Saturday, August 18, 2012

Grandin Theft (UPDATED)

You might remember my rant regarding Grandin Road selling Grim's Cloaked Ghost design...

His:


Theirs:




Looks like they're selling another product "inspired" by someone's work.

Here's the original design by artist William Bezek.

The clothing:


The faces:


Here's the Grandin Road offering:



More information at the artist's blog. (DEAD LINK)

And thanks, wicKED, for the heads up on this.


UPDATED 8/18: I've updated this blog post to include another image of Bezek's, showing without a doubt that his design has been stolen. Grandin Road threatened him with legal action so he has removed his original blog post. They claim they are not responsible for the theft, but merely ordered the product from another company. Which probably is the case.

But it's still just as disgusting.

Do the right thing, Grandin Road. Contact the supplier and let them know you won't be ordering from them next year due to this bullshit.

Yeah, I didn't think so.



Any Halloween-loving lawyers out there?


62 comments:

joy said...

the originals are SO much better.
Still...it is sad that you almost have to patent your designs! I believe that your cloaked ghost was inspiration for Grim's...wasn't it?
joy

Rot said...

It's an ugly spot to be in. They know we don't have unlimited funds to fight something like this.
Lawyer fees are $300 an hour.

The sad part is that for these big companies the commission payment is 5% on WHOLESALE price (not retail) so we're not even talking about them losing a ton of money by paying the creator. It's just PURE GREED. They want it all.

Yep. Grim's cool ghost is based on my Cloaked Ghost from 2007.

And no one will ever convince me that Grandin didn't directly rip off his design.

Jay's Shadow said...

That is just insane. Their's don't even look good. Looks so cheaply made. I'm surprised that we haven't seen your witch jars yet.

The least they could do is contact the person and offer them a little something and give them credit on the web site.

Terrormaster said...

"Good artists copy, great artists steal." - Picaso (and later quoted by Steve Jobs)

Haunting and technology are my two biggest hobbies (the later is what puts the bread on the table). As I've been following the Apple vs Samsung legal battle for the last weeks this general topic hits home in more ways than one. I'm no fan of Apple at all and their crazy broad patents and patent trolling are by far the worse in the industry. But, IMHO, they have a case against Samsung. The original Galaxy phone line was very obviously trying to make their iteration of Android look like iPhones with only slightly different dress.

The same is true here with Grandin. These designs are blatant copies of Grim's and Bezek's work. Oh the fabrics might be different but the source is obvious. Bezek's is a little less obvious though than Grim's. If it were just farmer and not he and his wife then it's totally different. But the design of the wife's outfit points directly to Bezek's work.

So how do I interpret Picaso's quote? Good artists copy is obvious. It's the second part - great artists steal. It means we are inspired by others work but we go beyond copying and by making it our own, giving it our own touch that makes it unique from the inspiration. Grim's work is inspired by Rot's work but he made it his own and stands out as its own - he stole it, it's no longer Rot's. Grandin copied Grim and everyone knows it. There's nothing unique about Grandin's design - its a COPY.

In the end it's ok to be inspired by something. And copying is ok as long as you are improving upon the original and making it yours. With Grandin this is simply not the case.

Rot said...

I've been aware of that quote for some time now and it's still an unsourced/unverified quote by Picasso.

There's a part of me that doesn't accept that he'd ever say that. Though he was a pretty funny dude and had a great sense of humor when it came to art critics, so he may have said it in jest. I think he once said that he'd sign a really good forgery. So who knows.

I think it boils down to these artistic issues:

Try your absolute best to be original.

If you copy/borrow/are inspired by someone's work, cite the source.

And never EVER make money off of another person's design.

The art of inspiration is all about being honest to yourself. And an artist always knows where the idea came from - inside their head, or outside of it.



Ghoulie Girls said...

I saw Bezek's post and it got me thinking. Is it Grandin Road that's being a copy cat or is it a manufacturer?

I ordered from GR recently (not the Bezek knock-off) and two of the items were Tekky Toys brand. (The knock-off doesn't appear to be made by TT.)

I'm not sure if GR makes or commissions any of it's items so the thief could be a manufacturer from which GR just happens to purchase. This just further complicates any legal battle.

I personally will not purchase a piece that is a knock-off of another's work. Unfortunately, most shoppers will never know.

Rot said...

I think you might be right.
I'd presume they order from wholesale catalogs, but I'm not sure.

Hopefully they take their copyright abuse policy seriously and right any wrongs. They have a link on their site to report such matters.

Jay's Shadow said...

Amazing. I just don't get it.

I'm really surprised that we haven't seen them rip off witch jars or any of your pumpkin scarecrows.

Aron said...

I was wondering when this was going to become an issue again (since your original post about the cloaked ghost). Looks like this is behavior that is going to continue for a while due to the increasing creativity of haunters, their lack of legal recourse, and the ease of finding/stealing ideas on the internet. Sad times.

MorbidMariah said...

It's interesting, I was just looking at the website of an artist named Thomas Kuebler (whose work I think ya'll would LOVE ... www.tskuebler.com) last night, and on his FAQ page he lists the question "Do you have any words of advice for the aspiring artist?" His answer was "Always copyright your work. www.copyright.gov" I'm betting he's had to deal with the frustration of somebody ripping off his work too.

Terrormaster said...

Rot, I'm right there with you on citing the original artists - but only to a certain extent. I don't believe every single piece of inspired work needs to automatically and publicly credit the source of the inspiration. It's really incredibly subjective. Almost every artist was inspired by someone at some point in their careers. But in a lot of cases I don't think every single piece of work an artist does that was inspired by another artist needs to be tagged with the source of their inspiration. A simple entry in their bio (or during an interview) along the lines of "artist x has always been an inspiration for my work... blah blah blah" should suffice. It depends on how close the work is to the original. Grim's piece is obvious to anyone who has watched your work over the years as being inspired by you. However it's close enough design wise that he rightfully and respectfully credited a specific piece from your collection as the source of inspiration. Grandin (or the manufacturer as the case may be) did no such thing and the copy is WAY more blatant. And worse, they're making money off of it.

Again I think it's really subjective. The when and how much credit given really depends on how much the artists' work resembles the inspiration. And while there is a tipping scale where it becomes blatant copies, that line moves depending on which artist you ask. The same for the other end of the spectrum. The line where it becomes ok to profit off work inspired by other artists without royalties or credit moves depending on the artist - at what point is it no longer considered a copy. It's tough finding a specific point because its different for each of us. Those lines move based on how passionate we are about our work. In most cases its just not black and white as it may sound initially. In the end its on the conscious of the inspired to do the right thing.

There was a great discussion between David Amerland and John Rakestraw this past weekend over on Google+ on the very topic of plagiarism (you can watch the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeGqvLcGkMM). The final thoughts were that it's the idea that should be protected not the words. I'm not sure how well this plays into art but it's worth a listen.

Sorry if this was a little long winded. This is a topic I feel very passionately about. And when Joy mentioned "patent" I got all bent out of shape. Patents are supposed to protect the artist and encourage innovation. But our system is so messed up it's actually doing the opposite - its suffocating us. Patents, at least in their current incarnation, are EVIL IMHO.

Rot said...

I hear you, Terrormaster, and this topic is always such an interesting one to discuss.

For me though it's really not all that subjective. If a piece of mine wouldn't have existed had I not seen it somewhere else, even if I completely changed the design, I'm in the camp that the source should be cited when presenting that piece. That's about as black and white and objective as can be. If that prop/painting/song/poem/film exists only because the creator was inspired by another artist's work, what's easier than saying "after seeing this piece by artist x, it inspired me to create this work..."

It comes back to that question I keep asking, had you not seen it elsewhere, would it exist?

That's very easy to answer.


Mr Black said...

This kind of thing really makes me mad. I hate to see people ripped off like that. Still, their copy is a pale shadow of the original work.

Scary Jerry said...

There's inspiration and then there is stealing. I would hope that Grandin Road had no part in sourcing the original theft - that was the unscrupulous manufacturer who sold them the design. However, they are now faced with a choice, AGAIN, since they are selling the pieces. They will likely not offer the original artist any restitution, and cannot acknowledge his work because that would admit wrongdoing and legally seal the deal. They will simply wait for the artist to make a move and in the meantime, make a buck.

Putting images online opens up artists to plagiarism and theft, and according to my lawyer friend, intellectual property is almost impossible defend in court (look at Apple's unlikely win against Samsung). Manufacturers rely on artists not having deep pockets to contest issues in court, and really, Halloween isn't given much serious acknowledgement to begin with. An artist declaring that a home goods company stole his zombie design would be fodder for ridicule.

Unfortunately, I was one of the schmucks who ordered the pieces and I have been building a display around them. Since I've altered them with a little blood, paint, and dirt, I can't send them back. Ugh. This definitely taints my whole display this year.

Terrormaster said...

Rot, that's a really great way to look at it - if they had not seen it elsewhere, would it exist? And that plays right in to what Scary Jerry was saying. If pictures are out on the web it's fodder to folks with the large wallets and unlimited coffers.

There's not much that can be done when we're the little guys except help each other out - which for the most part I think most of us do fairly well in our little community. Here's a thought that perhaps most of us can take something away from... I think when we're looking at things like this on a piece by piece basis (Grim's piece inspired by Rot's piece) then credit should be given along with the piece. But when we're inspired by another artist's work overall and not necessarily a particular piece work then perhaps its not necessary to credit every single piece but instead state in their bio "a lot of my work is inspired by..." etc.

For example, a lot of my stuff is inspired by the writings of H.P.Lovecraft. I always mention that when I talk about about work and always openly admit it. But I don't go tacking Lovecraft on to every piece I do. Most of the time it speaks for itself. Same if I wanted to do some paper mache ground breakers (which sadly I haven't found time for in the last 3-4 years). Maybe I would be inspired to make them based on what I've seen you do. Even though my ground breakers would look nothing like yours should I be attaching "inspired by Pumpkinrot" to every single ground breaker I make. Or do I tell people and put in my bio that Pumpkinrot has been an inspiration to my work? In each example I'm inspired by something the artist did. If their work didn't exist neither would mine. But in these examples there's no specific story or piece of art that inspired, just the mythos, style, aesthetics, and/or medium.

With the way social media works its time we all took a long look at plagiarism and how we think about it. By no means saying its ok to copy without credit. But in much the same way that old media needs give in to new media and think like new media or disappear. Perhaps artist need to reevaluate how we think about plagiarism.

Shani said...

Both of those look like blatant copies if you ask me. I think in the world of art...it's hard not to copy what inspires you whether it be someone elses work or something else entirely. But there is a difference between using someone elses work for inspiration while making the new design your own and just out right copying the design.

It's irritating to me to think that they couldn't have just given props for the persons they got the designs from. A little credit where credit is due would be nice.

Rot said...

TM,
I'm going to sound like a broken record...
If you created something from another person's idea/creation, you should cite the source, somewhere. Anywhere.

I guess in the end it's all up to the person's conscience. I personally try to force myself to avoid making stuff I've seen elsewhere.

Terrormaster said...

Rot, I think we're on the same page here just reading the words a little differently. You're summarizing and I'm getting granular. We both cite our sources we just choose to do it differently.

I never try to imitate anyone except as a learning experience only and to see how it helps my own work. It's why teachers teach and why a lot of haunters share how-to's. Not so others can copy us. So others can see what techniques we use and perhaps learn something from it. Of course when we do that we open the door for others to imitate us and claim it as their own. It's also why I don't really explain any of the mechanics of my designs much anymore. Too many people abuse that sharing. Plus it also ruins some of the magic.

And not to beat a dead horse myself. But I would like to believe we're in agreement at least at a very high level. We just choose to solve the same problem in different ways. As long as credit is given, even if it's inspiration, is what really counts.

Jon said...

Yeah, the cross-pollination of ideas between people who aren't selling what they make is one thing. I can see both sides of that debate (citation vs. none). When it comes to commercial use, though, it's pretty clear that someone is getting hosed here. The person who did the original design should be compensated, plain and simple. Product design is an important part of the process of getting something to a store shelf or catalog. Whoever manufactured this just saved themselves that step by lifting a design off the internet. As others have pointed out, though, we live in an age where the laws around intellectual property leave a lot to be desired. Those who attempt to legally defend themselves often lose even if they win. Others know this and take advantage. It's a shame.

But, you know, you can strike back in other ways. This post is a good example. Kick up enough dust and it might create pressure to either discontinue the product, be more careful about where they get their ideas or (and I know I'm reaching) maybe even make amends.

Does anyone know who the actual manufacturer is? Might be good to track that information down and start spreading the word about their practices. At the very least you can cost them a bit of business. I know I won't be buying their stuff.

Rot said...

Art classes teach techniques. Poetry classes teach techniques. It's the style and voice that's yours. I think citing "influences" is technically optional and that it's a matter of conscience and courtesy.

If a Haunter came across SkullandBone.com and was so moved by what they saw that they created a detail-oriented, flickering-candle-laden, sophisticated cemetery in their own style and voice, I personally think there should be a mention of the inspiration. If you always had those images in your mind and SkullandBone.com helped get you off your butt to do something about it then I guess a person could argue non-citation. But I'd still personally cite the source in a bio or side-bar when presenting the Haunt in photos on the interwebs. I just see it as being courteous.

I think one has to always be careful in assuming that the audience of your artwork is knowledgeable of the source material. If I create a tribute to William Beksinski (which I probably will do at some point in my life) I'll be sure to cite his work. And I won't assume the viewer will know his style and deduce naturally that my work is inspired by his work.

And I'm going to make a distinction between plagiarism when it comes to art vs other areas. I don't think anything needs to be redefined just because we're digital. We're not talking about computer programs and code here. We're talking about one artist creating a work. And why/how it exists.
The example in this blog post is pretty simple to me. The designer of those figures knows where that idea came from. Sure they can argue that they're just two corpses, no one owns the "corpse" design! But at the end of the day, that person knows where the idea came from. And I believe they found the design online on that artist's site. So it's a matter of misrepresentation. To me it's black and white. Everyone who creates knows where the idea came from.

And there's that question...did YOU create it? Is it YOUR idea? I happen to believe the answer to that isn't murky or nebulous or debatable or in need of redefining.

And I worry when someone wants to test the boundaries of plagiarism in the world of art.

Terrormaster said...

Art is art whether its painting, sculpting, sketching, video, film, theater, writing, composing, or playing an instrument. Even designing anything from homes, cars, websites, and computer engineering. And even designing and building Halloween props. How we think about plagiarism shouldn't be limited to the medium we choose to work in.

I still don't think it's black and white. Take Lady Gaga for instance. We all know she copped Madonna's style musically and attitude. She's made efforts to make it her own by being more over the top even though any keen listener knows better. Should she be citing Madonna in all her songs and videos? Should every musician be citing the Beatles with every song because we know most of them claim them as major influence. Should Gotye cite Sting because his voice and style sure do remind me of Sting. Should every musician cite their influences?

With the case with Grim's work it's very obvious they were lazy and lifted his design. That's not even inspiration. That's flat out stealing. I'm a bit on the fence with Bezek's work. Should his work be citing every time someone puts two dressed corpses together as a couple? I dunno, I thought of the numerous Halloween themed versions of the American Gothic painting. I never knew who Bezek was until you posted this. I've seen Spirit Halloween parody the American Gothic couple a few years back (I have pics someplace). Was Bezek inspired by Grant Wood? Should he be citing Grant Wood. Should the Grandin designer be citing Bezek or Grant Wood. What happens when art was inspired by art that was inspired by other art that was inspired by yet other art. A lot of art can be traced back because many artists are inspired by others even the greats.

Again I say it's subjective in a lot of cases. Not everything is blatantly obvious and black and white as what happened with Grim and Grandin.

Jon said...

I remember being in a class in college that talked a lot about intellectual property and the rights of artists to protect their work (I was a music major). The Internet was just picking up steam and things like file sharing hadn't happened yet, so we tended to focus on two areas: sampling and sound-alike music. Everyone's probably familiar with sampling. Sound-alike music hasn't gotten quite the same amount of attention. In a nutshell, that's when someone takes either a song or a signature sound and hires someone else to duplicate it, usually for advertising. Tom Waits had a big battle over this with Frito-Lay when they hired a guy with a similar voice to record music for a commercial.

This, to me, is like that. It's obvious that the intent was to imitate an original artist and/or their work and profit from it--doubly so, because they don't have to actually pay the original artist to do their thing. They just take the idea and make a knock-off. Fast, cheap and profitable.

Unfortunately, no matter how obvious a transgression it may be, it still IS nebulous and murky and debatable from a strictly LEGAL standpoint. It is now just as it was then. Tom Waits had a long battle and I'm not even sure that he won.

This needs to be fixed. Personally, I think one of the ways to do that is from the bottom up, so to speak, with a change in attitude. If more people understood and agreed that crediting those from whom their work is derived (and that word choice is not accidental--derived is different than, say, inspired) is the courteous and respectful approach, and if people got together to call out people who don't, maybe the law of the land would gradually shift to reflect that.

Look at Creative Commons. Lovely concept, because it combines the protective aspects of copyright law with the understanding that creative works are meant to be shared and built upon. CC may have its flaws, but it's the best alternative I've found to the absurdly complicated and self-defeating copyright laws we have today. If we had wide enough adoption of something like Creative Commons--enough to give it real teeth legally--we'd be a lot better off in situations like this.

But none of that happens without a change in general attitude. On that topic, I agree with Rot on this one. If you make something derived from or in the style of someone else, a citation is just the right thing to do and keeps you from looking like a phony.

Jon said...

Oh, and a PS:

(with no offense to Terrormaster)

I can't wait for that "Great artists steal..." quote to be buried. Preferably in a grave next to "Greed is good."

Huge cop out.

Terrormaster said...

PS. No offense taken Jon. We're adults here in a civil debate. The reason I brought the quote up is because it's quite often misunderstood and taken for granted. It's meant to be taken as a metaphor not literal like a lot of bad artists use it for as a cop out.

For those who don't get it, it basically means good artists will never be anything more than good because they only imitate other artist. They are nothing more than a fake, a copy of the original. Great artists steal means nothing more than that while they are inspired by others work, their work is not an imitation. They've added so much of their own originality to it that its really its own piece. They've made it their own.

But just because they've made it their own does not mean they shouldn't cite their inspirations either.

Rot said...

Terrormaster,

I think you're looking at this as a "CAN they technically legally get away with this?" as I'm looking at this as a "SHOULD they get away with this?"

I happen to be in the camp that think GrandinRoad (or the company they bought it from) stole that design from the artist. The fact that they did it last year with Grim's Ghost and the fact that these look intensely similar to Bezek's pieces (imagine them with the same colored clothing) is enough for me to suspect them of trolling the internet for ideas.

But my point isn't in trying to figure out if they stole that design. My point...my exact point..is that if they DID steal the design, they should cite and pay the creator. It's that simple.

Since accusations of theft on this blog always turn into discussions on inspiration and citing sources, I'll say again, it comes back to the question: Did YOU come up with that idea? I think your point is that there's no way of answering that question because the artist has been influenced by so many outside forces over their career and life. And my point is that ALL artists know where it comes from. Lady Gaga knows where it's coming from. I personally don't agree that she's a copy of Madonna like a lot of people claim. I happen to dig Gaga's music, and don't really dig Madonna's. And damn you for making me admit that.

But even that is getting off base. My entire point is that YOU know where YOUR ideas come from. Lady Gaga knows where her ideas come from - and if they're from Madonna, then she should say so...

I've been avoiding speaking for myself because it seems arrogant to me. But let's look at me and my body of work. I didn't invent the scarecrow or the witch or the groundbreaker. But over the years I built them. Because I had an image in my mind and a desire to make it happen. I made a scarecrow. And it had a hat and a coat and a skullish face. That was my interpretation of a Scarecrow. Same with my Witches. Classical designs, but my own take. I'm not suggesting I have to go back and find the first time I saw as a child a green witch and cite the source. But if I made one because I saw one online built by another Haunter, why not cite the source? I say "I SHOULD cite that source." You say "Do I HAVE to cite the source?"

I don't think it's as murky as you're making it. Not at all. How can it be?

My Swamp Foetus creatures have bulbous elongated heads. Some might say "Hey, he's a fan of Giger, they look like the Alien creature from ALIEN." And I comfortably know that I just dig elongated heads. I've been drawing them for years. Same with the Skull Witch. There are masks and decorations out there featuring Skulls wearing witch hats, but I'm comfortable that my concept came from my brain.

In the end, it's about that inner truth in the artist's mind. And I'm saying they always know where it comes from. And I think you're saying that they don't. And I just can't subscribe to that.

So I think this issue is a little messy because no one is sure if Grandin stole that concept from Bezek. And I want to be VERY clear that my point about this situation is this:

1. If they found that idea online from Bezek's work, they committed a crime.

2. If they thought of that design on their own and it resembles Bezek's work, then it's just a weird coincidence and no one owes anyone ANYTHING.

The truth is out there. And the parties involved KNOW the truth.

And that's my point. My only point.

Creators always know.

















Terrormaster said...

Rot, everytime I read your comments and I mine I keep saying in my head that we're both effectively saying the same thing in different ways. There's definitely a disconnect somewhere.

I think we can leave Grim's work out of this since everyone here agrees on that one. As for Bezek's work I can definitely see the similarities when pointed out. I'm not defending Grandin nor am I accusing them. I'm seen a lot of incredible coincidences in the design world. If they came up with it on their own then you are correct, let sleeping dogs lie. And if they did lift the design from Bezek's pictures on the web I agree here as well - they SHOULD cite him.

I think Jon has choosen the right word... Derived. When you derive from someone elses work you best give them credit. The Grandin piece definitely LOOKS to be derived from Bezek's work when you compare them. And if it is, the artist SHOULD give Bezek credit, never was a doubt in my mind here.

When we look at it in terms of derivitives, yes it's quite black and white as you say. But in terms of inspirations it can become quite nebulous because like you said we are inspired by numerous sources throughout our careers.

I think Jon has the right idea with adapting Creative Commons to Intellectual Property.

So yes, even if I don't come across that way, I am agreeing with what you are saying. Just giving my take on it.

P.S. Nothing wrong with Lady Gaga (I often include tracks in my Halloween party mix), Madonna (80s Madonna, not post 90s Madonna), Sting, or Gotye... And damn YOU for making me admit I like all of them :-P

Rot said...

And it's cool if you didn't agree with me, btw.
I have a feeling we both enjoy talking about this stuff.

Aron said...

Hi Terrormaster,
Did you go over to Bezek's blog and look at this pictures, not just the ones on Rot's blog? The top two pictures of his sculptures have identical heads to the ones on the Grandin Road props. They're not just similar, they're identical. They took those heads and placed them on bodies/clothes similar to another one of his sculptures (the pic on Rot's site, Pic #3 on Bezeks site). I'm just wondering because to me there is no doubt whatsoever that they lifted his designs. When I read Rot's post I though, "yeah, similar". But after I compared the pics on Bezeks post it removed any doubt I had about the theft. Just wondering - I've enjoyed reading your comments!

Grim said...

Thanks for posting this again, I enjoyed reading the comments.

I don't know if anything I have ever made was completely my idea, and I always try to cite where my ideas for certain props come from. Most of the things I have made were inspired mainly by Rot or Skull and Bone, with a few other people here and there. Sometimes, I'm even afraid to look at Rot's new creations, because I know it is going to make me want to build something similar, haha...

It didn't really bother me that much when I saw the ghost being mass produced and being sold by Grandin Road... it was actually kind of flattering that they thought something I made was good enough to copy. What bothered me the most was that I thought Rot might have thought I somehow sold this idea to some company and tried to make money off of what was originally his idea. I had no idea that they were even selling this prop until one day Rot sent me an e-mail showing it to me.

My suspicion, and I am totally speculating, is that this was made by some company in China or somewhere and that Grandin Road didn't have anything really to do with it. I have seen Chinese copies of a lot of different things, that look almost exactly the same as the real thing only made a lot more cheaply. I have no idea if that's what really happened, but that was my gut reaction the first time I saw it.

Thanks again, Rot, for always being such an inspiration through not only your artwork, but being a heck of a cool guy as well.

Terrormaster said...

It's cool Rot. I'm a straight shooter and call em like I see em. If I disagreed with you I would either not post it at all or speak my mind. Like I said earlier, we're all adults here and this is a pretty civil discussion. And you're right, this is definitely one of my favorite topics and a personal pet peeve. I guess we're both preaching to the choir eh?

@Aron: I was going by the pictures Rot shared. After your suggestion I went to the Bezek's site and perused his gallery. After doing that I've come down completely off the fence on this one. At first glance its not a copy per se. But once you see his other pieces you realize it IS a mashup of the Bezek's work. I can understand parody mashups. But Grandin Road making a buck off this without even asking Bezek is totally uncool and unethical IMHO.

Terrormaster said...

After thinking about this some more and reading Grim's response I'm not sure Grandin Road is at fault but probably some company in China mass producing these things. I mean Gemmy steals at the very least ONE idea from haunters every season without fail. I guess on one hand that could just be karma though since we've been hacking the hell out of their products for just as long. Doesn't make what they do right though.

On that note I think the ethical thing to do would be for Grandin Road's purchasing agent to verify the authenticity of any products they plan on carrying. Although I can only imagine the amount of work that would take. For starters doing a google image search against Grandin's ghost yielded no like results.

Rot said...

Interesting development: The blog post on Bezek's site has been removed.

labratt said...

I get what TM is saying, but I just can't get past the fact that these corporate rapists are getting fat off the efforts of true artists....and they certainly aren't doing it in the name of furthering the art form. Squeezing out half baked Xerox copies of somebody's blood sweat and mache paste isn't art, or helping anyone...its getting wealthy off of a relatively new phenomenon. Sad and pathetic.

labratt said...

Payoff anyone?

Terrormaster said...

That's possible labrat. Or it could be Bezek has decided to involve a lawyer in which case it's in his best interest to not publicly discuss the case and was thereby asked by his council to remove it.

Or it could be Grandin Road's legal team that sent a Cease and Desist letter. Definitely an interesting development. For giggles I'm going to keep a snapshot of this discussion and post unless Rot has any objections.

Rot said...

I was thinking the same thing. This smells like a lawyer.

Hopefully he posts about the outcome.

No objections at all : )

labratt said...

My other two thoughts as well. I hope its not the latter. Love to see one of those infringed upon have the means and stamina to fight.....and win! Now there would be a reason to celebrate, certainly moreso than another animatronic release party at your local spirit store.

William Bezek said...

Hi Rot, Thanks for posting this...unfortunately I was threatened with legal action by Grandin Road if I didn't remove the post from my blog so the link you provided is a dead end. They claim no responsibility sighting some mystery vendor they bought the design from. I just wanted to clarify to some of the people who don't think these are close copies: the set you have pictured here are the figures they copied the clothing from, the OTHER set I did at the same time were the ones they copied the faces from...near exact copies obviously sculpted from my online photos. Maybe if they do it again we can all get together and sue as a group!

Rot said...

Holy shit, man.
I really thought this was going to be good news.

Kinda speechless here.

Rot said...

And this is the part where Grandin Road SHOULD have said "here's the contact information of the supplier, sorry this has happened, we won't be ordering from that company next year, and we'll be contacting them to let them know exactly why."

But instead the artist gets a legal threat.

Makes me sick that the Universe doesn't work that way.

Autumnleaf said...

So does 'no responsibility' mean that one can purchase goods for resale knowing' that they've been copied from another source without permission? I mean,obviously Grandin Road knows the situation now. Should they be removing this product from their inventory? I'm unclear on this...I mean, I love the Grandin Road offerings..having purchased a few favorite things from them. Now I'm wondering how many of these are acquired from 'mysterious vendors' who simply copied someone else's work.

Rot said...

I'm going to put real money on the fact that Grandin will continue to sell it if it's a profitable item. What they SHOULD do is be cooperative and apologetic. And I'm serious when I say that they need to terminate the business relationship with that supplier, or threaten them to do so if they catch this crap again.

But I'm not that naive. I know they won't do anything even CLOSE to that. As evidenced by them threatening the artist with a lawsuit.

Man, I hope he has a lawyer in the family. I can't think of a clearer case of theft. Those faces are identical. Even the winking eye.

Jon said...

This is disgusting. I'll never do business with Grandin Road and I WILL be spreading the word about this.

Daghita said...

Why not everyone just leave a product review of the "deadwalker couple" on Grandin's website? At least showing distaste for the theft? I even saw one that seemed like a copy of something from Terror Syndicate.


Marrow said...

I'd be keen to know what your thoughts are on witch jars appearing in other people haunts and websites uncredited. It seems to me that due to how common they are now, haunters assume Witch Jars are in the public domain of Yard Haunting.

Rot said...

I enjoy seeing the Witch Jars around in other haunts.
A credit would be nice, but someone could argue that the candle-in-a-mason-jar has been around forever...and they'd be right.

I just think a person should be courteous if a design comes from another haunter.

But I really want to stress that it's very VERY cool to see someone building something that they saw on my site.

Terrormaster said...

I had a bad feeling this was the direction this was heading. Being in the business of legal ebilling there are a few lawyers in house. I don't think any of them specialize in anything like this since most of our clients are corporate law departments. However I can ask around on Monday and see if anything can be done.

My other hobby used to be tinkering with making horror games in RPG Maker. As a result I was in numerous communities having to do with the RPG Maker app. There was a site owner I got to be pretty good friends with that was pretty ruthless about protecting the original artwork of her site members. I mean "track down the offender's IP, trace it to the host, and tell their mommy and daddy" ruthless (most of the members of the community were in the 13-21 age demographic). As far as I know though she never had to deal with big companies stealing stuff, at least not that I'm aware of. We need someone like that fighting for haunters.

Rot said...

Agreed.
It's bad news for the rest of us if these companies start using our websites and forums for design ideas. And not even having the decency to TRY to make it a different design. Like making the mouths different..or NOT having the same eye winking. It's blatant and it's arrogant. And it speaks volumes about how confident they are about getting away with this.



Aron said...

Rot, you're pretty much a household name in the haunt community. Go to any of the various boards and people are referring to certain props as 'pumpkinrots'. Even if people don't mention you most of us know what the deal is. You're stuff is like the flying crank ghost, we all know where it came from, and nobody could get away with saying otherwise. From what I can tell most uncredited props in the haunt community are made by people who don't really spend a lot of time online or think to credit the source. They see cool stuff, make their own copy for their little haunt with their kids, post pics, all without intending to rip anybodies ideas off. But that's the joe-blow home haunter. I wouldn't think that they should be of much concern. That being said, people who profit off stuff like this have no excuse. I'm thinking of that woman who wrote a witch jar how-to for her blog (you posted about this a long time ago). She knew what she was doing. Companies that distribute products have no excuse. Anybody who has been active on blogs/forums regularly or has a large-scale haunt doesn't have an excuse. The fact that an artist is being threatened by a company that is profiting off his work makes me sick to my stomach. This feels like when funnyjunk tried to sue The Oatmeal after they posted his copyrighted cartoons. Just a sad state of affairs.

Terrormaster said...

DOH! Was perusing Spirit Halloween's online catalog to see what this year's offerings were and stumbled on this:

http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/gt-hanging-faceless-spectre/

Jay's Shadow said...

I am with Mr. Glasset, I will never buy anything from Grandin Road ever again.

And I even just got something from them too. >:(

labratt said...

Was really hoping this was going the other way. Just sad and pathetic. The Almighty $ trumps morality once again. Ridiculous.

Mantan Calaveras said...

So Grandin Road demanded that HE remove the evidence from his blog? That's outrageous.

This is teaching me the very essential lesson that, if you are an independent professional artist you better keep a copyright lawyer on reserve.

Or better yet, learn the law, heh heh.

Perhaps it is time for the haunt community to come together and invest in a "Haunters Legal Defense Fund" to protect the community from copyright theft.

ShellHawk said...

For them to have bullied Mr. Bezek in that way is deplorable!

So here's my suggestion: POLITELY bomb their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/grandinroad

and suggest that they do the right thing on a public venue. The word will get out that Grandin Road has a history of ripping off people's designs and that will on reflect their reputation as a company. Something to the effect of, "I know the artist and am familiar with his work. I understand your company has been in contact with him in this regards and that you have subsequently ordered him to take down a blog post citing your company's error in selling work that was a direct copy of his. Please do the ethical thing and make restitution to the artist, rather than renouncing any responsibility. It reflects badly on Grandin Road that the company would bully an individual artist merely because it has the capital and legal department to do so."

Of course, their lawyers could pull something like "slander" or some such nonsense, and that could have repercussions for William...

We are all aware that corporations can simply "lawyer up" better and longer than the average private citizen. They have very deep pockets and can simply wait it out.

What we, the community, may be able to do, is to force them to do the right thing by politely mentioning this and requesting that they restore their company's image. Public perception of a company can be a powerful tool. Going to the media, and social media can be an equally powerful tool, if you're aware of the potential backlash.

The fact is, these companies will continue to get away with ripping off our hard work because they can.

Thoughts, anyone?

Terrormaster said...

ShellHawk has the right idea. Internet movements are pretty powerful when organized properly. If their image gets publicly attacked they might be forced to take action so they don't appear to be the bad guys. But it has to be organized properly and in a way that won't actually backfire on Bezek.

I won't touch Facebook with a 10' poll (switched to Google+ 100% and have never ever looked back) so can't be very helpful there. But I still have a presence on Twitter. And if someone comes up with a message to slam them with I'm there. I will try to do my part on Google+ as well.

Terrormaster said...

They have a Google+ presence and so does Mr.Bezek. I've done my part:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/109278962630081587362/posts/TizGNqnmEGc

labratt said...

Just went on Grandin Roads site, says item no longer available.

Does not say out of stock.

Small victories. Hell yeah!

Rot said...

labratt,
I just went there and was able to add it to a cart to order.

Where do you see that statement?

I think it's still available.

Adam said...

These are CLEARLY stolen by Grandin Road. He SHOULD hire a lawyer and see what his options are. If he has documents showing he created this, a judge would take one look at it and say its THEFT. Its not even "improved on." Thats the only way they can take it if its changed in a LARGE way.

labratt said...

Mmmmm. I did a Google search from my phone and linked to it from pinterest. Might have spoke too soon.

Mantan Calaveras said...

Yes,

1) As ShellHawk suggests, let's start bringing attention to this problem in public venues

2) Find out who the manufacturer of this item is, and let's figure out what we need to do to incent them to stop stealing artists work. A manufacturer is less likely to have a big legal department defending them

3) I would still suggest that haunters put together a legal defense fund. Maybe write a trust. Collectivize your resources, and find a copyright lawyer who believes in the cause. It will only take a few lawsuits to discourage continued theft.

labratt said...

I found nobody else with the Bezek couple, however I did find 4 additional retailers selling versions of the cloaked ghost with chain and lantern. Targets is pretty pricey yet still is a pale imitation.