So, here’s a super crappy way to start your day.
Yesterday, my pal Darren Di Lieto, from The Little Chimp Society website, emailed with some upsetting news. Turns out someone scraped the contents of his website and published it into a 350-page book being sold online for $100. You can read more on this post in Darren’s blog.
This book — which reprints without permission several dozen artist interviews which Darren had posted on the LCS blog — transcribes these interviews word-for-word, including the artwork, and was “published” under the title “Colorful Illustrations 93°C”. The book even includes a CD with all the illustrations from the book, all lifted off the site as well. Here’s a link to a gallery of scans that Darren made of each page of the book, with a close-up below of one of the two spreads which feature the interview Darren did of me (I can’t help but notice the thieves omitted the illustration of the two big gay muscle Daddies, chickens!):
The publisher — one very fake sounding “Great Creativity organization” [sic] — is allegedly in Hong Kong, so pursuing legal action seems pretty pointless, seeing as China has such a sparkling reputation for respecting copyright law. The ISBN they provide — ISBN 978-988-98142-0-5 — is also a fake. You can easily search ISBN databases online, and this number comes up empty.
“OMG! You should totally sue them!”
Yes, this is everyone’s first reaction, right after red-faced anger. Well, let me just grab my wallet and… oh, right, I draw pictures for a living! This means I’m lucky if I have enough money to pay some bills for the next few months, but not quite enough to launch a class-action lawsuit across international borders against a bogus copyright infringing publisher in China.
And here’s a troubling thought: How many more such projects is this “Great Creativity organization” publisher working on right now? Maybe another illustration book, this time filled with YOUR WORK? Maybe filled with content scraped from similar sites, such as Illustration Mundo, or Drawn!, or even Boing Boing? Or how about a lovely coffee table book full of high rez photos scraped off of Flickr?
So what are we going to do?
Several things. First, Darren has tried calling the current re-sellers, both in Spain and Japan, who so far both refuse to pull the book. This makes sense, as there’s not enough evidence for them to make up their minds right now (although I fail to see how or why a bookstore would so carelessly stock a book with a fake ISBN number, and not be interested to find out if they’re selling a plagiarized book).
He then tried locating the publisher, but of course they printed a bunch of fake contact info in the book so that’s useless. The distributor seems to be a company called Azur Corporation. They too have been impossible to reach. As we understand it, re-sellers and distributors who don’t pull plagiarized books from the circulation can be held accountable as co-plagiarists.
The main thing we want to do right now, is flood the web with the truth about this plagiarized book and its publisher, both to avoid any more poor suckers from shelling out $100 to these thieves, and to warn other bookstores against getting involved with these scam artists. You say: “So what if the internet is full of negative press regarding this company and their plagiarized book?” Well, YOU try recovering from the backlash of negative press after search engines yield nothing but red flags and warnings against your company or product.
Yes, the damage is done. The book has been printed, distributed, and is being sold. This doesn’t mean we’re powerless and unable to stop any future distribution of the book, and hopefully of any future projects they have planned.
We need your help
First, please re-distribute this blog post. Repost the whole thing, or part of it, in your blog, with links and tags included.
Next, use whatever social networks and news sharing sites you use every day — Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, Magnolia, Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook — to spread the word about this overpriced book full of plagiarized and stolen content. Feel free to quote us, and remember to also include the same keywords and tags in your posts. (Darren’s and my site makes this very easy already, with the little green “Share This” button at the bottom of every post in my blog.)
The result is that we may be able at least to shame these bogus publishers into removing this book from circulation and scare them back into their caves. A public apology, as well as forking over all the monies from sales, would be nice too but I’m not gonna hold my breath.
The longer term plan will involve approaching the current and possible future re-sellers and distributors with legal documents and press releases proving that this book is 100% full of plagiarized and stolen content, and calling for them to stop carrying the book.
We have a few more ideas too. We’re nothing if not creative individuals. Speaking of which, if you have any ideas and thoughts on this, we’d love to hear them!
I’ll keep you posted, and thanks for your help folks!