Bad business, a cautionary tale or a sad reality? You decide.

Today I have an unfortunate story to share with you. It’s one that happens too often and many times without fair resolve. And frankly, it’s bullshit. I’m sharing this story now because I was not able to come to a fair agreement with the party involved and have exhausted the options I’m willing to pursue. My hope in sharing this is that you can be a more educated consumer and also to help prevent this same thing from happening to you or someone you know.

Here are the facts and nothing but the facts. I’ll let you make up your own mind on what’s “right”, “wrong” or “fair”, but I’d love to hear your thoughts here and on social media.

A couple months back, a friend sent me a link to the book above, 101 Quilting Tips and Tricks by Penny Haren published by Laundauer/Fox Chapel Publishing. Yes, that’s MY photo of MY Undercover Maker Mat pattern on the COVER, and no, they did not ask for my permission to use it.

I tried to contact the author via several platforms with no response and also promptly called the publisher, Laundauer, who is now under Fox Chapel Publishing. No one could help me aside from giving me an email address, so I wrote and waited, and waited. I finally received a response from the COO of Fox Chapel. He explained that my image was pulled from Pinterest to use on an internal mockup and was never changed out. He offered to replace the image on a potential second printing in approximately one year and offered me an insulting amount of money, $200. At the time of writing this, I have not heard from the author, though I do know she is aware of the situation. Perhaps she was advised not to contact me, but I will say if this was my book, I would be sending a hefty apology regardless of what actually happened internally.

Now, I have to interject a few things before we continue. First, I have worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years. I have worked on extremely large projects with large clients (The Cleveland Indians, for example), I have worked on books, I have been IN books, I know how every step of the process works. I cannot say that the scenario Fox Chapel explained isn’t true, but it’s just hard for me to believe (and really, what “nationally know speaker, columnist, consultant and author” uses someone else’s image on the cover of their book without even know where it came from?). Second, I have been paid more to use my image with full credit inside of a book, so you can see how ridiculous the offer from Fox Chapel was.

I’m updating this post here by adding in that word ridiculous is simply MY OPINION and the opinion of those I consulted with. Everyone’s idea of FAIR compensation is different, and we’re all entitled to our opinions. If Fox Chapel believes that what they are offering is fair, then that is their opinion and we are all free to decide how we feel about it I clearly disagree and am sharing the facts here for you to decide if you agree.

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Honestly, I felt like I was being treated like some naive girl with a sewing machine and and a smart phone rather than a mature woman and artist who was worked her ass off to build a business for herself.

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Not only was the book being sold numerous places online and distributed through major distributors to shops across the world, but the book cover was (and still is at the time of writing this) being used as a marketing tool for the company on two Facebook banners, on their catalog, etc – despite requests to remove it. I guess I should take this as flattery?

I consulted with an invaluable colleague in the industry and worked out a VERY fair contract I know there is not much money in publishing)  to which Fox Chapel declined and offered me slightly more than the first offer (a little more than double), continually pointing out that they admitted their mistake, that sales for the book were slow and limited (I really don’t call all those sales venues shown above LIMITED, and that’s not all of them), and that they’ve made internal changes to prevent this. All fine and dandy, but also irrelevant to the situation at hand.

This is not simply an issue of an image being used without permission. I want to explain the many ways a situation like this can negatively and financially affect a small business owner and artist like myself, and maybe like you. Having this book in the marketplace hinders my ability to contract this image for other uses or even use it on a cover of MY OWN BOOK someday. It has the potential to cause confusion in the marketplace in many ways. People could come to associate the image with the author rather than myself. The book cover or image could begin to link to the book rather than myself on social media sites such as Pinterest, directly taking traffic and pattern sales away from me. Fox Chapel disagreed that either of these points were possible or relevant which BLOWS MY MIND. There are many other factors also, such as people who buy the book assuming the cover pattern is included, only to be disappointed that it’s not. I could go on and on.

I have received many messages from friends, colleagues and  shop owners across the country who have seen or stock the book, recognizing my image and seeing I was not credited. Regardless, what I was asking for in compensation was very fair for the image use on a book cover, the points mentioned above, and my time in dealing with the matter, but their second offer was the best they could do. I declined this compensation and am instead sharing this story with you.

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As a friend so perfectly put it, it feels like they’re leaving the money on the nightstand as they walk out.

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Now, I don’t know how large Fox Chapel is. I’m all for capitalism, I don’t despise big business or corporations, and I don’t believe that the size of a company always relates to their actions, so I’m not going to say that this is what you get from big business or anything like that. This situation is simply a reflection of the morals and ethics of those in charge at Fox Chapel and they’re clearly not in line with what I believe. As an author, I would be embarrassed to be associated with this company. As a consumer, I would not choose to give them my money. Does sharing this story and the book image ultimately give them exposure and marketing? Perhaps. I considered blurring out the title, but I think that seeing it all is more helpful in sharing this story. If someone sees this and decides they want the book, that’s on them.

So the big question… how can we, as artists, prevent this?

One simple, yet not foolproof, way to help prevent image theft is to watermark all of your images. Will I do that moving forward? Probably not. I don’t like the way it looks or the time it takes. I don’t think that should mean I’m left vulnerable to this happening again, but sadly it does. Also, a watermark is not a guarantee with how easy it can be to photoshopped out sometimes.

The only legal way to protect your work is to register it with the US Copyright Office which is expensive ($55 per work) and time consuming. Many of you may be thinking “but don’t we automatically have ownership of all our images?”, short answer, yes, but not what it comes to fighting a situation like this in a legal manner.

I consulted with an intellectual property lawyer who was very helpful. Technically you COULD get a lawyer involved in a situation like this without having a registered copyright, but the costs to do so would far outweigh any monetary reward, and sadly, I am not independently wealthy. In the US, all parties pay their own court costs UNLESS it is a statutory situation, such as an official copyright, that has a different legal standing in court, comes with a minimum reward amount and requires the offending party to pay your court costs. I have already started the copyright process with my most popular images and all of my pattern content to help protect myself moving forward. It’s unrealistic to be able to do this for every photo I post on Instagram or share on Pinterest, but I’ll just have to pick and choose as I move forward.

I wish I could continue to fight this, even at a loss to myself, simply out of principal, but I believe Fox Chapel is well aware of all this and taking advantage of that situation. Perhaps that’s the saddest part of this story. It shows me they simply do not care despite all the claims by the COO of respecting me as a talented artist.

In closing, I think we see that this story is all the things I questioned in the title – bad business, a cautionary tale and a sad reality. While this situation is so incredibly frustrating and angering, I do have some satisfaction in sharing with you. I know I can’t RUIN Fox Chapel, but I hope they feel some impact from all of this. Even if it is simply fielding a hundred emails about their poor business practices and maybe losing some book sales.

I would really love to hear what you think in the comments below and especially on social media. I want Fox Chapel to know how their customer base and distributors feel about this type of behavior. You can find me on Instagram here and on Facebook here, and you can find Fox Chapel on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and via email here.

UPDATES:
You can find an update after hearing from the author here, and the “resolution” to this case here.

Thanks, friends!
~ nicole

40 thoughts on “Bad business, a cautionary tale or a sad reality? You decide.

  1. Kate says:

    Ugh! They are TERRIBLE. How does a Pinterest mockup get all the way to printing anyways? That’s a lot of steps (right?) for someone, anyone, from the author all the way to graphic arts department folks to say “oh hey guys, this ISN’T OURS.”

    Like

    • Paula Cornell says:

      Wow. Wow. Wow. This is absolutely gut wrenching to read. I’m so sorry 😐. I cannot believe the author has not stepped out, regardless of what she’s being told. To hide behind this company is nothing I could ever muster. What an absolute slap in the face! This company deserves what they will get. How unfortunate that your images, our images can be shoplifted so nonchalantly. Thank you for sharing so we as consumers can take appropriate action as well. Rise up girl.

      Like

  2. Sue says:

    Will not be buying the book. Disappointed in the author, very disappointed in Fox Chapel. FYI! I do click on images in Pinterest and Instagram to find artists names to buy patterns, read their blogs and postings.

    Like

  3. 2shorkie says:

    So disturbing and easy for them to do. I had a pattern copied and renamed, even used my drawings and descriptions . I didn’t try to do anything about it. Wasn’t sure I could. Hope you are able to make many others aware to be careful.

    Like

  4. Jen Shaffer says:

    I’m almost more concerned with the author not having issue with it? That she is a designer and author, but doesnt stand up for others in the industry? I’m very sorry that this has happened, and frustrated that you cant be compensated fairly because you cant fight it. Which I guess is what they are banking on. How do we get every day quilters to respect copyright if this is happening with a publisher and author??!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kari Vojtechovsky says:

    Shame on you, Landauer/Fox Chapel! As a fellow graphic designer and quilt industry designer and author, this behavior is shameful and the offer of $200 was insulting.

    Like

    • mvquilts says:

      Wow, just wow… cometely mind blowing that a legitimate publisher would do something like this. Completely reprehensible that another author in the industry would even think to allow something like this and not put THEIR OWN work on the cover to begin with!!!
      I am so sorry you have to go through this and so grateful you are sharing it so we all can learn. Thank you!
      I love your work and I know your talent will prevail in this sad story, at the end.

      Like

  6. Cocoa Quilts says:

    Nicole, I am so sorry you are going through this. It would be great if a quilter/attorney found this and took up your cause. It is sad that the author is responding.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anne Dawson says:

    It is appalling that a company would behave this way and not correct their mistake!!!!
    I agree with everything you have said and done. I must admit that I am surprised that they can get away with such an obvious breach of copyright.

    Like

  8. Quilting mom says:

    I just looked at their web page and it looks like they pulled the image from the web site. It shows the book but ‘image unavailable’ instead of a cover. You go girl!

    Like

  9. Julie G-AZ says:

    This is wrong on so many levels! I can’t believe there are not processes at the publishing companies to eliminate this from occurring. I also can’t believe that any author would select or allow to be selected a picture of a project that she didn’t make or wasn’t made by one of her pattern testers! And a project of which isn’t even included in the book. At every step the actions of those involved seem dishonest and unethical. I will not buy anything from this publisher or from this author ever! I have a couple of books that were published for So Kind of Wonderful. I will be passing on any future books unless they moved to a different publisher. Every one needs to vote with their dollars!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kathleen Moisan says:

    It seems to me that there is little in place to stop a company from stealing another’s work if they can so easily get away with putting your work on their book cover. I would be outraged!! If I ever see this book in person you can be sure I will let everyone within ear shot know the cover was has stolen art work! I will never knowingly purchase from this company. It’s criminal as far as I’m concerned!

    Like

  11. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing, it’s so important for us to know the character of the organizations with whom we might consider transacting. I hope the publisher realizes how deep the cameraderie runs within the quilting community and feels the burn of taking its consumer base for granted. Artists do not support those who steal from artists and I will not be patronizing their work in the future.
    Love love love your work – keep on.

    Like

  12. Nann says:

    I wish I had read this before the American Lubrary Association Midwinter Meeting, which concluded yesterday, because Fox Chapel/Landsuer was a vendor at the trade show. Not that I could change your situation but I could have made a statement to the sales rep……….And watermarking is one thing going ahead but how do you go back? Pinterest photos get pinned and then pinned by others. A twisty road.

    Like

  13. Va Steel says:

    I have posted a link to this blog on Fox Chapel’s FB page. They have a response to an earlier comment that they have offered an “appropriate” usage fee.

    Like

  14. Bonnie Madura says:

    Here I was ready to order this book, now not so much.
    Following the line of another comment, Just where is the outrage from the author? This image will be attributed to her and she has no answer as to why there is no pattern from her. Makes her look incompetent and deceitful. I don’t know the answer since the harm has already been done and seemingly cannot be undone. So sorry this happened to you and possibly many others. Really, we as consumers don’t realize the damage that is being done by those who are supposed to know what they are doing, much less those that do not know what harm that they are doing. Information that you have given in this post should be a wake up to all. I am seeing more and more warnings from other designers about this problem, hopefully we, as consumers, will pay attention and follow the rules of decency and law

    Like

  15. Penny Haren says:

    Penny Haren here. I am sick about this! Here is the back story: I was teaching a class several years ago and some folks from Landauer heard all of the hints I gave in class and wanted to do a book on them. I sent them 100 of these tips and tricks and they put together this booklet. I am working with a known publisher. It never occurred to me that they did not design the cover themselves or did not have permission to use it. A friend of yours let me know about this a few months ago and I forwarded it onto Fox Chapel – who said they would take care of it. I thought they had!
    I am on a royalty basis for this book and have not yet received ANY money for writing the book. What if we have Fox Chapel pay those royalties to you? I have no idea how many copies have been sold – but at least you would be paid a percentage of each book sold.
    If that is acceptable, I will have Fox Chapel contact you to complete the paperwork!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Elisabeth DeMoo says:

    Wow!!! This is horrible. I love this photo and when I see it I instantly think of you. Four hundred dollars for a cover photo is a joke!! Saying sorry for the mistake doesn’t make it better. In reality they should have to pull the books on the market and print it again and mail them all out to vendors again. In all honesty thinking back to my days at the design agency I worked at, I can see how this could happen. There was a Art Director that would alway go on vacation when ever he had a deadline to send a project to the printer leaving it for someone else to deal with. On one project there was an issue with a photo placed, it didn’t fit the dedicated space so the Art Director had copied an area many times over leaving hard edges making it fit the space. I was asked to send out the files and it ended up getting printed as it. I was in the process of fixing the issue (cloning parts of the photo to blend the edges) but almost got trouble for taking to long and was told to just send the files out as approved. I really don’t know if they had bought the rights to that image because I wan’t part of the project. I don’t think anyone saw the issue with the image until after it was printed. I am overly sensitive to this issue because I wouldn’t want to get in trouble for it and I wouldn’t want someone to use my images. I totally agree that watermarking takes to long, can be removed or even cropped out. Thank you for sharing and I wish you a better outcome then you currently faced with.

    Like

  17. Candace says:

    I was one of the people who bought the book based solely on your sewing mat pictured in the cover. I was furious that their is no pattern for it. I think that is bad business from this so called publishing company. I will be sending them a letter telling them so. I felt ripped off. I am appalled that they can get away with this for you!

    Like

    • nicole young says:

      I’m so sorry! That is another point that they don’t even realize. People being upset that the pattern isn’t included and that possibly portraying negatively on me! I hope you were able to find my free pattern on my site here! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and comment and express your opinions to them!

      Like

  18. Rebecca says:

    I am so sorry! I can’t believe a company would be so insulting and it’s downright thievery! Shame, shame, shame! I am a maker of the mat and I love mine. Thank you for your gift of a free pattern.

    Like

  19. Di Auckland says:

    A similar thing happened to me. I shared an idea for an English lesson which included using a particular children’s book. The leader of the course sent it to a well known publisher who used my exact work. I didn’t know until I bought the textbook a year later. No recognition for my work at all.
    I was upset and hurt as I had thought that the course leader was a friend.

    Like

  20. Bronwyn says:

    I have left a message expressing my dismay at the publisher’s incompetence on their FB page but have noticed that their IG page is removing any comments relating to your issue.
    Best wishes to you and I hope the stress of this situation will ease for you.

    Like

  21. farmquilter says:

    You have a stolen picture on the front of a book by Penny Haren. Penny has at least apologized to Nicole Young, but radio silence from you. Completely unprofessional. I will be passing the word along via every social media platform for all my fellow crafters to be on the alert for you using stolen pictures – maybe theirs – on your books. I will never buy a book published by you or a subsidiary of yours, and I’ll recommend the same to every follower I have around the world. I’ll make sure you get as much coverage as possible as the sleazy publisher you are and people need to be aware that you are happy to use stolen pictures on the cover of books to promote them. You are screwing over a “little guy”, but there are some big fish in the ocean I swim in and they will happily take you to court over this!!

    This is what I sent them…off to alert the rest of my world!!! I’ll be linking back to this page so you can tell your own story.

    Like

  22. Emily says:

    I’d be willing to donate if you started a GoFundMe to hire an attorney and fight this. I’m sure the rest of the quilting community would do the same! Your work is beautiful and I am disgusted with the publisher for this act. Who knows how many times they’ve gotten away with this.

    Like

  23. DippyDyes says:

    Thank you for posting this. What’s your last name? It’s not something we think to include in our posts – naturally! Your story showed up back to back with another anonymous-to-me social media post, so it stood out.
    It’s good you could vent here, and you have my sympathy. Wish I could offer more than my best wishes.

    Like

  24. Beth H says:

    LADIES!!!! (and gents) We as quilters and/or industry professionals, should all think about using our considerable purchasing power as our muscle. In 2017 it was estimated that quilters would spend $3.7 billion and estimated to have 7 to 10 million quilters in the U.S (source http://www.quilts.com/news-and-info-qia-survey.html). To show our dissatisfaction with this sort of behavior we should consider a boycott of Fox Chapel Publishing, which also owns Landauer Publishing (many quilting and sewing titles). We have the power and we have the court of public opinion at our disposal. I for one will not purchase a Fox Chapel/Landauer book until 2021! Join Me?

    Like

  25. Melissa Lewis Reilly says:

    If anyone has any doubts about the appropriate fees for use of images — for the book itself and ALLLL the promotional uses you’ve captured here — all you need to do is look at the fees and terms of use on any image library website, whether Getty, photostock, adobe and on and on.
    Lastly – i cannot help but burst out laughing when i see “Copyrighted Material” at the top of the cover.

    Like

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