Illustrator speaks out about copyright infringements suffered by creatives

Internationally acclaimed Illustrator Niki Groom @miss_magpie_spy, has spent months attempting to liaise with an events company, after a fan recognised her artwork being used, without permission, to advertise and promote a series of large events. 
Since instructing a specialist IP lawyer to engage directly with the company, they have continuously refused to reply and Niki has been left out of pocket, with no means of receiving fair compensation without issuing court proceedings. This same issue is faced by many illustrators, designers and photographers each year. Copyright laws are flagrantly ignored, companies benefit by using stolen work and creatives reach a point where they give up the fight and don’t name and shame, as are intimidated by the legal process and fear a defamation claim.
Niki originally licensed the hand drawn artwork to an international brand for use in in 2016. The events company then digitally altered this image and used it without engaging Niki or seeking a license, on posters, their website, flyers and on social media, where they have amassed nearly 300,000 Facebook followers. Until last month, a version of the artwork was still being used by the company to advertise an upcoming event, but has recently been replaced with an alternative. Niki has received no payment whatsoever.
On 17th October Niki released an article on her website, talking about her experience and asking the design community to rally up and help to raise awareness of the issues faced by creative freelancers when exploited by big businesses. 
“This ongoing situation has caused me a lot of stress as well as financial anxiety. It’s important that in the future creatives feel informed, confident and supported enough to challenge those infringing their copyright, and there’s a real need for businesses to understand more about how licensing artwork works too. We need to openly have these conversations and push for change. Some industry insiders have told me that it’s best to just keep quiet, for fear of a legal response, but I don’t think that’s fair or sustainable. We as freelance creatives can’t keep pretending it’s par for the course.”
To attempt to cover her financial losses, Niki will release new artwork for sale on her website on the same day that her article goes live. There will be the option of commissioning her to create bespoke artwork, as well as never seen before originals and new giclee prints. She will donate 20% of the profit from any sales over £3000 between now and Christmas to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
“It’s often really tough to take legal action, both financially and emotionally. There is a huge need for educating both creatives & clients in this area”
Patricia can den Akker – THE DESIGN TRUST


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