Much of my wire work is very distinctive, I mean you gotta know its mine, anyone who knows my work will recognise it immediately. Not only have these pieces been blogged about, featured on other websites and in galleries, published in magazines both here in Australia and the United States, but heck, won an award or too and travelled this country on display.
I'm sending a loud wake up call to jewellery and lapidary competition organisers.
Start paying more attention to the "Terms and Conditions of Entry" from a legal and copyright point of view. If you're a judge, you're supposed to know about the work, technique and style you're judging, you should also know if the work is original, particularly if you know your subject.
Do you not realise that there are people out there blatantly copying the work of others and then passing it off as their own and you are encouraging them by awarding them a prize, a placing or even acknowledging them. Put them where they belong, disqualify and ban them for life. If you can't do that then give the job to some-one who can. After all these people are cheats and thieves with no natural artistic talent of their own, let alone a vivid imagination. Obviously, one thing they are good at is searching the Internet or Magazines for images, printing and studying them with a magnifying glass. Some talent!
Sure everyone looks at others designs for inspiration, but changing the colours of a bead or moving them about does not let them off the copyright hook. Rules of copyright also extend to asking the original designer for permission to recreate his or her work and the reasons why you want to do this. If you do not have written permission then don't do it. The designer might sue. If you do have permission then you must also reference the original designer. There are also people out there who will reference the designer, without permission to recreate. These are the sneaky low lifes that annoy me. You also cannot manufacture copyrighted work for resale. Nor should you enter copyrighted work into competitions, because its not your own original work and you'll more than likely be breaching the Terms and Conditions of Entry. If you want to be treated fairly, then play nice, afterall I'm sure you wouldn't want anyone doing this to you.
To those beading comp organisers don't sit there and tell us designers its between you and the thief. You want to publish or display so called winning, unoriginal work in a public arena, then be prepared to be kicked in the butt, because I gonna be on your tail from now on.
I'm interested to hear what others have to say on this topic, so if you're reading this, feel free to leave your thoughts under the comment link below.