Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cease and Desist... really?

So as some of you may know, I make a rather incidental amount of money making and selling some crafts through an Etsy store. Many of the things I've created are made with cuttings from books, comics, etc and to the best of my knowledge the exposure of my site has been marginal at best.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email today from a lawyer in wisconsin on behalf of the estate of Shel Silverstein asking me to cease and desist with my unauthorized use of copyrighted images 'including but not limited to light switch plates'.

Yes, the catalyst for all of this was a seven-dollar switch plate that i had made using a couple of pages of "A Light In The Attic", my copy of which had been all but destroyed by two little girls who took a while to learn how to properly handle books.

Let me first say that I get copyright laws and why they are in place, but this still saddens me, mainly because my motivation for making this (and two other items, another plate and a coaster set, which had previously sold) were mainly because I am a huge fan of Mr. Silverstein and I knew others could appreciate this kind of nostalgia as much as I do. Being told to cease and desist is disturbing just in that it makes it sound like I acted in malice with the sole motivation of bilking the Mr. Silverstein's descendants out of a lousy seven bucks. Twenty if you count the previously sold items.

I think I'd be more sympathetic if it were the artist himself sending an official letter via lawyer as a way of saying "Hey, miss, this is my work.. not cool.' To which I could have said "My apologies.. my intent was to honor rather than devalue your work." Because it's the estate making the complaint I am irked. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe because I have a vision of some guy being hired to randomly google keywords that may be linked to Mr. Silverstein's work. Perhaps it's because I dislike the idea of someone laying claim to something based solely on the fact that they share some DNA with the genius who had created it.

At any rate.. the listing has been pulled from the site. I considered writing to ask permission to use the images, but I figured for the trouble, I'd just pull the listing, and put it up in my own kitchen, since frankly, I like it. And some small part of me thinks that Mr. Silverstein, where-ever he may be now, would like it too.


  1. I honestly thought this was going to be about Marvel's high-and-mighties reaching down from on high to smite you with Mjolnir, which would have been a lot cooler than what actually happened, haha. Yeah, I don't blame you for being irked at the estate, though.

  2. ehh.. I'm waiting for it.. but then again, they're a disney-owned corporation now, and maybe I'm too small-fry to really be of any concern in the grand scheme of the Marvel Universe.

  3. But really is it coptright? its not like you redrew it or anything, you took what he had publised and cut it up and adhered it to light covers. I would understand if you were scanning the images and making large qunatities...then they would be loosing out on royalities. Its just crazy. I mean really is it any different then if you had just sold the book at a garage sale..is that against copyright?

  4. Actually it would have been more legal if I had hand-drawn the images, i could then have argued that it was a 'reproduction'. I dunno.. copyright laws are confusing as hell. I thought the same, that I might be covered under derivative use, but meh. It's a lot of hassle to fight over a lousy seven bucks. Live and Learn.

  5. Actually, no one's too small for Disney. I remember a few years back when they sued a daycare facility for having Mickey Mouse et.al. all over their outside walls.


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