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Jumping to Conclusions

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jumping to Conclusions

As some of you who get a feed of this blog know, I recently put up a post about stumbling upon someone selling cards of my artwork online, unbeknownst to me.

The cards were originally from a company I'd licensed some collage work to several years ago. That relationship didn't end well. The company went out of business without telling me. To this day, I have no idea if I was paid everything I was owed. I was left with a bad feeling about the whole enterprise. My first reaction when I found this new, unknown (to me) distributor was a suspicion that these were cards that I'd never been paid for. My license with the original company ended almost a decade ago.

But it turns out the people selling the cards are legit. They bought them years ago when the other company was still around and, theoretically, I should've been paid for them at the time by the original company. They found this old box in inventory and decided to sell them. I believe the current distributor. In my sheepish haste, I deleted the original post.

I guess the saddest thing to me is how easy it is, as an artist, to jump to conclusions to assume that something unsavory is going on.

Above, one of the images in question: Path of No Knowing (c) 1996.

3 Comments:

Anonymous buechertiger said...

I don't think that "as an artist" you jumped to conclusions. Rather "as a (copy)right holder". It is a unsatisfactory situation that artists have to play police and go around, trying to defend their rights.

But I don't quite understand your situation: If these cards were part of the assets of a company that went out of business, you *should* have been paid or given back your items. - I have not the slightest sliver of an idea of the legal situation; just talking about my personal view. - Could this new distributors really legally have bought your cards without you knowing of the deal or getting a slice of the profit out of it?

Thursday, May 13, 2010  
Blogger Paper Chipmunk said...

Very true what you say about being the copyright holder--I know you know about this all too well!

My first thought when I discovered this was that perhaps the original company, the one I'd signed the contract with, had sold the cards after they'd folded and that someone was now selling items with my work that I'd never been paid royalties for. So I wrote to the current distributor. They replied with a detailed letter explaining their relationship to the original company. It turned out they'd bought the cards outright all those years ago and I should've been paid my royalties then. I believe them. Their letter went into quite a bit of background. I have no reason to think they're not being honest. As for the original company... ? Part of the problem was the way they handled their closing. There was no communication. I just stopped hearing from them. It didn't inspire confidence. Fortunately, there weren't that many images involved, and any royalties in question were almost certainly not that much.

It was just startling to find these online--I last saw these particular cards almost 10 years ago. I jumped to conclusions, but it seems this distributor did legitimately buy them 10 years ago and has the right to do what they'd like with them. Theoretically, I should have been paid back then by the original company.

After the fact, I felt a bit silly and like I was drifting too much "off topic" to post it on the blog (I also didn't want to accuse someone publicly of nefarious motives, when it turns out the evidence points to them being legit)...so I had second thoughts about it. On the other hand, these sorts of things do confront artists...as you say, we have to play police. Thanks for your opinion on this--I appreciate it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010  
Anonymous Paper Chipmunk said...

Very true what you say about being the copyright holder--I know you know about this all too well!

My first thought when I discovered this was that perhaps the original company, the one I'd signed the contract with, had sold the cards after they'd folded and that someone was now selling items with my work that I'd never been paid royalties for. So I wrote to the current distributor. They replied with a detailed letter explaining their relationship to the original company. It turned out they'd bought the cards outright all those years ago and I should've been paid my royalties then. I believe them. Their letter went into quite a bit of background. I have no reason to think they're not being honest. As for the original company... ? Part of the problem was the way they handled their closing. There was no communication. I just stopped hearing from them. It didn't inspire confidence. Fortunately, there weren't that many images involved, and any royalties in question were almost certainly not that much.

It was just startling to find these online--I last saw these particular cards almost 10 years ago. I jumped to conclusions, but it seems this distributor did legitimately buy them 10 years ago and has the right to do what they'd like with them. Theoretically, I should have been paid back then by the original company.

After the fact, I felt a bit silly and like I was drifting too much "off topic" to post it on the blog (I also didn't want to accuse someone publicly of nefarious motives, when it turns out the evidence points to them being legit)...so I had second thoughts about it. On the other hand, these sorts of things do confront artists...as you say, we have to play police. Thanks for your opinion on this--I appreciate it.

Saturday, April 02, 2011  

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