I’m writing this in hopes that it may help someone else but also to document the tedious process which I’m sure I’ll be revisiting. The process of what? The process of taking down images/ products that infringe on your copyright.
As you may know, I created this BLM Skull Fist design for Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway and his Skulls for Justice campaign to reclaim the Punisher logo from law enforcement’s misguided use & fundraise for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. Due to the popularity of the image, several sites decided to steal it while the campaign was being run. How low do you have to be steal from a fundraiser?
This started my foray into issuing DMCA takedown requests. What is the DMCA? The Digital Millennium Content Act basically helps to protect people’s copyrights online. How do I know if a work I made is copyrighted? In the U.S., as seen as you make a work (unless you plagiarized), you own the copyright. Filing a copyright is a formality that grants you specific privilege of having that copyright officially recognized. Thankfully, when I created this logo it was widely publicized: as seen in The Guardian. This actually helped establish my copyright (I have also since filed officially). I also wrote about it on the blog and added it to my website, both which incorporate a copyright claim statement for original content. So if you’re making stuff and document it online, not a bad idea to add a copyright statement to your about/info page.
The other thing I have working for me is lawyers. It’s nice to have counsel on retainer. This was advice I learned early on. If you’re thinking, how much is a lawyer? I use Counsel for Creators. The service is $95 a month and they have a flexible scheduling appointment system. I can easily set up calls to discuss my issues and receive advice as well as send emails!
You may or may have seen these jokers (Rageon, Teepublic, Prideearth) who stole my design during the BLM fundraiser. I was able to take to get them to take down the design within 48 hours- which takes us to the process of doing a DMCA request. I was lucky enough to have publicity, lawyers & Gerry Conway on my side but what if I was just an indie creator without those things? I’d still follow the same method.
First things first, there are bots that apparently troll social media & campaign sites like Custom Ink or Bonfire, looking to steal popular designs. So, caveat emptor if you’re looking to sell your designs online. When this design hit, I was hoping it would do well, but the response has been overwhelming. So thanks to all that supported!
When thieves like this pop up, your first line of defense is to search for a mechanism to submit a DMCA takedown request. Usually, you can find it under the “Contact Us” or “legal” link. In some cases, you may have to issue a request yourself through a basic contact form. If you don’t see any of these options, search for “legal@” or “dmca@” the web address.
Filing the request, whether by form or email submission, generally needs to contain the same info. You need to state that you’re the copyright holder of the design and that the site/a user on the site does not have permission to use that design and is infringing on your copyright. You will then have to establish your ownership over the copyright: case number of your copyright filing, your intellectual property (IP) appearing somewhere officially with a date. The date is important as it establishes provenance. (Things I learn watching American Pickers, amirite?). This is also where having a lawyer comes in handy because you can inform the site/user that your lawyers are copied and/or are aware of the matter. You will have to attest to all the facts being true. Sites like ebay have a very specific email format and codes to use.
The DMCA takedown request doesn’t stop there. You should screengrab the offender a) to document and b) to publicly denounce their actions. Post about them everywhere. Tag them. Then go in and message them a DMCA takedown request on every social media platform they exist on with screengrabs. It sounds a bit scorched- earth but persistence is key…and annoyance. You mean business.
I ran a new campaign at Bonfire for the design and it got stolen again. This new round of thieves was interesting. As mentioned before, ebay is very specific about their NOCI/ Notice of Copyright infringement. They rejected me twice. However, I personally reached out to the seller and they removed my design. Kind of a “Thanks for nothing, eBay. ” That’s coming from a buyer/ seller with 100% feedback after 20+ years.
This group of offenders was tougher to deal with and included Teechip, Moteefe and knock-off Moteefeshirts and Tumblrshirt. Teechip/goteeshirt/Simi Tee/Reddit Tee responded after a couple tries.
Now let’s talk about scorched earth (funny yet sad because I’m Vietnamese and so are some of the people that stole from me). This all happened around Thanksgiving weekend and just resolved today. Moteefeshirt & Tumblrshirt (same company as far as I can tell and based in Vietnam) process their transactions through Checkoutshirt (based in the U.S. as payment processor with the page also hosted in Vietnam). As you can tell by the screengrabs, I had already gone through the aforementioned processes.
However, Moteefeshirt & Tumblrshirt offered no valid means of communication by which to submit DMCA takedown requests. So I dug.
Doing a Whois/Icann search allowed me to track down domain registrars and ISP hosts. Through the screengrabs, you can see I tracked down GMO Internet, Tenten, Hostingrocket and Cloudflare as all tied in by usage. Cloudflare and Hostingrocket are American companies so that helps. Tenten doesn’t host, but they could forward messages to their client. GMO never responded. I recall they claim to be one of Japan’s largest ISP/ domain retailers, so maybe one day they’ll face a whale instead of a guppy like me.
My friend, Anthony Pollock of Sodaandtelepaths.com, suggested I look to see whether Moteefeshirt & Tumblrshirt accepted Paypal as it would be a violation of their terms. I never thought to click to buy shirts to check card processing services. Anthony told me, hit ’em where it hurts as these overseas companies rely on payment processing. Thank the stars for people way more knowledgeable than me.
Sure enough, Paypal was an option and they did indeed have a reporting mechanism. Find it here. In fact, it appears most credit card companies do this as well. I only had to add Visa and American Express to the mix.
The bad faith operators that Moteefeshirt and/or Tumblrshirt process their payments through Checkoutshirt which uses Hostingrocket. If these sites have infringed on your copyrights, here are the email addresses I used to contact them: email@example.com (I added firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com to see if they might work), firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Stephanie@hostingrocket.com (which I discovered through this post), firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, & firstname.lastname@example.org. Just as a heads up, I also informed tumblr that their name (which I imagine is trademarked) was being used.
Here’s where I’m at now. I hope this was a good resource for anyone out there that has to deal with copyright infringement; especially, if it’s with these sites I’ve documented in particular.
I know I don’t post as often as should, but that’s a good thing as I’ve been busy with projects. I thank you for hanging around and checking in on my blog every so often. Your company is greatly appreciated.
As you know, 2020 has been wild to say the least. Most of the time, it has been truly heartbreaking. I lost a good friend before the pandemic hit. I think about him in particular now because the Dodgers are in the World Series and he was a huge fan. He was also an amazing artist and we would have had a lot more conversations about this year.
I had my largest convention schedule planned for this year but COVID-19 took care of that. It was going to be a lot of firsts for me. Surprisingly, other opportunities have presented themselves. As you know, I was honored to be a part of Gerry Conway’s Skulls for Justice campaign.
Since then, I’ve had the privilege of doing a sketchcard set for Marvel & Upper Deck’s Marvel Anime trading card series. I started posting them on Twitter & I guess someone in Japan found the Venom card already. I’m fanning out that I’m in a set where Peach Momoko is the headline artist. Insane! Here’s a look at all of my cards:
I’ve also been working quite a bit with my friend Mike Korpi. He’s an amazing writer and I wanted to bring his stories to life. You may remember we were in Wannabe Press ‘ Cthulhu is Hard to Spell: The Terrible Twos right before the pandemic hit.
We now have an opportunity for a comic book anthology hat trick. Our second and third anthologies are live now on Kickstarter. The first one is from the creator collective we belong to: the Sketchy Bug Group. The book is called Danger Arcade and features 10 stories by 21 creators plus pinups. Click here to check out the campaign! The cover is by Mike Penn from Heavy Metal magazine. Ed Dukeshire (from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers & Hulk) is doing letters for some of the stories, including ours! Our project was recently backed by BOOM! Studios as part of their 100 First-time Comic Kickstarter Campaigns initiative. We have 2 weeks left to fund and we’re almost at 50%! I hope you’ll consider it.
Mike and I are also in great company with a horror anthology that we’re a part of called Nightmare Theater. This campaign just launched today and is over halfway funded. It features a ton of phenomenal talent like Ringo Award-Winners Rylend Grant (Banjax, Abberant), David Pepose (the O.Z., Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel), David Avallone (Bettie Page, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Drawing Blood), Terry Mayo (Wicked Righteous) and many more. It’s insane. The book is over 200 pages! Mike and I have a story in it we’re sure you’ll love and I did a pinup.
I hope you enjoy these amazing projects. If you support any of them, sounds off below and let me know! If you find any of my sketchcards, let me know!
The comic book creator & fan group In a part of is doing an anthology! It’ll center around a theme of danger and adventure and will bring talents both old and new. We have a cover (seen here) from Heavy Metal illustrator Mike Penn! We also have industry talent that have been involved with projects from IDW, Boom, Marvel, DC and more! We also have indie, Kickstarter and underground comics represented. There’s a little something for everybody!
Yours truly is on the project with talented writer Mike Korpi again. If you enjoyed Cthulhu is Hard to Spell: The Terrible Twos, come join us October 5th. We will also be a part of a third anthology that I’ll update info on soon!
Thanks for stopping by! First, my store is updated on Etsy and is now officially rebranded as Nguyening It! It also means I won’t be taking the time to do any needlefelting in the foreseeable future. Never say never though, right?
I’ll be getting magnets and possibly some original art up as well. I don’t know where Comic Con at Home will take me, but you don’t know unless you try and put forth some effort right?
So, two weeks ago I answered the call put out by Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway about a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter & a campaign to reclaim the Punisher logo from Law Enforcement.
Gerry reached out and asked to do a logo inspired by the Punisher skull, maintain the white skull on black background motif, add a red tear and incorporate Black Lives Matter. Here’s what I came up with & the response has been overwhelming.
Please visit the link above if you’d like to support.
Here are the process sketches for the design.
Also, check out this article from the Guardian! https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jun/11/how-do-you-stop-the-far-right-using-the-punisher-skull-make-it-a-black-lives-matter-symbol
I’ve been posting primarily to IG & Twitter but I didn’t want to leave my longtime blogosphere people out. So, I thought I’d post some highlights here. I hope everyone is safe and well during this pandemic. Also, you can still pickup a free digital of Pablo the Gorilla at AltFCD or Alt-Free Comic Day until the end of today. If you enjoy it, don’t forget to nominate it for the Ringo Awards at Ringoawards.com for all applicable categories!
Now for some original art!
I previewed some character sketches for a project I was doing with my friend Mike Korpi. Well, I actually finished that piece but I’m going to be showing you that work here. As you may know, Wannabe Press’s Cthulu Is Hard to Spell: the Terrible Twos funded and is headed to production. Amazing people are still supporting art and creativity in this time. It’s a tough time for the world right now. A lot of people are hurting. I hope artwork and stories can help alleviate some if the anxiety and give people escape. As always, thanks for being here.
ICYMI, people were offended by being called boomers last week. I saw “Boomer” trending and thought it was an Oklahoma thing but apparently it’s the millennial counter employed toward the Boom generation’s constant derision and scoffing of their beliefs (did I get that right? ). So, let me get this right (not taking sides), Boomers constantly taunt millennials but then are upset by being called what their generation is known as? I’m a bit lost. However, I’m pretty sure I read that comic and it’s Silver Surfer 😂.
Did this for a Pablo the Gorilla Kickstarter sketch reward.
I think someone will be pleasantly surprised when they get this. The 2 most popular requests for sketches were Pablo and “surprise me. ” Lol.