I am both amused and dismayed that so many artists who quickly ripped into the manufacturer have gone silent now that it has been revealed that the artist’s (un) original designs were traced, apparently without permission or attribution, from other people’s photographs. The infringing manufacturer’s position is indefensible, no question there – but so is that of an artist tracing copyrighted work and calling it their own. Nobody should get a pass here. And what of those other licensees with legitimate licensing agreements that are now looking at their product lines as potential infringements (against various photographers) and are waiting for the other shoe to drop? If it does those costs could be catastrophic.
There is no future in maintaining a “poor artists against the mean manufacturers” attitude, it will very quickly poison your relationships and ultimately your career. Here at Two Town we truly like the vast majority of the companies and people we work with and can count many good friends among them, and it seems I find myself advocating consideration of the licensee side of things far too often because many artists automatically jump to the “manufacturers are bad” side of things. Yes, infringements do occur but the truth is you are way more likely to be ripped off by another artist than by a potential licensee.
There is a lesson to be learned here, and it’s an unpalatable one – in this biz of art and product licensing sometimes it IS all about the money, and that fact will pop up on either side of the equation. It can lead to hard knocks for sure, but you can usually duck them if you stay original, do your research, write good contracts and use your smarts.