Polyvore-ingenius or infringement

Stolen (pin) by Robin Cruz McGee
Stolen (pin) by Robin Cruz McGee

As an admitted geek,  I admire the basic concepts behind Polyvore.com, as stated on their “About” page:

Polyvore is a free, easy-to-use web-based application for mixing and matching images from anywhere on the web. It is also a vibrant community of creative and stylish people.

Polyvore lets you create sets composed of individual images using an easy to use, drag and drop editor. After you have created a set, you can publish and share it with your friends and the Polyvore community.

But my admiration ends where the copyright issues begin. 

Polyvore: ingenius or infringement?

It was brought to my attention by long-time EBSQer Aja that Polyvore was allowing its members to steal and essentially “mutlilate” images from a number of sites without permission via its proprietary “clipping” tool.  Apparently this was a huge issue with Etsy last year, and it’s become so again. They’ve also been stealing images from Flickr, and we’re not talking about Creative Commons images but ones that are explicitly marked all rights reserved.  A quick search revealed they were doing the same with images from EBSQart, RedBubble, Imagekind, CafePress, DeviantArt, and individual artist’s blogs and personal websites. We’re certain there are other art and photography sources we’ve missed.  Sometimes the images were used with some nod of attribution. We found many cases where they were not.  Also, we discovered that in many cases, the artists’ watermarks, which are generally used to keep others from reusing their work sans permission or proper attribution, were removed using Polyvore’s in-house editing tools.

According to Polyvore’s Terms of Service:

You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize Polyvore to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service.

and

In connection with User Submissions, you further agree that you will not:

  1. submit material that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant Polyvore all of the license rights granted herein; (ii) publish falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage Polyvore or any third party;

When we contacted Polyvore about all of the images derived from the EBSQart website and asked them to remove all source images, derivative images, and block our domain from being “clipped” again, they apologized and said they took care of it. A later search of their site revealed that while the  source images were gone, the derivative items remained fully intact on their site without any attribution to the original artists or works of art  until another complaint was filed. We hope this is the end of the issue as far as the EBSQ website is concerned, but I have my doubts if their ongoing battle with Etsy is indicative of how they do business.

While, according to Polyvore-founder Pasha Sadri, Polyvore is not a sales venue, he also admitted that they do make money when someone clicks through to an affiliated merchant like The Gap and makes a purchase (see the conversation in context at Flickr) There is also some talk of them enabling you to print out your spanking “new” derviative artwork in the future. So yes, they are potentially profitting from your stolen artwork.

What can you do if your work has been used at Polyvore without your consent?

  • Make sure you document every single Polyvore “set” that used your image(s) including screenshots and urls for each infraction
  • Contact info@polyvore.com with your complaint.  Ask them to remove your source images, ALL derivative works created from your originals, and ask them to block your domain from being snipped again if the work was stolen from your personal domain or blog. You can also submit your complaint via their online copyright infraction form.
  • Follow up to make sure your work has actually been removed.  Don’t just take their word for it!

For further reading on this issue:

http://etsynews.com/607/is-polyvore-stealing-your-images/

http://www.redbubble.com/people/crokuslabel/writing/266182-petition-to-stop-copyright-theft-at-polyvore-com

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5438055&page=1

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5438619&page=1

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5982886&page=1

http://etsynews.com/848/is-polyvore-stealing-your-images-part-ii/

http://stellaimhultberg.blogspot.com/2009/01/polyvore-problem.html

http://artandghosts.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/01/polyvore-copyright-violation-update.html

Finally, EBSQ artist Aja created a petition aimed at stopping Polyvore from allowing these violations to continue. If this is something you are passionate about, she asks that you take a look and consider adding your voice (and name) to the conversation.

In response, some of the users at Polyvore have created a petition of their own.

So, what’s your take on this issue? Is Polyvore simply an interesting space that lets you mashup other people’s images to create something new and fun to share with your friends? Or is the site blatantly encouraging copyright infringement and ignoring artists’ rights?

-Amie Gillingham, co-founder, EBSQ


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EBSQ/ImageKind “Art Of The Equestrian” Show

There are 12 days left to enter work in the joint EBSQ/ImageKind show “Art Of The Equestrian”.  It’s a show where, not only will the winner find themselves with great prizes from ImageKind, but the exposure for every participant is fantastic. All the entries will appear on EBSQ and ImageKind. All show entries will also be available for purchase through ImageKind. If you are interested in learning more about “Art Of The Equestrian” – show requirements, prizes, juror information and current entries, click the banner below. If you are unfamiliar with ImageKind, you can get information on who they are and what they offer here
This really is a great opportunity to participate in something unique and get valuable exposure. I hope that many of you will participate and make “Art Of The Equestrian” a smashingly, wonderful show.

Art of the Equestrian

“For Sale – Art Of The Day” Returns This Month

“For Sale – Art Of The Day” is back!. This time the theme is “Beachy Keen”. It is for all things beach and is open to any and all media. As this is the second week in July, “For Sale – Art Of The Day” will run July 30th – August 5th. The deadline for having your completed work in the EBSQ Galleries is 9AM Sunday, July 29th.
 
Artists who wish to create new work for the “Beach Keen” may do so. Anyone who would like their work to be considered for this monthly sales week should have their work in the EBSQ galleries as well as listed for sale on eBay, Etsy, or Imagekind before Sunday, July 29th. All the art for Art of the Day is selected and formatted before the start of each week and is closed to additions once the week begins.  Remember to be sure to include “EBSQ” and “beach” somewhere in your title and description both on EBSQ and at the sales venue of your choice.

Work for this Art Of The Day will be chosen in the same manner as regular Art Of The Day work. The artwork will epitomize the theme as well as compliment the other pieces to be included that week. I wish that we could feature everything that fits a theme but we obviously can’t. However, artists not included in the AOTD line up will still benefit. There will be something very obvious in every “For Sale – Art Of The Day” write-up stating that there are many other works available and how they can be found. 

As always,  if you have any questions, please drop me a line at edu@ebsqart.com

 
-Melissa