My Image is being used in an internet scam and I tried to do something about it.

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My Image is being used in an internet scam and I tried to do something about it.

My Harry Potter Bookcase Quilt image is being used in an internet scam and I tried to do something about it.

sIt didn’t go well. I didn’t really expect it to, but I thought perhaps a girl who makes things as a hobby could make a difference. Perhaps I don’t need an army of lawyers or a publishing house armed with money to make a difference. Perhaps I don’t need an advanced degree in international law and copyright infringement to make a difference. Perhaps with perseverance and determination, I can stop something that simply isn’t right or OK. It won’t be the first time my Pollyanna ideas were slapped with a hard reality. I can’t do any of those things. As a matter of fact, my attempts were not only futile but weren’t even noticed. All I can offer is a cautionary tale.

HarryPotterQuiltDoubleSortOf

So what’s happening?

There is a business out of Singapore. They call themselves a “marketing company”. They have discovered that people really like the look of handmade quilts and have spun up several websites and social media pages selling “blankets”. I’ve found them selling a variety of themes including book lovers, horse lovers, farm lovers, dog lovers, etc. They have multiple website URLs that come and go, but you’ll know one when see it because all the sites look the same. The pages are mostly white, they have gray text, an image of the “blanket” they are selling for around $50 claiming 50% or 60% off retail value. They use stolen images from artist’s sites to sell their “blankets”. I’ve seen 100s of images from tons of different artists. Some of them are so clearly snapshots, I wonder why they would even bother to steal them.

Yes, as it turns out, they will send you a “blanket”. No, it is not anything like what you may expect.

How do I know?

 

I bought a “blanket”. They stole my image of my Harry Potter quilt. I was desperately trying simple, but visible efforts to put a dent in their scam. I constantly pinged the company and the parent “marking company” demanding the my image be taken down. I commented on every single facebook post I saw using the images they didn’t own. Some of the posts have literally 1000s of responses and I’d hit 10 – 100 every time, for every quilt. They completely ignored my messages and deleted every single comment. I was even blocked from some of the groups and pages.

One afternoon, I was listening to a book and the detective character said, “start with the money”.  My wheels started turning and I decided to try a different tack. Sure, I don’t have a team of lawyers, but paypal does. I thought maybe if I bought one and fought the good fight through paypal, I’d get some help. At the very least, I hoped it would get them on somebody’s radar. Yes, that means I gave money to the very people I was trying to shut down. Yes, I know how convoluted (I have a better phrase, but we’ll keep it clean) that is. I had to try though.

It didn’t work. Paypal pretty much dismissed my claim as soon as the package arrived. I’m not sure any human ever even read any of the claims. They didn’t seem to care that the site I bought it from was gone, that no one answered my messages, or that the seller misrepresented their product. I don’t know, but I honestly suspect that a human never looked at it. I get the feeling that they handle so many of these things that it is black and white and largely automated. The claim is closed so that avenue is no longer viable.

I’m tired. I fought the good fight. Not really for myself, but for the people they are screwing over. I accept that my images are going to appear in different places. I accept that people are likely to use my ideas or images to take their own spin and sell it. If they had an image of the knockoff and were selling items based on that image, I’d probably just shrug my shoulders. What can you do? What I don’t accept and I’m not ok with is straight up misleading people and that’s exactly what they are doing.

What you actually get

So here are the real images. What you’ll get is a digitally printed (I don’t think they are even sublimation prints) image on seriously sub par material. It looks like they might have some color limitation so there are a lot places that are missing pieces and parts of the design, the titles, or other details. The finished blanket is smaller than the original so they simply removed elements and shuffled around others to make it fit. There color choices are suspect creating “disappearing elements” and no, I don’t just mean the invisible book! In my case, mine has a misprint and has a test print right on the front.

HarryPotterQuiltKnockOff

The only stitches are around the plastic binding. They are super wide and half added. To keep the binding for any length of time, I’d have to do some repair work. There is NO quilting in the center of the quilt. It appears to be heat pressed in a quilt like pattern to mash the plain white equally crappy fabric to the front. As far as I can tell, the batting is a very loose polyester, like something you would find in a low end fairground stuff animal. This thing is miserably hot and slippery too!

Now you know. While I’d like for us to collectively shut people like this down, it doesn’t seem like it is going to happen. I’ll share my story with anyone that will listen. Maybe, but some small miracle I can at least set some people’s expectations right when they buy these things and help them make real choices.

Or maybe, no one cares. Either way, I’ve done anything and everything I can think of and will keep pressing on the social media sites when I see them.