Online art theft becoming an epidemic

Jamie Morath's whimsical sketches of cats and dogs
Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 18:59:31-05

The holiday season is a great time for crafts people and artists, who make their best profits of the year selling their work.

But more and more are finding someone else is selling it, and stealing their profits!

Jamie Morath is a folk artist, a Norman Rockwall for the 21st century, who creates whimsical sketches of cats and dogs with her pencil and paint.

"I see a lot of pictures of a bathtub and pets all around it? It's just everyday inspiration of what cats and dogs do,” she said.

Pet lovers across the world are snapping up her prints on Facebook and Etsy.

“I've sold to all 50 states,” she said.

But a friend recently gave her some bad news:

Someone was stealing her artwork -- like this picture --and reselling it without her permission!

"Somebody took my image and was selling them on T-shirts!"

You would think that shutting down counterfeiters would be easy. Send them a letter or email, or have a lawyer send them a letter telling them to stop.

Problem is, these counterfeiters aren't local.

"It was a company from China using my work on their T-shirts"

So she now puts watermarks of her name on the pictures, but her husband, Shawn, says the thieves have even photoshopped out her name!

"Watermarks are good but with today's technology they can easily be erased online, so I don't know how you stop it,” he said.

Online art theft is so epidemic...

Etsy now recommends that artists:

  • post photos of your work on the wall or in a frame.
  • incorporate your name into the image.
  • and post only low pixel, grainy versions online.

"it's disappointing because artists work hard!"

Jamie says she may have to get lawyers involved if online thieves keep stealing her pets.

So if you are buying some crafts or art this holiday season, try to make sure you are not buying a counterfeit so you don’t waste your money.