Thursday, November 3, 2011

What are the odds?!

 I just had the weirdest thing happen recently. The odds of me finding this have to be incredibly small. It was one of those jaw-dropping moments...quite literally my jaw dropped LOL! Guess you want to know what it was eh? :)

On a typical Saturday morning I'll sleep in a bit, stumble out to the coffee maker and get that thang going and then settle down at my desk to check emails, surf the web and sometimes I will play a PC game. This particular morning I decided to play a hidden object game. I like the ones with pretty graphics and not too many puzzles or riddles to solve. Hey...I'm just waking up, I don't want to have to think! 
Anyhoo, I went to Big Fish Games where you can download a game to try for free. While the game was loading I grabbed my cuppa Joe and settled back down. I was in the second room in this seek and find game, which they called the 'Treasure Room', and my eyes were scanning the room for the first object when it struck me that there was something familiar. I looked closer and it was the image of one of my vases! (this is where my jaw dropped).  I was stunned. It was a very surreal experience and it was the last thing I ever expected. 
Here is the image they used
Here is a link to a larger image of it in my gallery on deviantART 
I really had a hard time believing it for a moment. I had no idea that game developers troll the web for images to steal and use in their games. I am very naive I guess. 
Upon further inspection I realize that there is also a much larger image of the same vase in the bottom right corner of the same scene. I began to get mad. Sick to my stomach really. 
I know there are art thieves that think nothing of using other artists' images for their own profit. Last year I stumbled upon a person trying to sell images of one of my paintings. I really thought that, since most of my art is 3-dimensional that someone would actually have to make it to re-sell or use it for their profit. In other words I always felt safe and secure.
Not anymore.
I really do not want to start plastering a watermark across my photos. It really spoils the image and, from what I hear with today's technology, that is a very easy thing to remove.
I decided to write a letter to Big Fish Games. I knew that they were not the developers but I hoped they could help me get in touch with them. I contacted Big Fish one other time about a different issue and I was really impressed with their customer service. It is truly outstanding!
Someone responded two days later asking for more information and assured me that they would do everything they could. I then receive an email from their legal department and she gave me the name of the developer and his contact information. 
I am trying to decide what I want them to do. Remove the images? Some type of compensation? My name in the credits? Realistically what can I expect?

This is where I am now. 

Anyone have any advice or wisdom on such a thing?


Caseymini said...

Chris, Maybe the first thing you should do is check the developer's other games. If they had the nerve to steal one from you, I wouldn't be surprised if they took others too. This is an interesting situation.

I don't seem to find any kind of a copyright notice on your blog. I put one at the bottom of mine to protect myself in cases like this. When I first started the blog someone told me to do this.

It seems to work. I have only had one incident of someone grabbing a photo. I wrote to them, nicely. Luckily they admited to not looking at the notice and imediately took the photo off of there site. Good luck on getting whatever result you decide upon.

lunaria said...

great story! Good luck!

Its All About Creating said...

I had a couple of incidents; both resolved by correspondence. Since then, I sign my photos. What I learned was pirates don't like to remove your name, edit a photo or mess with a watermark. I know one artist who discreetly hides her name in her photos. I know some blog publishers cringe at the sight of an artist's name on their photos. But in today's internet world (which is moving at the speed of light), you either mark it or risk losing it.

Anonymous said...

What would you have expected if they had approached you nicely from the beginning? Secondly have they actually taken customers away from you i.e. is someone going to buy their game instead of your sculpture?

Chris Kapono said...

Hi guys! Thanks for the comments. I checked and they have tons of games and I just don't have the energy to search them all LOL!
In researching my rights this is what I've found:
The moment you create ANYTHING visual such as paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture, the only person who is allowed to copy that art is you. You can sell prints of your art but if anyone else does, without your written permission, you have the right to take them to court and sue for damages.
In fact, copyright laws are so strong that your family or legal heirs will still own the copyright to your artwork until 70 years after your death.
I learned the harsh reality is that, once you have posted an image on the web, there really is no way to stop theft. NO way. The best thing that you can do is reduce the size of your images to a size so small, such as 600 x 600 pixels, that it is useless to any potential theives. Putting the copyright symbol and your name at the bottom of the image and as Casymini said, putting a copyright notice gives you much more leverage should it go to court.
To answer fulgorine; I would have considered their request and if I decided to give them permission, there would have to have been some sort of compensation agreement and I would have limited their rights to only that specific request. I would have put it all in writing so there were no misunderstandings as to what I was granting them. They are 'selling' images of my vase as part of their game. The image has become the product they are selling and it is that image, not just the vase, that I own. There is a market for selling 'stock' images for companies to buy and use and I did not sell this image to them to use as they wish. That is the 'customer' they have taken away from me...themselves. Get it?

Lori Cody said...

I think you should be compensated. Free games from the company for life?

My daughter has a website and there has been so much stolen from her it is ridiculous!

Too bad there doesn't seem to be much for moral standards these days.

Good luck!