November 29, 2015

Entreprenuer 101: Don't Steal

As an entrepreneur I've learned many things as I have gone through the journey of having a business, a small business, but a business none the less. Yet as much as I have learned throughout my experiences there is one thing that I have never done and I learned it way before starting my business. To me it should be a cardinal rule of doing business and that is NEVER STEAL SOMEONE ELSES SHIT. I don't mean doing a drive by getting out of your car bust into a store and take what you want. Yet that is also really bad too. What I mean by this is theft of property by stealing someone's pictures to pass off for your own business.

I've unfortunately seen it done from time to time on the internet but never really paid attention to it until recently. I was on my main Instagram account last night and noticed a picture from a business owner who specializes making amazing and beautiful items for parties, weddings, pretty much anything you can think of. The name of her business is Angela's FantasyCreations. I was watching the interactions that Angela was having with another business that swiped a very popular picture of hers and has passed it off as a picture for their own business.

This is the picture in question unfortunately at the time when the picture was originally posted to the internet back in 2013, there wasn't a watermark. So you can only imagine the firestorm this picture created on the internet, especially on Pinterest. Unfortunately other business who are in the same line of work as Angela have passed off the picture as their own. Angela even provided additional pictures that proved that the picture was from a client's wedding. These are just a few more pictures from the same event. She was also willing to contact the bride of the wedding to verify that these pictures were from her event.

Now from the original picture in question in my personal opinion there is NO DOUBT that the original product is from Angela's business. The business in question that stole her picture I noticed on their Instagram timeline had cropped the majority of the bucket out of the pic and put the name of their business across the top.  They also are charging over 5 times the amount that Angela originally charges for the same item.

Word to the wise, when you are called out for your theft of someone else's product you should cease and desist your activity and offer an apology. If the original owner of the product calls you out on your shit and warns you nicely, at that point you need to back the fuck off and do some serious backpedaling to correct the obvious wrong that you made. The original owner has every right to be offended and should take anyone who steals their pictures through legal actions at the expense of the offender.

Now after my interactions with the offender on Instagram the person warns me that they will sue me for defamation. So let me give a definition of what defamation is: the action of damaging the good reputation of someone; slander or libel. More to the point, under the definition of libel: a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.

Now I want you look at that previous statement and see the parts that are bold, italized, and underlined. My statement is true and backed up by facts and more to the point your reputation is obviously not a good one if you are willing to steal from someone else. The offender went through ALOT of trouble to clean up their Instagram timeline under the questioned picture as well as change out their profile picture to their facebook page because numerous other account holders were complaining about the photo theft. If you have nothing to hide than you shouldn't be going through all the trouble of covering your tracks. Unfortunately for that business owner Angela was smart enough to take screenshots. The offender has also blocked me from seeing her Instagram page which is honestly fine by me, there was nothing in my opinion worthy to take note of. I won't mention the name of her business because I wouldn't sully my post with giving her free advertisement.

Unfortunately because of people like this Angela has to deal with correspondence from people who saw the exact picture with some other businesses name on it and they send her complaints on a product they thought was suppose to look similar to the picture and instead end up with some bullshit. Dealing with all of these other businesses takes away from her time to be able to create and fulfill orders. 

The beauty of being an entrepreneur is being able to share your gift with others. There is no problem of competing in a similar market. That is the beauty of owning a business.  For example I make whipped shea butters, I'm not the only one who does it but I make sure that my product has its own unique spin to it. I also make sure that the pictures for my business that I show on my Instagram page are my own 100% taken with my camera.  I pride myself on being an artist that is original as possible. NOBODY can say any pictures on my timeline are ripped from anyone else. To me that is just a certain standard that you should hold yourself to. 

When you rip off another artist's work and try to pass it off as your own, you can possibly blackball yourself in the market that you are trying to thrive in. You will get a reputation, but not the one you want. So think twice before giving yourself a headache. Once you steal from someone else you are not an artist. You are a thief.

Now that I have had some time to think about this subject a friend of mine who is a nationally well known makeup artist also has had this same issue. She did a wonderful job (as usual) on one of her clients and that picture of the transformation that she did on her client was so popular it was seen in a national syndicated magazine. Unfortunately some other (so called) makeup artists took the picture because it was not watermarked and started to use it and put their business names on it. Friends and clients of hers informed her whenever they saw the picture being used without her knowledge and gave the offenders hell for trying to pass off her product as their own. So she learned the hard way as well WATERMARK YOUR SHIT!!!

Also to see how much popularity the picture in question has generated. Please use the original picture and upload to Google images. You will definitely see alot of hits, especially in Pinterest. 

To Angela, thank you for providing a unique and awesome product. When I graduate from college I will definitely request a decked out diploma holder.

I would rather have some that sparkles with originality than of something that glitters with the intent of deceit.



To the thieves who make it harder for those who stay original.

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