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Stolen artwork: What is the root issue?

You keep a close eye on the art scene that you work in, so it does not take you long to find out that someone stole some of your work. You discover that they're selling products with your art on it. Maybe they're making book covers, t-shirts, wall prints or a whole host of other products.

This happens to artists all the time, but that does not make it right. That artwork is yours and it is copyrighted as such. If they're making money off of it, that's harming you and cutting into your own potential earnings. In short, it's theft.

It may not be that simple, though. One of the first steps you should take is to figure out the root issue. For instance:

  • Did they steal a digital file of your exact artwork that you posted online?
  • Was your idea stolen and copied exactly, meaning they engaged in plagiarism and also stole your intellectual property?
  • Maybe they just felt inspired by your work and made a piece of their own, but you think it's so close to yours that it might as well be a copy.
  • Even though the inspiration is obvious, did they create a unique piece that is all their own?

Once you know what happened, you can decide what steps to take. If they copied your intellectual property or stole from you directly, you may have legal options to get them to stop selling your work and pay you for the damage that they caused. The law is on your side and you can resolve this frustrating situation.

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Costello Law Corporation
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Roseville, CA 95661

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