Latest Entries »

Here is more proof that both Amazon and the thieves it allows to sell stolen images in the Amazon Marketplace have nothing but contempt for customers.

Below is a screen shot of an absolutely atrocious copy of my work. Though the image was obviously taken from the Zazzle product page, it looks as if it is the typical degraded  copy of a copy of a copy…. You can see the address in the screenshot though I am sure it will be removed by Amazon when I report it. This particular seller offers a large number of stolen images which are just as degraded.

fukushima_stolen_pillow_amazon_blog

That the seller would offer such poor imagery, that Amazon allows such poor-quality products to be sold. Well, they must think you are idiots.

Compare it with my original image:

radioactive salmon

New Element Salmonium-235

Buyer beware! Lawlessness rules the land. The robber barons and thieves only want to separate you from your money and do not care who they harm to do so.

Amazon sux, and, as you will read, Amazon must have agreed with that sentiment.

The war with Amazon continues. A few months ago the company promised that it was going to do something about the proliferating millions of stolen images offered for sale on its web sites. Of course, we have heard nothing further from them about stopping the sale of stolen intellectual property in the Amazon Marketplace. The situation grows worse by the day.

Some time ago, in order to share my feelings about Amazon with the wider world, I posted a few products on Zazzle which expressed my disgust. Gosh darn it, I should have realized, who woulda’ thunk it, that the same Internet thieves who steal my art and sell it on Amazon would also steal and sell images criticizing Amazon on Amazon. No criminal could be that stupid, could they? No criminal would be so stupid as to endanger the legally-sanctioned, international fencing operation where he sells ill-gotten goods. Oh well, them things just happen.

As it happens, Internet thieves are now offering a number of these images for sale.  They appear on multiple Amazon web sites. I have chosen one to tell you about; one of the English-language ones.

Here is a screen shot of the stolen image on Amazon’s UK site. I have added a sightly enlarged image of the pillow so you can more easily read the relevant text.

fma_pillow_amazon_screenshot

Let me make a short aside here to illustrate something else those contemplating purchasing stolen goods from Amazon’s hordes of Internet thieves should be aware of.

Here is a my original image. A fairly good simulation of a pilot’s leather jacket patch:

fma_patch_trap_small

And you can view the actual product here. And, if you like the image, without the Amazon comment, a full-size version of it, along with some related imagery, is posted elsewhere on this blog. Look for “Flying Moose Aviation Patch.”

Now compare my original with the crappy image from the Amazon product page:

amazon_stolen_fma_pillow

Products sold by Zazzle all have nice, sharp images. That’s because the company ensures only high-quality printers are used and the artists and designers who work with the company submit high-resolution (lots of dots per inch) images.

The images displayed on product pages are not high resolution. This true for Zazzle, Amazon, and most any other seller. Typically, they have less than one third as many dots as do the originals. So when criminals steal an image they have to enlarge it to be big enough to print on a product. That necessarily distorts the image. So, if you purchase something from an Internet thief, and they actually send you something, in all likelihood it will be a crappy image on a crappy product. Not only do these thieves steal my art, but the crappy images damage my reputation as an artist.

The thieves do not care about quality. They only want to make a fast buck, or renminbi – they are criminals.

Okay, enough of that; back to our main story.

Gee, willikers; what to do about the Amazon sux pillow? I am just a member of the lumpen nobody-ariat who can be safely ignored by the uber-rich. You know, those with enough money to buy politicians, ensure that laws are so written as to let them get away with just about anything, and conquer the stars.

However, I actually mean Amazon no harm, certainly not the employees. So, nice guy that I am, I submitted a copyright infringement report. I am really good at this as I have to do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum. The same stolen images re-appear over and over and over and over and over and over and over again; often offered by the same thieves on Amazon, often with the same ASIN (Amazon’s product identification number). And very often we go through the same long, drawn-out process: Amazon replies claiming they can’t understand how my copyright is being infringed just because some thief, usually operating from China, has stolen the image and is selling it without my permission.  Well, you can see how I, and many thousands of other artists, might not feel all nice and fuzzy about Amazon.

Anyway, in spite of my antipathy towards Lord Bezos and company, I submitted the copyright infringement report. Amazon replied and flat out refused to remove the product. That led me to believe that Amazon agreed that Amazon sux.

I then submitted a customer review drawing attention to that fact that the product bore text stating, “Amazon sux.” Amazon approved and posted my comment. That only strengthened my belief that Amazon sux and Amazon agreed.

Again, as a member of the lumpen nobody-ariat, I do not have the money to sue Amazon and force it to tend to its reputation. And, anyway, Amazon defeats just about every lawsuit brought against it. The courts have ruled that Amazon bears no responsibility for the stolen goods sold on its web sites. In effect Amazon is a legally-sanctioned, international fencing operation.

Now whenever I come across one of my land mines while searching through the millions of bootleg products for my stolen images I just chuckle, or even chortle, and move on. I will not be reporting them, or similar images made by others. And, once again, given the ever-proliferating millions of bootleg products on Amazon, it is highly unlikely that I have found them all.

Just as I have to spend many hours a day searching through millions of images, so must Amazon – if it cares about its public image.

Just as Amazon operates in multiple countries and multiple languages, so do I.

Just as Amazon bears no responsibility for the stolen images which appear on its web sites, neither do I.

There are certain other characteristics which will make them more of a challenge to find.

It would be a mistake to assume I am the only artist who is torked off at Amazon.

Even though Zazzle artists and designers have to search through the millions of images we do not have to scrutinize them closely as our own art jumps out at us. Amazon, on the other hand, has no idea what to look for and I ain’t tellin’.

Live by the Internet thief, die by the Internet thief.

I was going to inform Bezos about this, “Seattle control to Lord Bezos.  We have a problem,” but decided not to interrupt his conquest of the Universe. In any event Amazon seems to have reconsidered and removed the pillow.

For another interesting tale from the Great Amazon War click here.

A newly-issued, twenty-nugget postage stamp from mythical independent Alaska commemorating the renewal of the service. This is the highest-denominated Alaska issue that I have seen thus far – delivering mail via dog sled to bush communities during the winter can be extremely grueling, even dangerous.  Though a modern, lightweight racing sled is depicted on the stamp, mail would have been carried by larger, more robust, freight sleds.

dog_sled_mail_stamp_small

 

I have wanted to portray a sled and dog team for some time. I am still letting my ideas percolate and may end up depicting a less-polished looking, native-built sled.

It is believed that the use of dog sleds dates back as far as 3,000 years ago, when some populations migrated northward due to pressure from communities were forced north to Siberia by nomadic herding peoples. Sled dogs have been used in Canada, Samiland (Lapland), Greenland, Siberia/Russian Far East, Norway, Finland and Alaska.

Historical references of the use of dogs sleds in North America predate European contact. The use of dogs for transportation was widespread, both among the Inuit and other peoples farther to the South. The Alaska Gold Rush saw an increase in the use of sled dogs as transportation and for freighting supplies. This, along with the use of dogsleds in polar exploration, led to the late 1800s and early 1900s being called the “Era of the Sled Dog”.  Dog sleds were important for transportation in arctic areas, hauling supplies in areas that were inaccessible by other methods.

Dog teams delivered mail . In Alaska dog sled mail delivery  Dogs were   hauled 500-700 lb loads. By 1901, dog trails had been established along the entirety of the Yukon River.

Regular dog sled mail deliveries to interior communities in both Alaska and northern Canada, which would otherwise have no mail service during the winter season (October to may) was common during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Dogs were superior to other forms of transport during the winter months. Capable of delivering mail in conditions that would stop boats, trains, and horses, they could cover long distances, work day or night, and traverse both frozen lakes and rivers and pass through trackless forests. The historic 2,300-mile Iditarod Trail was the main dog trail that carried mail from Seward to Nome. In recent years, competitive dogsled races have carried some commemorative mail.

Teams of 6-8 dogs pulled loads of between 500 – 700 pounds of mail. The dogs wore moosehide booties to protect their paws from the ice. Mail delivery by dog sled ended in 1963.

Dog sleds were used to patrol western Alaska during World War II. Sled dogs today are still used by some rural communities, especially in areas of Alaska and Canada and throughout Greenland.

The Danish military  continues to conduct long-range reconnaissance patrols in the wilderness of northern and eastern Greenland. Known as the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol (Danish: Slædepatruljen Sirius), the patrols are usually conducted by two sleds, and may last as long as four months; often without additional human contact.

Alaska Glacier

While the struggle against intellectual property theft continues, there has been enough progress that I again have some time to devote to art. So, for my first new image in several months is a little worked up from a photo I took many years in Alaska. I hope you enjoy it. The scene was unbelievably beautiful.

Also keep in mind that glaciers around the world are disappearing as a result of human-induced climate change.

I apologize for the watermark, but I refuse to just hand over my work to thieves.

southern alaska glacier

An awe-inspiring glacier in Alaska

Due to ongoing, concerted effort by artists and designers who offer their work on Zazzle.com, along with behind-the-scenes activity by Zazzle itself, Amazon.com now claims to recognize that the sale of stolen intellectual property in the Amazon marketplace,  and Amazon’s facilitation of such activity, must be solved.

Amazon has provided a streamlined method for Zazzle artists and designers to submit copyright infringement reports. Thus far Amazon seems to be responding quickly and removing infringing products.

This is a good start, but so far I have not been unable to determine if Amazon continues to retain the stolen images, associating the with the product details of the infringing products which were removed, thus providing the opportunity for them to be reposted.

Permanent removal of these images and instituting procedures to make it much more difficult for thieves to upload stolen images to its servers is a non-negotiable demand of the Zazzle artists and designers.

We continue to submit copyright infringement reports and contact Zazzle artists and designers who are not aware that their images are among those that appear on millions of bootleg products, fakes, which are offered for sale on multiple Amazon domains. We also continue in other actions which I will not further explain here.

I again want express my thanks to Mr. Bezos for reading my email and arranging that an Amazon representative speak to me personally. I do, however to reiterate, as I made clear to the representative, that the army of mad Zazzle storekeepers continues to grow on a daily basis. We will continue in our efforts until the thieves are permanently driven from Amazon.

There need not be an adversarial relationship between Amazon and the many thousands of Zazzle artists and designers. The ball is in Amazon’s court.

It is bad enough that Amazon refuses to remove art when it is proven to have been stolen, but among the stolen works are those intended to support charity in Africa. Zazzle.com, where many artists sell their work, has a program whereby artists can LIFE Line which enables Kenyan mothers to care for their children and provide for their families. Kenyan mothers create handmade products to earn sustainable wages so they can lift their families out of poverty.

Amazon profits from every sale of stolen art, millions of bootleg products are offered for sale on its web sites. Not only artists in North America and Europe, many of whom are in financial straits, but he poorest of the poor. Shame on Amazon! This can not be allowed to continue.

More to consider.

Artists, and the US-based vendors where they sell their art, aren’t the only ones affected by Amazon’s facilitation of Chinese intellectual property thieves. Product manufacturers are also losing sales. the manufacturers hire fewer workers because of the lost sales. Then there is the income tax revenue that would be paid by the designers and all those employees and potential employees to local, state, and federal governments.

And if you buy from artist-authorized vendors, such as Zazzle, consumers receive better products with high-quality graphics.

Do cheap products sold through Amazon and shipped from China meet USA safety standards?

Boycott Amazon!

Please write your senators and representatives.

I have posted a White House Petition asking for Congress to address the problem of Amazon thieves.

It reads:

The stolen work of many artists is uploaded to Amazon.com and sold on many products.
When an artist proves ownership of his work Amazon retains the image, claiming it has rights to it. Such open invitations do not go unnoticed by those looking to make a fast buck

Artists endlessly submit infringement reports for images, which have been removed many times.

Not only American artists are affected; this is an international problem. Most are lesser known artists, beginners, or even hobby artists.

There are now so many stolen images on Amazon that it is impossible to keep up. Mass fraud gives the impression that business standards in the U.S. have fallen to a very low level.

The artists have requested relief from Amazon, many times without the courtesy of a reply.

Please help us stop this.

Please sign the petition here.

.

The latest update: May 22d

A couple of days ago I was contacted by a representative from Amazon’s office of Executive Seller Relations after Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com and owner of the Washington Post, read one of my email messages to him.

We discussed the situation, actually I did most of the talking. I explained the problem artists are having with their work being stolen and resold on Amazon. I corrected the representatives assertion that this is an every-once-in-a-while occurrence; there are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of fake, or counterfeit, or whatever you want to called them, products sold on Amazon.com and Amazon’s foreign web sites. Amazon did not need me to tell them any of this – they already knew.

I also informed him that the artists are fighting mad. We will continue to contact artists who are being ripped off and inform them as to how they can protect their rights. We will also continue to publicize the problem with petitions at the White House web site and elsewhere in the US and abroad ; Better Business Bureau complaints, blog posts, writing to Congressional representatives, contacting the intellectual property theft departments of the FBI and OPM, explore the possibility of class action lawsuits, and further options I will not mention here.

I then proposed a solution that I believe would satisfy all involved, greatly reduce the amount of stolen intellectual property being sold on Amazon’s domains, and allow Amazon to rightly point to itself as a pro-active guardian of artists’ rights.This would be a win-win solution for all involved save the thieves.  And I think that, after an initial period to shut down the storefronts of problem sellers, there would be less of a workload on Amazon’s employees responsible for dealing with copyright infringements.

I hope that Amazon is sincere when it tells us that it cares about protecting intellectual property rights. Otherwise we artists are just getting started and more of us are involved every day.

For now, do not enable those who just want to make a fast buck by selling you an inferior product and boycott Amazon. Buyer beware!

For those in the UK here is a petition for greater penalties for online outlets which fail to protect intellectual property rights: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/130718

————————

In many ways Amazon appears to be little more than an online fencing operation. Here’s how it works.

The criminals copy low-resolution images from the product pages of various legitimate outlets, such as Zazzle, where I sell my art. A low-resolution image has little detail in it. While it is suitable for display on computer monitors, when printed on t-shirts, or mouse pads, or doormats, or whatever, they will be fuzzy, muddy and distorted. The dimensions (size) of the stolen images are also small, so, the thieves, have to enlarge them so that they will be able print them on items to sell; this further distorts the image. Now, the criminal, usually located beyond the reach of US law enforcement in places such as China, print the distorted images on a variety of products and offer them for sale. There are millions of such items available for sale on Amazon. You should be aware, that if you purchase these items, especially if they are shipped from China, you will probably receive a product with a crappy image on it. Buyer beware!

When an artist finds one of his stolen images for sale on Amazon it will be removed if the artist is willing to jump through enough hoops.

It does not end there, however. Amazon claims that when an individual uploads an image to be used in selling a product certain rights with respect that image are irrevocably ceded to Amazon. It seems to matter not a whit to Amazon that the original artist did not upload the image and, therefore ceded no rights. The product image and other information about a product for sale is contained in what Amazon calls a product detail page. Even when Amazon acknowledges the original artist’s copyright has been violated by the thieves and removes the infringing product, the product detail page is retained in a catalog. This is an open invitation to another aspiring criminal to re-post the product and sell it. Not surprisingly, this happens over and over and over and over again, ad nauseum. There seems to belittle we can do about this. Big corporations always ensure that laws are written in such a way as to protect them.

Generally, when artists file copyright infringement reports with Amazon they are asked to remove the product detail pages; all to no avail. Despite repeated personal email messages sent to Mr. Bezos, by myself and many other artist, nothing has changes. As far as I know not one of us has ever been given the courtesy of a reply.

But wait! There’s more! Amazon has an internal theft problem as well. Some of these same thieves who sell on Amazon steal images from other, honest sellers on Amazon and brazenly offer items for sale with these stolen images.

I have talked with any artists who have been ripped off by the Amazon thieves. A large percentage of them are retirees, stay-at-home moms, people who can no work due to illness or lack of employment employment opportunities; some are dying of slow-burn cancer. All are just trying to earn a few extra dollars; the thieves are taking food out of their mouths. If you buy from the Amazon thieves you are enabling international intellectual property crime, screwing over the artists who receive no royalties, and, you will likely receive a sub-standard product.

A couple of weeks ago news headlines announced that Mr. Bezos made six billion dollars in twenty minutes. Easy enough when you profit from the sale of millions of products bearing stolen images.

While intellectual property crime falls within the purview of both the FBI’s intellectual property crime people and OPM which has a similar office; due to limited manpower, they must devote their attention to higher priority matters such as the theft of military and commercial technology by China and other nations. The government of China has no incentive to help enforce US copyright and intellectual property theft law. We are considering a class action lawsuit. If anyone knows of a lawyer who would be interested in this matter ask him to contact me. The same goes for any investigative journalist looking for a good story.

I will never buy another item from Amazon and ask you do the same. Write to Mr. Bezos at jeff@amazon.com and request he address this issue.

Lastly, The Fireman asked me to post this message for the Amazon thieves. “I will continue to burn your Amazon stores to the ground; every single one. If you start a new one, I will burn that down as well. As many times as necessary until you are driven, permanently, from Amazon.

Internet Art Thieves

Due to the growing problem of Internet art thieves the images in all future posts will be marked, defaced, with a copyright mark.  The images in existing posts will also be replaced with those bearing a copyright mark. This will prevent anyone from using the images, selling them without my permission. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Most artists do not make a great deal of money from practicing their craft, however, what we do receive is important.  Thievery will drive many artists away from making art; certainly we will stop sharing it with the public on the Internet.

Please sign this online petition urging Amazon.com to help prevent the sale of stolen art on their site.

You may also want to join this Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/442213309304038. It is open open to all artists, photographers and designers.

Look here for more information on how you can help us stop art theft in the future.

 

mr. molotov's pale ale

Mr. Molotov’s Pale Ale

A bit of dark humor this time – a label from a bottle of Mr. Molotov’s Pale Ale brewed by mythical High Octane Brewing Company.

Mr. Molotov’s Pale Ale[/caption]Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs under Josef Stalin. Along with text reading “Mr. MOLOTOV’S Pale Ale” and “OCTANE RATING: 93.” Additional includes health warnings and the name of the brewery. Customizable text reading “Toss ‘Em A Molly” also appears. I often refer to Molotov cocktails as Mr. Molotov’s Pale Ale.

The Molotov Cocktail (Russian: Коктейль Молотова) is an improvised incendiary device, usually a gasoline-filled bottle. As they are extremely easy to make they are often used in riots, by street gangs, and by guerrilla fighters. The idea is to set the target ablaze, as opposed to blowing it up with explosives.

While most probably first used during the Spanish civil war in the 1930’s, the term “Molotov Cocktail” was coined by the Finns, as a jibe against Molotov, during the Winter War (1939-40) following a Russian invasion. Molotov claimed on Soviet radio that the bombs the Russians were dropping on Finland were actually humanitarian food deliveries for the starving Finns. The FInns referred to Soviet cluster bombs as “Molotov bread baskets.” Later, the Finns called gasoline incendiary devices used against Soviet tanks “Molotov cocktails,” a beverage to accompany the bread. Minister Molotov did not much care for the term.

Light up the party; toss ’em a Molly. Please do not try this at home or on the street. Leave it to the professional radical; especially as most people make a critical mistake when constructing Molotov cocktails and are more likely to immolate themselves than their intended target.

I enjoyed making this project as it required thinking about both artistic and technical elements. Making the label itself was quite fun, and then so was rendering a 3D bottle with the label image correctly sized and oriented in DAZ Bryce. I think I was fairly successful in giving the label the look of second-rate, poor quality which was typical of many items printed in the Soviet Union.

As usual the image is available on a growing list of items at one of my Zazzle stores. Search for “molotov.”

mr. molotov's pale ale label

A Molly Label

a flaming bottle of mr. molotov's pale ale

Don’t Try This At Home