know who to approach but I do know US law clamped down so tightly on copyright infringement that involves the internet. I'm not looking to have Etsy shut down (though their behavior is deplorable, and a little shock that motivated them to be more proactive (or at least reactive to complaint) could be good.

But I'm thinking there are very large official channels that could be used? It has had a profound effect on such giants as YouTube, down to most medium-sized online presences. This should not be something you have to deal with on your own - not with a US artist, a US seller, using a US company, at least (and I also know some though not all foreign countries are included).

I wish I could help more. Have you looked into it through larger channels?
 
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~Anastasia~

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It's good to be made aware of these.

I have only very rarely bought icons commercially. But I tend to wish for a particular image (there is still one of the Theotokos and Christ that I really want, and have in a printed photo form). And finding someone who sells it probably mostly means they are accessing images from all over - which I am starting to see means stolen images, it seems. Not good to have something so central to the practice of our faith - be stolen.
 
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GoingByzantine

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It's good to be made aware of these.

I have only very rarely bought icons commercially. But I tend to wish for a particular image (there is still one of the Theotokos and Christ that I really want, and have in a printed photo form). And finding someone who sells it probably mostly means they are accessing images from all over - which I am starting to see means stolen images, it seems. Not good to have something so central to the practice of our faith - be stolen.

I am pleased to learn that I am not alone, there are some very obscure saints that I would like to have an icon of, and it is difficult to find reputable iconographers selling their own prints nowadays, not another persons. Once I emailed a certain "reputable" website and asked if they had any icons of Saint Nilus the Younger, they replied that they did not have any, but they said that if I found one, I could send it to them and they would make me a custom icon print. Needless, to say, I never emailed them back since that seemed super unethical...:sigh:

Nowadays, I try to buy icons or prints directly from the iconographer who wrote it, or I "rescue" icons from garage sales and thrift stores. This way I am not perpetuating the exploitation of our saints, by purchasing "stolen" icons. Although I try not to judge others, since I am a lowly sinner myself, I believe that these merchants are acting similarly to the merchants that were cleansed from the temple by our Lord.
 
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~Anastasia~

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I am pleased to learn that I am not alone, there are some very obscure saints that I would like to have an icon of, and it is difficult to find reputable iconographers selling their own prints nowadays, not another persons. Once I emailed a certain "reputable" website and asked if they had any icons of Saint Nilus the Younger, they replied that they did not have any, but they said that if I found one, I could send it to them and they would make me a custom icon print. Needless, to say, I never emailed them back since that seemed super unethical...:sigh:

Nowadays, I try to buy icons or prints directly from the iconographer who wrote it, or I "rescue" icons from garage sales and thrift stores. This way I am not perpetuating the exploitation of our saints, by purchasing "stolen" icons. Although I try not to judge others, since I am a lowly sinner myself, I believe that these merchants are acting similarly to the merchants that were cleansed from the temple by our Lord.

I know, it's difficult, isn't it?

The only good thing I can say is that a couple of the icons I really wanted are very, very old ones, and so I guess there is no longer anyone receiving any money for them. I have two of them now - the Hagia Sophia Christ, and the Resurrection from the walls of a Church I can't bring to mind the name of. The other is a very particular icon of the Theotokos and Christ, and I'm not sure the age of it, but I'd really like that very exact one.

I wish I could find icons at thrift stores and such, but no one around here donates them apparently. Which too is good - I'm guessing folks then are more aware and respectful. Or else there are far fewer Orthodox here. ;) I once saw a non-standard very western-looking almost-icon of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic thrift store, but they were treating it well and asking high dollar for it.
 
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