T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just found a site that has blatantly ripped five of our designs, not to mention designs from Busted Tees and several other people who are members of this forum as well as many shirts featured on tshirtcountdown.com. They are a Cafe Press site. Also found some clowns on ebay doing the same thing.

Has anyone else experienced this? I have already sent cease and desist letters from our lawyers to the sites as well as to the legal departments of Cafe Press and Ebay.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Cease and desist letters to the relevant parties sounds exactly like what you should do to me, so sounds like you already know what to do and how to do it. You could also privately e-mail other affected parties to let them know what is happening if you wanted (i.e. "This guy is ripping off people's designs, I sent a C&D, you may want to too."), but that's entirely up to you.

I've had people rip-off my auctions on eBay before, and in those cases I just reported it to eBay directly - I didn't need to send a cease and desist letter, just complain as the copyright holder (cheaper and quicker than paying a lawyer). I also reported other people's copyright theft, but they refused do to anything about that since I wasn't the copyright holder (interesting move for them though - since I made them aware of the fact that they were publishing illegal content it seems like they're now an accomplice if they refuse to do anything about it).

In other words though, eBay will remove any material that infringes on your own copyright if you ask them to - but they won't do anything else. They rarely, if ever, punish someone for copyright theft, so they're free to do it again really.

I'm not a lawyer, but I imagine you could sue for damages. The problem is, as you well know, that's just not worth the money. You could do it for the satisfaction of seeing someone suffer the consequences of their actions, but five other people will stand up to take their place.

Basically getting ripped off like that is one of the (considerable) annoyances of running a business. Being on top of it and sending a cease and desist letter is about all I know of that can be done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
That's outrageous! I keep coming across websites that are blatantly stealing from major sites - one that even had the balls to jsut copy a thumbnail from bustedtees onto their shirt (it was like 1/8 the size - looked so stupid).

Cease and desist letter sounds like the right way to go. If they have a phone number listed, call it and tell them you're onto them. Most of these sites are just stupid kids thinking they can get away with it.

How did you find the rogue site?

Let us know how this turns out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We googled our own unique shirt titles to see what came up. And there they were.

These guys just did bad versions of our shirts, along with dozens of other shirts on tshirtcountdown.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,690 Posts
You can also email cafepress and they will remove the store.

I've worked with CafePress pretty closely and they are very good at handling this stuff. Once you show where the infringement is happening, they will remove the store or at the very least, remove the offending images from the cafepress store.

Also, if this particular infringing site is actually listed at t-shirtcountdown.com, you can email t-shirtcountdown and it will be removed.

Here's a good website for checking to see if your content has been copied...it's startling what you find sometimes: http://www.copyscape.com/

It sounds like you are already taking the right steps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We sent a cease and desist and Cafe Press removed our designs. To get money would mean filing a lawsuit in their state and paying lawyers, etc. If the designs were not removed, we would probably would have sued out of principal in order to protect our copyrights. I think it's critical that you have a track record of at least trying to protect your intellectual property, whether or not you have the resources to sue someone.

You never know if your shirt will be the next mega hit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,029 Posts
I emailed this guy, end he refuses to remove my shirt, saying that is not protected by copyright. I have emailed ebay now, and am waiting to hear from them. I am pissed as hell at this guy. If I have to sue him, I will out of principle.

If ebay doesnt remove it, I think ill put up about 50 buy it nows for this t-shirt at a rediculious price, to put him out of business with this shirt at least.

My shirt is at least a small 'mega hit'. I get 200-300 views on it every auction on ebay I put up, and almost always sell it.

Do you think my shirt is protected by copyright laws? My interpertations of the laws is that it IS. The shirt with the graphics, and everything the way they are was my original idea, although the phrase has been used before, but not on a t-shirt. The guy copied everything, including the description directly off of my auction.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
249 Posts
Twinge said:
That is basically the problem; it is your copyright, but can you PROOVE it?
A slogan/design is not copyright protected unless it's been filed. If it is indeed copyright protected then there would be no problem proving that you hold a copyright on said slogan/design.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Hindsight is just that, hindsight. If you want to be in business, it is important to act responsibly and protect yourself and your designs. After all, it's all about making and keeping the money. My advice is to never be foolish when it comes to spending a bit of extra money upfront to protect yourself. It can save you a bundle in the long run. Whether it's a few hundred extra or a thousand or more, it is the smart and professional thing to do. I have learned this the hard way. Particularly if you believe you have unique designs that will appeal to a large segment of the population. Believe me, there will always be people out to screw you, so don't be foolish and screw yourself by looking to save a bit of money up front. Business is like sex, you need protection...in this case a copyright!
notyetdone
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
249 Posts
jdr8271 said:
This is the shirt: http://radicalrags.com/pro_choice.html

Jay, technically you cant even file for a copyright if you are not the intellectual owner of the design. Applying for a copyright is a formality. Although you are right that there would be no problem if I had officially registered the copyright.
That's simply not true. Say "guy 1" comes up with an idea for a design. He goes through the trouble of laying the great idea out and proudly prints it on a few shirts... but he never copyrights it nor does he make any effort towards documenting the date that the design was concepted and or created :( . Bad, verry verry bad. So "guy 2" comes along and sees the design on a site or displayed across someones chest and he decides to do a little research. Low and behold he finds that the design he is smitten with is not copyright protected. Sooooo, he copyrights it himself. Sure this is low down and dirty, but technically he owns the rights to the design even though it's not his intellectual property. No matter what "guy 1" does to prove it's actually his, because "guy 2" owns the copyright "guy 1" is SOL. True story.

p.s. The pro choice slogan depicted on Radical Rags is about as old as the whole abortion debate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
249 Posts
SpacemanFL said:
Instead of paying to copyright everything how about just making a list and have that notarized.
that is a good idea... take it a step further... have it notarized and mail it to yourself. Leave it sealed. This is called a "poor mans" copyright. I learned about it in an entertainment law class.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Jay, I dont think you have it quite right. Registering your designs may help you if someone rips your shirt, but not registering does not void your ownership as the creator.

Check out this chunk of text from copyright.gov:

"Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright."

Your illistration of Guy2 having the legal copyright because he registered it is simply false. Registration is optional:

"The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration."

and

"In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration."

This page has most of the good info: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html

It also outlines the process for registering your copywrited work and has all the forms. Costs $30 I think

Also, jdr8271 is correct when he says only the owner can file for the design: "Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright."

When it comes down to it, the only way to stop someone from using your designs is through a private lawsuit, and if it goes that far you will need to demonstrate that you created the work and this guy is infringing. A copyright registration may help, but it alone is not proof.

Martin
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top