Friday, December 25, 2015

How to send a DMCA takedown to Amazon

If you do have a copyright infringement, I do not recommend using their form, apart from then not having a copy of your takedown yourself, you will more than likely get a reply back with one of the following:

They can't delete it as it's a permanent copy in their detail page or catalog.
They can't identify the image (even though you've given them the URL)
It's a matter of contract between distributors and manufacturers.
They send you guidelines of how to submit a notice.
They say they've deleted it but when you check they haven't.

If you're sending a takedown for an image infringement that you haven't uploaded yourself, and followed the DMCA format with all the correct links, all of these answers are incorrect. I don't know if it's lack of training or just being swamped with takedowns, but it's not good! Amazon's form fails for the following reasons:

You don't get a copy of your complaint back by email (so no proof or record).
There is no way to attach images for proof of copyright.
Even if you tick that you're not an Amazon seller, they can still get that wrong (that's when you'll get the "detail page" reply.
If the product is unavailable but still shows your image, at first glance when you put in the URL or ASIN you don't see the images, you have to select "specific images" from the dropdown.

Even if you send by email you can still get a similar reply. Some people have had more success sending a pdf attachment of the takedown as well as the email.

Be prepared to send a takedown several times! Several of mine have taken 8 weeks of going round in circles to remove. Also, you have to send separate takedowns for different domains, even if they have the same ASIN! Why, when the actual image is hosted in the same location on Amazon's servers?

Meanwhile there is a petition here for all you designers that have had work stolen and put on Amazon:
https://www.change.org/p/amazon-com-remove-product-listings-that-sell-stolen-artwork-shut-down-stores-that-violate-the-seller-agreement-with-regard-to-intellectual-property-rights-and-have-a-better-vetting-process-in-place-to-approve-sellers?

And don't forget to read this blog http://amazon-ipprotection.weebly.com/blog/archives/09-2015


So anyway, they've had several replies from me, ranging from fairly calm to really annoyed now:
WHICH PART OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?

I did also send a link to my blog and Amazon has kindly paid a few visits, Edit, and now removed the images. Thank you! And, I've also tidied up my post as I was VERY angry at Amazon yesterday. Their form is supposed to make life easier, but it doesn't.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Counterfeits on Amazon

My, they have been busy. I'm now up to a total of 38 DMCAs, mostly pillows. For the time being I seem to have beaten mine, so now I'm informing other designers. If you ARE a designer with a pirated design, please follow through and get your design removed, we have to stamp this out! I'm sorry if you have been informed by me that your design has been stolen, but I'm only the messenger, and for those of you that really can't be bothered, you're making it worse for the rest of us. One of my latest appropriated designs was this, and it's really annoying because I spent an awful lot of post processing time on this one! A charolais calf in a field with the herd in the background - this is the real one, the other has gone.
The seller of my stolen design sent me a lovely email:
This is Happy Shops in Amazon, we received a notification about infringe your intellectual property rights. We're really sorry for that, we'll delete the item at once that is relevant with yours (B011OCJFUI ) In fact, we have no idea that the item is belong to any one's intellectual property rights. We're so innocent, just use that image because it is popular. Hope you could understand, and we promise we will not sell that again, and if possible, please inform all the designs that belong to you, we'll never infringe yours again in the future. Could you please kindly email to Amazon to withdraw the complaint through (notice@amazon.com)? Thank you in advance! Christmas is coming, Hope you help to me kindly Looking forward to hearing from you. Merry Christmas!!

 To which I of course replied:
Dear Happy Shops Sorry, but no. You have an awful lot of other people’s designs in your shop, and I will also be letting these designers know. This has got to stop, Amazon is riddled with copyright theft. I’m sure you can all find enough images elsewhere without stealing them from Zazzle, RedBubble and Society6, and it’s YOU who should be taking care that they’re not stolen. You have all been taking money out of our pockets. But have a Merry Christmas too!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Can you trust all Amazon sellers?

No, and Amazon is making a profit out of it! It's a nice idea, you can get a pillow with my designs from Amazon at a fraction of the normal price. But wait a minute, is it authentic? No. Some unscrupulous Chinese sellers have decided that every designer at Zazzle is fair game, they download an image of the design, and print them. Great, you get a pillow cheap, the designer doesn't get their royalty, no big deal right? Here is a review from someone who bought one of those pillows:
http://amazon-ipprotection.weebly.com/
Amazon, you are aiding these criminals by allowing them to sell on your platform. It has got to stop.

One of the dead giveaways is customisation. This pillow has initials that you can actually change

This one does not: ArtColor - stealer of my designs
Though hopefully it will be gone by the time you read this blog. Some of my others that have been stolen. If you bought one of these from Amazon you have been ripped off:
A final word to Amazon. You are responsible. You make profit from any sale, perhaps you'd like to pass those on as compensation for my lost sales!
Update: Amazon responded to my first 6 DMCAs saying they will remove the offending images. Since then I've discovered another 21

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Natural patterns foxgloves for the home

Introducing my Natural Patterns store whose raison d'ĂȘtre is my love of flowers, photography and my love of making patterns, It's not all photography, and not all flowers, though that is for a later post. Being a keen gardener with a preference for wild flowers, these are my first and foremost subjects of choice, so to start with, the humble foxglove.
A foxglove has immense benefits for health with it's digitalis for heart problems, of course that makes it a dangerous plant - you don't want to chew the leaves or flowers! I'm amazed by the number of potentially harmful plants that are available for gardens. I've only just managed to eradicate some aconitum, or monkshood, which was growing here when we moved in. Now that we have dogs, it's a risk I can't take, pretty though they are. But back to foxgloves. I love the way the flower colours range from white in the unopened buds to a spotty lilac purple when open. They seed themselves everywhere, and none of the animals are interested in them, so they are allowed to carry on. Bumblebees love them, and the sight of the majestic flower spikes in June means that summer is just around the corner.
The photo above shows the pattern and the photo that made it, something I hope to repeat throughout this blog.It's not as simple as just putting a photo into a pattern making machine, I often spend hours getting it to look just right. The parameters for making patterns are infinite! I settled on several patterns, and this square is the one I finally decided would look best.
So I hope this collection of foxglove patterns for the home will find it's way into the home of a gardener or wildflower enthusiast somewhere. The design is available on tablecloths and accessories, with more to be added later.

Natural patterns foxgloves
Natural patterns foxgloves
by RuralFrance
Foxgloves colour palette
 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fractal flowers

Fractal daisies
Close-up detail
After several solid days and a steep learning curve, I think I'm beginning to get to grips. It's not easy! When you have about ten layers, changing one layer can alter things dramatically, it's the unpredictability that makes it hard work. But still, I had a look around the internet at fractal flowers and thought, I'd like to do something like that. So, exploring various formulae and transformations, I came up with this, which I'm quite proud of! It consist of 8 layers, all the same formula but with different parameters, and using combinations of hard light, soft light and multiply, with some transparency in several layers.

The flowers are a combination of daisy like settings on a flower trap, in shades of delicate pink with a darker green for the foliage, with fine lines curving over the background of pastel blue-green and lilac. It started off as an idea for a Christmas design but evolved into this, simple but, I think, effective. I liked the corner idea as it left plenty of room for text on invitations and cards. Here it is on a wedding invitation:

and looks equally at home on cushions and pillows:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fractal frolics - Ultra Fractal 5

Two styles of fractals
Last year I bought a copy of Ultra Fractal, but didn't have much time to play with it. Now I have and I'm just discovering the infinite possibilities. I'm not maths oriented by any means so it's a question of pushing buttons until I see what I like.

The software has a vast range of formulae and transformations - some I only just discovered this week! It also has layers, with all the overlay modes, so you can combine different formulae, colours and transformations. There is probably more but I've only just started. Large size or complicated fractals can be rendered in tiles to stitch together later.
The first finished one I rendered in December last year is a curly tentacle-like pattern with background shading that gives it some depth, so it looks like a writhing sea monster waking up in the ocean depths - or is that just my vivid  imagination? It's a simple single layer fractal in two colours, which I decided to change the colours later in Photoline.

These, I think, look particularly good on cushions and iPad cases. They were made using the Pheonix (Julia) formula with Triangle Inequality Average outside (these terms mean nothing to me, but may be of use to someone!)
Fractal tentacles throw pillows Yellow blue black swirls fractal iPad air cases

Appropriately just in time for Christmas, I've discovered how to make some very attractive fractal snowflakes, with shading on blue that makes them look cold and icy.
They are again single layers, both using Newton2 formula with Orbit Traps and Kaleidoscope mapping set to a symmetry of 6, one using Waves and the other Lines trap shapes. I'm finding it fascinating, and sometimes frustrating, how zooming in on different sections gives a completely different look.

Icy snowflake stylized pattern greeting card Icy fractal snowflake greeting card

Still using the same formula, but with no mapping this time is a lacy white fractal wedding invitation, using Mirrored Waves and a cube root transfer function. This gives it a soft floaty effect which reminded me of a bride's veil with a lacy and sparkly edge. The last purple wedding invitation is my favourite so far. It's a 3 layer fractal using the Slope (Scaled Ikegana Newton) formula and Unroll Cardioid mapping, the bottom layer using Orbit traps gradient (UF5), second layer Lighting, and top layer Minimum Functions. Of course there are many other variables involved such as colour gradient, zooming, transfer functions. This one reminds me of peacocks, perhaps two birds circling each other, as the central motif has an eye like a peacock feather, with blue and yellow tints - only a small section of it is on the invitation, the complete version is on the canvas below.
Blue and white fractal wedding 5x7 paper invitation card Purple fractal peacock feather wedding 5x7 paper invitation card
Designs available on greeting cards, pillows, canvasses and more

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dog Christmas, birthday and get well greeting cards

One of the many nice things about being owned by a dog, is the photo opportunities. Having had dogs all my life, and being dogless for 10 years, I decided my new other half had better get used to me having dogs again. I was determined not to have a puppy and go through all the puddles, chewed shoes, teething and sleepless nights that ensue, so off we trotted to the local shelter. Here in this part of France it's SPA Creuse.

This being rural hunting country, many of the dogs are hunting breeds. We looked around them all - some tiny terriers, some hounds built like horses, some with massive problems that perhaps I could cope with but not keep a marriage intact at the same time. I also wanted a male, for some reason I prefer them. We couldn't see one that said "take me home", so in desperation one of the volunteers said "we've got some puppies". OK, I'll just take a look, I thought. So here is Raffles:
Take me home!

How could I resist the waggy tail and licky tongue. He was 4 months old, and his papers say he's a Griffon Korthals though he looks nothing like one, I'm inclined to think there's more Bleu de Gascogne in him (wiki). He certainly has the same markings but his ears are tiny in comparison.

I decided to go for crate training from the start. Some people seem to think it's cruel, but getting a dog used to a crate is a real boon. If you do it right, it's a safe haven for them, and if they have to stay at the vets or be contained on a car journey, they're already used to it - in fact, more often than not, he sleeps in his crate with the door open.

The first few nights, as expected, there was a bit of crying, but I slept on the settee and he soon settled down. House training was super easy - he just doesn't want to go on his own territory. Teething was another matter, it was a whole year before he grew out of play biting.

Training has been a bit hit and miss, a) because I can't devote much time to it, and b) being a scent hound he has an incredibly high prey drive. I doubt if I'll ever be able to let him off lead safely in an area that's not fenced, because he's just off after a deer, a boar, a bird, a leaf, a spider...! So, he'll come when he's called, maybe, if there are no distractions, he can sit, lie down, roll over, give alternate paws and weave in between my legs.
Leave!
He'll leave a kibble placed on his paw, but just try to get him to give up a dead mouse! He does get a run in the woods in the summer, when he's hot and not so energetic, but he'll still disappear for 20 minutes. One major problem we had with him was him wanting to chase cars - it's a fear thing, he's not very brave. It took me 18 months of feeding a treat and making him sit when a car came past to stop him lunging at it. He's almost cured of it now.

Ginny
Two years on, we decided it would be nice for him, and he was mature enough, to have a girlfriend (neutered), so we went back to SPA and found Ginny. I think she's a Patterdale terrier, or at least a mix of that breed. I was worried that she might be a bit small for our bull-in-a-china-shop Raffles, but they get on famously, and Ginny usually has the upper hand. She's a real sweetie but with a high prey drive again, so she's either full on or in couch potato mode. Couch potato wins most of the time! She was about 3 when she arrived, and apart from one wee on the floor in the first few days, and pulling like a tank engine on walks, she's been no trouble at all.

We have a very small fenced garden, so they rely on their walks to let off steam. We're lucky enough to have a fenced paddock that we keep for hay, so for most of the year they can chase each other round to their hearts' content, and dig for voles which is their other hobby.

Winter can be a tricky time for keeping dogs occupied. One game we devised that works for us, is
putting some kibble inside a box, sometimes inside a box inside a box. It satisfies the chewing habit, needs a bit of brain power, and is fun for the humans too! It helps if you drink beer. You can also use empty loo rolls folded at the ends. Another 'game' involving food is throwing kibbles - it's a bit more tricky with two dogs as they have to be thrown in opposite directions. Raffles get's his thrown up the stairs while Ginny charges around the kitchen after hers. If the weather is dry, I throw a handful of kibbles onto the lawn - it takes them a little while to find them all in the grass. There are all sorts of variations - if your dog is sensible with plastic, you can put some kibble in a plastic bottle, but be warned, it's extremely noisy on a hard floor! Before Ginny came along, I used to let Raffles outside, then hide treats on various ledges around the house - good for teaching them to look for something.

Back to photos, dogs are characters, each with their own funny little ways, and if there's one thing that Raffles has got in spades, it's pathos, which makes him very suitable for get well and 'sorry' cards. Here is a selection with Raffles and Ginny, including Christmas cards, and some other dogs as well. Photographing dogs romping in the snow can be quite tricky, especially with a black dog on white snow, it took many many photos to get these few!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ongoing W-8BEN saga

I mentioned previously a certain tax debacle. Zazzle is one of many print on demand companies in the US, and on the 13th June, some of us received an email saying our W-8BEN forms needed to be updated or we would have 30% tax withheld on our royalties. I say some, as apparently many designers did not receive this email - a nasty shock in store for them when they have tax withheld on their next payment!

In spite of the fact that my own form was approved, many have not been, and I have to say I'm disappointed with the lack of information and help that has been given to designers by Zazzle. First of all, we were required to obtain an ITIN, no mean feat if you're a foreigner in a foreign land! Then we were told we didn't need to have a letter from Zazzle to apply for one. In fact, I eventually received a letter from Zazzle (thank you!), however I am not going to get an ITIN, and here's why.

Many members of the Facebook group mentioned below, having previously contacted the IRS and been told no ITIN was required, decided to approach the competent tax treaty authorities in various countries. The UK's HMRC came up trumps with a contact for an official at the US embassy's IRS section. Consequently, a letter was received stating once and for all that the IRS do NOT require an ITIN. It does say that Zazzle are within their rights to ask for one, but the point was, that it's not an IRS requirement!

I hope this post helps other people who are caught up in ITIN or withholding tax wrangles, and not just those at Zazzle.

A large group was formed on Facebook to discuss these events. If you're a non-US Zazzler you're welcome to join us, but please have something on your FB page for us to link you to Zazzle, it's very hard to distinguish who's who otherwise!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Zippi Tote Bag - review


I received my sample tote bag in the post today, 5 days including printing, and a weekend, from the UK to France - pretty good!

Made of recycled PET (a type of polyester), though you wouldn’t believe it as it has a wonderfully soft cotton feel to it, and feels strong as well. The comfortable handles are long enough to slip over a shoulder. I tested it for weight and volume with items from my store cupboard, and it comfortably held:
550g box of cereal,  1.5l bottle of lemonade, 3 x 225g tins of pineapple, and 2 x 415g tins of baked beans
The total weight was about 4.5 kilos. I’m not sure I’d want to carry that much weight in it too often though it certainly felt strong enough. That makes it ideal for popping down to the corner shop or to the library, or to take a thick jumper and a shirt if you’re going out somewhere and not sure of the weather.

The print of my dark blue clematis design is very true to colour, though appears lighter due to the limitations of printing on fabric - you can see in the close-up that the white grain of the bag shows through and lightens the overall colours, but still it's a very clear print.

These bags are available for the sale price of £8.99 at the moment, reduced from £9.99, with several thousand designs to choose from (including mine!), or you can easily make your own with a favourite photo. If you’re looking for an ethically produced tote, you can’t go far wrong with these.

A very nicely made and useful bag - thank you Zippi!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bags of Love

Bags of Love looks like an interesting prospect. For a start, it's the only print on demand company I've seen so far where you can actually design matching sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases. UK based, they have a large range of products from fabrics, kitchen and home furnishings, gifts for the person who has everything, electronics cases, pet beds, bowls and leads, a good range of clothing and more. What is especially good is the number of products with all-over printing. Not the cheapest, but reasonable European postage costs and potential quality make up for that.

There is talk of designer shops being available soon, so watch this space. In the meantime, go along and have a look, upload a favourite photo, and design your own gifts!

When I can decide what to buy, I will purchase one of my own designs and write a review here, so watch this space.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zippi, print on demand in the UK




Dark blue art nouveau clematis pattern close-up
Having recently joined Zippi, a UK print on demand company, as a designer, I was pleased to see two sales - one for an iphone skin and one for a tote bag. Let's hope it's the start of bigger things!

The tote bag design is one I redrew from a vintage illustration, in vector format which makes it easy to change colours. The design is a stylised clematis with twining leaves and flowers with parallel border lines, made into a pattern. This one is a square pattern with a dark blue background and lighter blue leaves with orange brown flowers.

The totes are made from recycled material and measure 41cm x 37cm, and printed on both sides.

This design is also available on messenger bags, phone and laptop skins and cases, mugs, mousemats, coasters and placemats, keyrings, t-shirts, canvasses and even jigsaws.

Dark blue clematis square Tote Bag

Zippi's products are made in their Southampton base in the UK, which make them ideal for European delivery, though their worldwide shipping costs are also very reasonable.

This design is available in four other colours at present: Light green with orange brown flowers, light beige with blue flowers, dark brown with violet flowers, and dark green with violet flowers.
See all products with this design

Please see the whole range of designs in my portfolio here

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Art of Where

As part of my branching out exercise I've signed up with ArtofWhere, a Canadian company. I just wish I was a bit younger as I'd love some of their dresses, but they've still got cushions and scarves, leggings, and phone cases. The upload systems is a bit time consuming as you have to upload an image for each range of products, and they can be quite large files. They do two styles of dresses - flare and bodycon (which is a figure hugging style).
This is a design of indigo blue shaded stripes in a diagonal flowing pattern on the flare style dress. Just my colour! You can see all my designs here


Judy Adamson's Art & Design Blog: Egyptian Patterns, a New Venture and International...



Judy Adamson's Art & Design Blog: Egyptian Patterns, a New Venture and International...:     One of my Screen Prints from the late 1980s! Sadly, it's been next to impossible to do anything remotely creative this month, ...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rest of the world PODs

For PODs read print on demand companies. Zazzle was lovely, but due to various US tax shenanigans, I've decided to look for "rest of the world" outlets. So far, I've signed up with;

Redbubble, an Australian company offering electronics cases, clothing, "pillows" (why can't they call them cushions?), duvet covers, prints and a few other products.
https://www.pinterest.com/ruralbusiness/rainbow-pixels-on-redbubble/

Zippi, a UK based company offering similar items but sadly without the home furnishings, though I believe cushions might be on the cards.
https://www.pinterest.com/ruralbusiness/rainbow-pixels-on-zippi/

Woven Monkey, UK again and my favourite so far, is print on demand fabric. I well remember the days of buying fabric in a shop - like the design but not the colour, like the colour but not the design. I love making patterns so this suits me well. https://www.pinterest.com/ruralbusiness/rainbow-pixels-on-woven-monkey/
I've uploaded a range of designs from modern digital to vintage, so please come along and have a look!

Unfortunately I haven't worked out how to get image links from any of these yet, but the year is young! What I really need, however is a freelance designer based POD printing business cards and other paper goods - they seem to be very much in short supply - a niche for you European printers?