Saving Baphomet - Art Theft?
What's wrong with this picture? Can anyone take a wild guess? This picture was shared long before a problem with it came up. As a matter of fact, it was not long after this pic was share that I had decided to share another pic. Well, let me clarify, it wasn't necessarily ME that posted the second pic but rather one of my facebook admins and business partners.
The problem came to light over the far right coffee mug/thermos. The cartoon version of Baphomet on the far right. THAT ONE...AND THAT ONE, ONLY. Not the rest! Lets be clear on this, the rest of the coffee travel mugs were ok, only the one of the far right. WHY? Because someone was claiming rights to that drawing. Someone from outside the U.S.A. Not going to go into specifics on the person involved. As a matter of fact, this picture is within copyright law because we are using the fair use of this pic to depict a situation that had occurred via this blog post. SO, to make it more simple, the art was not copyrighted by U.S. law standards nor was it copyright protected by the person claiming rights to it. SIMPLY saying that this is your art is all people need to do these days to legitimatize someone's creation.
I am not saying whether or not this is right or wrong. I think it brings attention to the tons of loopholes out there that exist. These days, everyone is a fucking copyright police or a facebook police that constantly checks for nipples or what ever hurts your feelings. In this situation, this image or drawing that was BASED OFF OF ELIPHAS LEVI'S BAPHOMET had been floating around for some time on the internet. FOR YEARS as a matter of fact. If anything, this image was stolen and reshared a million times over for years! Again, let me express YEARS. Day by day, nobody says shit until a big company shares a product with the image printed on it. That company being THIS COMPANY, Sigil of Baphomet Satanic Jewelry.
It all came down to this pic. Again, at the bottom right hand corner. This picture came from one of my business partners. We have shared a lot of pictures on social media and at times we share something that is meant for aesthetic purposes. Think of it like a giant social experiment. To see if it sparks interest in people, so we can have an idea of which direction to take when it's time to introduce a new product. Grant it, we have been mainly a jewelry company from the start but over time, just like M-Tv, it cannot be all music videos all the time. So just like them, they ventured out based on what people LIKE. And in this case, we ventured out on what people like too, ASIDE from jewelry. It doesn't mean that everything shared on social media will be a new product. Not at all. We sometimes do it to gain some feedback and get a feel for things in the market space we are in. On this particular day, all hell broke lose over an image that was based off Eliphas Levi's Baphomet. Yeah, so what if its a cartoon. The artist based it off another image. Does that make it any right to do that? That is questionable. There is probable good reason why the other images are not copyrighted. They have become part of the copyright law that states you cannot copyright that which is already published, shared, and in common use everywhere. For example, you cannot copyright an image of Jesus Christ. Nor a crucifix. Even if you create jewelry around it, your unique SPIN on a copied image does not qualify! Now for the sake of argument, I will disclose that I am NOT an attorney, nor do I give advice on copyright law. Do I have a copyright attorney, YES I DO. Parent company Xerxes Enterprises LLC has attorneys when needed, that includes a trademark and copyright attorney here in the U.S.A.
The first thing people do is go on the attack and at best, never stop to ask questions. That's what happened here. The creator of that image sent their followers to literally go on the attack on this image. Responding to anyone that said things like "OH NICE, I want that", "I LOVE THIS" etc. They kept saying that I was an art thief. Let me be clear, you cannot use images that are SIMILAR to someone else's artwork to make it your own. You need licensing or you are likely going to get crushed in the court system. You can get sued into oblivion in some cases. Grant it, Eliphas Levi is not around and I believe he was originally from France about 200 years ago. SO copyright laws were probably not in effect as they are now these days. Still, the images are published and shared all over the world. The way the laws are, as I understand them to be, and again, I am not an attorney, but this is the way I understand it; Anything that gets published online BEFORE you file for a copyright, is fair game for anyone to take it and use it. I strongly believe, this was the case with these images. Despite this, if they tried to protect it legally, it is likely that they would get rejected due to the fact that Baphomet is literally EVERYWHERE. You cannot protect Baphomet via copyright law. Just like Jesus Fuckin' Christ. Cannot be done.
Since the onslaught of harassment from NON-FOLLOWERS of our social media pages over this post, I DID speak with the creator of this image. I had expressed that the only reason Sigil of Baphomet is targeted is because we have become so large its obvious that we are an easy target. This comes with the territory. Major organizations have attacked me before for the same reason. Had I been small fries, a basic nobody in the space, I hardly doubt they would have taken notice.
As we began to talk, I had to make it clear that this artist's methods by which to grab my attention was wrong. Initially I had no intention to deal with this person. One of my business partners eventually convinced me to address the situation. And by that I mean, just take the picture down. It was just a continuing situation that would not end. I had told the artist that it was simply a matter of sending an email regarding your concern over an image that you claim was theirs. We went back and forth, in the beginning. It was rather an ugly situation. I had shown this artist some screen shots to prove my case on all that I just said. This image has been in use by other companies before too. It was nothing new and the only reason I was targeted was because I am very accessible to reach.
I also showed screen shots over the fact that this artist KNEW that this images had been in use by others before. It was comments made under this image of a shirt with the same image.
Now, needless to say, I did not bring up MY understanding of what the laws are in the U.S. because with Facebook, they can do what ever they want. Its a publicly traded company but we are still using THEIR platform and THEIR RULES. They can simply take someone's word on a claim and just delete the pics I share or anyone's pics. Its not that the pics are not mine, they certainly ARE. Its just that they can remove them at will since they ultimately have the final say. The last thing any company wants is to be dragged into is a legal battle when the resolution is as simple as delete the image and be done with it.
Just as facebook has its rules, so do I for my website. Then again, all the content here is either fair use or pictures of products I offer. IF someone objects to what I have for sale, the best way to start is simply shoot me an email. Going on the attack is just the wrong way to go about things. For one, it gives you less credibility as an business if you are trying to sell your art. Who wants to deal with someone that goes on the attack and asks questions later, if any?
So in fairness, I told this artist what I believe would have been a better approach to things. And I am also aware that this artist has since shared the story about all that had occurred on their social media too. Now it was my turn. My blog. Because some people still think I just steal art when I do not.
In past blogs I have shared the importance of watermarking your pics. You cannot assume that you will always get credited for someone sharing your pictures on social media or elsewhere. There's apps that can do this for you.
If you are an artist whom is trying to sell your art, I got news for you, you gotta learn how to protect your art. Do what every responsible business does, protect your shit and don't expect your followers to handle your battles. I mean seriously, had the image had a watermark I would have emailed that artist to buy the art myself. T0 have exclusive rights to it and everybody wins. Instead, we had to meet under harsh circumstances. They went on the attack and I'm supposed to play nice about it? I hardly don't think so. Its not the way it works.
Now, don't get me wrong when you are reading this, thinking that all I did was simply remove the pic from Facebook. Yes, I did remove it. If there is a fight over ONE of the many images shown in the pic, then that just means I am not going to allow this artist to utilize MY platform either to give credit or exposure when there is none to be given. If I do not want to give anyone props or credit for something, your "items or art" will simply not get shown. You see, its all about ETIQUETTE folks. That's what this boils down to. If and when there is an issue with showing a picture and I am not sure where it came from, the easiest and best thing to do is to simply request a credit. Its great exposure for you. I get nothing for sharing a pic. I don't sell pictures or subscriptions to model shoots. Social media has multiple functions. When people love and appreciate something creative, it gets a LIKE or a share. Sometimes the sources are simply from a Google search or Tumblr, Instagram, etc. often without a source or credit. So you can't always blame people for not doing it. Just ask. You'd be surprised how etiquette can go a long way for you.
Having said all this, the story will end with a resolution that I had proposed to the artist. Despite the bickering back and forth, I made a proposal. Considering that this image has been in circulation for years on the internet, I made a very sweet proposal. Are you ready for this?
Many of you, whom have followed me since the early days recall the proposals I made to the Church of Satan, then The Satanic Temple...JUST 2 of the MANY I have made in the past few years. SOME will do a deal others simply reject it. Well, this was no different. I proposed a royalty deal for the artist. It was a really simple deal. For each item that has the image that was in question, I would have financially compensated the artist for it. Its JUST THAT SIMPLE. That alone would have been the starting point for a good negotiation. Instead, what do I get? I am to frustrated to think right now. I don't think I want to do anything at the moment. I am just too overwhelmed lately. That, in simple terms, was what I got back from my proposal. Talk about the surprise shock right? We are talking about an image that has been in use for years. Shared across the Internet and used on other products we do not know of yet. Not to mention whether or not those whom are using the image would have the right to do so in the first place. Perhaps if the artist went through the court system, the expense of fighting it out for more years and the possibility of losing..or not. The simple fact that I made a proposal to at least OFFER SOMETHING where NOBODY ELSE WAS DOING THIS BEFORE should have been a FUCK YEAH, LET'S DO THIS!
NO! Nothing. I got a some random answer like that. And with that, I responded by stating, that they reconsider my offer based on the fact that at least I am offering a way to monetize for the creative work, whereas the artist probably does not get nearly as much for just staking a claim on the image. I expressed that there are PLENTY of images I can use. This is JUST ONE that I think would be a good idea to add to the line up. What you need to understand is that there are graphic designers that can create something unique to the brand of Sigil of Baphomet and crank out a few images for the sole purposes on putting it on travel mugs. This is NOT something I needed to do, with making a proposal. I felt it was a good way to make a wrong go right and EVERYONE WOULD WIN.
Currently, there is ONE artist whom I support. I created the Baphomet plush dolls based off a CROCHET doll. The creator of the crochet dolls gets a royalty for each plush doll sold. This keeps the artist around for years to come so long as people are interested in the plush dolls. The more plush dolls I can create around the crochet dolls, the bigger the royalty. Not only that, I make nothing on the crochet dolls. I sell them for the artist. I buy them, take the risk 100% and resell them for worldwide distribution on this website.
I would do this with any artist out there that wants to take their creative works to a whole new level. As many of you know, my story is quite simple, I'm an entrepreneur for 20+ years and this is where I invest in now. I am always open to work with anyone who has an idea that is marketable. I get that not everyone is business-minded. I am not here to take away from anyone. IN fact, I would much rather elevate DARK artists because these things were so hard to come by in recent years. I think the market would highly appreciate seeing things like this. The more that is produced, the more common these products will some day be. For now, Sigil of Baphomet is pioneering the way to bringing amazing products to the marketplace, one item at a time.
If only more people understood this instead of just going on the attack over a misunderstanding. My door is still open for this possibility. However, I doubt that the artist will ever see it MY way.
And that, my friends, concludes the recent turn of events over a facebook post. Is it really theft? Its no protected. Its been around the internet, constantly losing its value. I came up with a great idea and this was the result. There's always another artist or graphic designer that is willing take up a missed opportunity by others. Such is life.
Protect your work if you plan on doing something with it, otherwise, someone else will come along and just crush you. My jewelry designs have been knocked off, so I understand the frustration. The only difference is, I don't miss out on opportunities when I see it or its presented to me.
Stay Dark my friends.
We are still gonna bring the travel mugs.....but with many OTHER images.