First of all, I do not think you're a horrible person, and I really do appreciate you writing to me. I wanted to give you a chance to respond -- which is why I didn't simply put up your name and let people "at you." So I have shown I CARE about you -- even after people cried to know your name -- but do you care about me?
NONE of us can sit here drawing for hours and hours every day to put new stamp images up if we are not being paid a livable wage. If you can't buy a stamp -- why in heaven's name would you think that gives you the moral right to steal it from me?
I am a single mum. I adopted two special needs (from abused homes) children as a single mother, and have raised them all by myself without asking anyone for anything. I couldn't work in a regular job because my kids had difficulty in regular school for many years . . . so besides trying to heal them emotionally, I had to home-school them AND try to earn enough money to keep a roof over our heads. For YEARS I slept on a couch in the living room because I couldn't afford a place with real beds for all three of us and I wanted my kids to be the ones to have the beds. Six years ago I almost died because I waited too long to go to the hospital because I couldn't afford health insurance. I am still under thousands and thousands of dollars hospital bills because of that. My youngest is 19 now -- and both kids are just out on their own . . . but my own mum is blind, has lung disease and severe arthritis so now I need to take care of her.
The only reason I'm telling you this is because I want you to understand that EVERYONE has their sad stories. In all these years I have never taken anything that wasn't mine. I would never say, hey, I can't afford to buy this music CD, so I'll go ask my friends if they can burn a copy for me. If I can't afford something I want -- I save up for it or I go without. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to do something simple like take my kids to see a movie but simply couldn't. Stamps are a luxury -- not a need. If you (or someone else) can't afford them -- you can't simply steal them. (And my images are NOT expensive. They are $3 US no matter where you live in the world because all of them are available through my digital shop.)
And here's the BIGGEST thing. Every moment that my images are up on a site like yours, people are downloading them freely. And those people who download them freely think, "Hey, it was just FREE" so they pass them along to OTHER people freely and pretty soon NO ONE needs to buy them anymore because they're available for FREE! Magnolia now has people like you taking their images and scanning them in. Here is the history of Magnolia:
1: Magnolia does popular stamps everyone loves.
2: For years people buy them and Magnolia thrives as a business
3: The Internet happens.
4: Crafters enjoy the Internet and become skilled at using computers.
5: Craft forums and Blogs become popular and crafters from all over the world meet and interact.
6: Large swap groups are formed in forums everywhere, sometimes with hundreds of participants each. People mail each other stacks of stamped images.
7. People start using printed images they have found on the internet -- mostly clip art.
8. Digital stamp companies run by solo artists start springing up.
9. Someone gets the idea to scan in their Magnolia images to make THOSE into digis they can share easily.
10. Others see the scanned in Magnolia images and scan theirs in too.
11.People start emailing each other "OOOh -- I don't have those ones!!" and scanned images exchange hands. 10s of images multiply into 100s and then 1000s.
12. SOME people decide to compile these thousands of Magnolia images on CDs and sell the collections on Ebay. Other people decide to BUY these Magnolia CDs.
13. Magnolia's profits DIP because a growing number of people are getting hold of the pirated "digi" Magnolias and don't need to buy the rubber.
14. Magnolia decides it's not worth it to put out new stamps, and there is one more company who needs to find a different product.
We're at about number 13 right now -- Magnolia is a member of my group "Stamp Out" and I happen to know they are confused, worried and not sure what to do about the theft besides GIVE UP. If this can happen to a long established company like Magnolia -- how quickly do you think it can happen to a small company like mine, or Lily of the Valley, or the Greeting Farm or Stamping Bella, Stampavie or any other. I don't think people realize most of us are small businesses barely skating by. This GROWING theft by crafters who care more that they have "this cute stamp too" than that the artist can feed their child -- is KILLING stamp companies.
I am one who will fight to the end to protect my art -- and the art of all my friends. I will be retaining a lawyer soon, because this is just going too far and in the future someone is going to need to be made an example of.
So to wrap this up, Crafter. I do believe a person can be redeemed. I'm hoping you're a person like that. I will believe your apology is sincere if you not only stop giving (AND RECEIVING) stolen images yourself -- but if you take my letter to heart and help spread the word this is wrong, wrong, wrong. It worries me that you say you have gotten my images from Photobucket but didn't give me the information to have them taken down.
Please let me know that you have understood my huge frustration is not just with you - but with all who are being "nice" by sharing when in fact you are making artists struggle (even more) to put food on their tables.
The original post of the letter is on Mo's blog here.
Thanks, Mo, for sharing this issue with us!
Since too many people don't understand the significance of sharing digi stamps, I believe that Mo has done a great job of explaining the problem so eloquently. The people that steal digis remind me of people that don't spay or neuter their pets. They say that a cat producing 2.8 kittens a liter just two times a year will be responsible for the births of 11,606,077 cats within nine years. So if one person takes just 6 digis a year and reposts them for others to take for free, they could very well be responsible for well over this number thanks to the Internet. I realize this number seems extraordinary, but I hope that it helps to explain how sharing just a few digis with others can go totally out of control in such a short time period.