I really hate to generalize about an entire nation. I have know many Russians and they are wonderful, kind, and generous people. As a teacher in Alaska I had Russian students who were outstanding. I have had my artwork stolen by Russians more than any other nationality. I went through my records and found that Russia has the lead with 13 incident, followed by the USA with 7, Mexico with 3, France and Brazil with 2 each, followed by Turkey, Lithuanian, Czech, Croatia, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, and Greece with 1 each.
So why do I have such a problem with so many Russians stealing my artwork? I have had several Russian Rock Bands use my art without permission and when I contact them they just don’t care! I had a Russian Fashion House use my artwork to sell t-shirts. Four emails ignored but a DMCA letter actually worked. It might be a language issue but most Russian I know speak English better than Americans. Maybe it is that Viking ancestry and a general lack of fear. Maybe. I think it might be a sense that they can get away with anything. Obviously language is a huge obstacle but with online language conversions it is not an insurmountable problem. The problem with dealing with Russian Image Thieves is the way Russia has set up internet entities. Most of these exclude anyone from outside Russia, so when I find a rock band or blogger using my images I am powerless. In order to contact a member of these many online groups you must register and after struggling to complete the form you will be denied membership. Very frustrating, there is no way to contact them beyond digging into the IPS bowels of their server or host. I have had limited luck using DMCA letters, some host service companies comply others can’t be bothered.
My latest Russian image thief is a Polish / Russian Fashion company. It started as a Polish Business but it is now a Russian company . It is called MDA Fashion Group, their brands are MEDICINE and DIVERSE….Polish cloths. I discovered that MDA had a link to Medicine on their website and has been using my artwork as well as several other artist without permission, consent, or compensation. What is really frustration is that the catalog is digital, they don’t spend a dime on printing but they stand to net millions of dollars from the products in their catalog!!! Hey, I know that they have to pay designers, photographers, and models but what are visual artists, chopped liver???? Why do they feel that the art used in the catalog should be free, don’t the artist deserve some compensation? I am just one of five artists whose work was stolen for this catalog. Link to my artwork: https://www.etsy.com/listing/76671855/raven-raven-phoenix-crow-series-the
I have sent them three emails, one through their website and two, with Russian Translations through my email. I also contacted Medicine. I have not heard back. so time for the DMCA letter and a little public shaming.
Update: I just received a reply from the Russian Server: “… applied if the Customer uses the virtual web-server and/or virtual mail server with the purpose of distributing and advertising obscene material, appeals for violence, extremist activities, appeals for overthrowing of government and others, and also the activity harmful to public interest, humanitarian and moral principles, insulting human dignity or religious feelings, etc. Since aforementioned material is absent on this website, we cannot block the virtual web-server and/or virtual mail server mda-fg.ru.
RU-CENTER is not a competent authority to determine the presence of elements of crime in the actions of its clients. If RU-CENTER receives such an order from the Internal Affairs Agencies or such a court decision, RU-CENTER will be entitled to block the hosting services.
Please note also that according to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation all disputes over exclusive rights should be resolved only in court……..On the territory of the Russian Federation DMCA law was not taken. To block a site that violates any third party’s copyright, it is necessary the decision of court of the Russian Federation.”
So in other words The Russian Government nor Russian Hosting Servers do NOT protect intellectual property. I guess I was justified in being suspicious about Russian Internet Thieves, they are protected by the Russian Law. I guess it is time to lawyer up!!!!
Later in the day I received another email from the Russian Government. The sender told me that there is a branch of the government that is cracking down of this kind of thing. I sent off an email to the government office.
July 2 update: I just received an email from MDA. They are blaming the Polish company Medicine. Wait.. I thought they were partners..They are partners and the catalog appears on the MDA site. MDA insisted that I need to contact their partners myself, I did and heard nothing from them. Since the catalog appeared on the MDA site MDA should be dealing with this. They said they would only remove the images after I apologize. Really!!! They need to apologize and admit fault. They ignored my emails until I send them a link to this post…..how typical.
MDA Fashion Group is angry about my use of the words “Steal” and “Thief “- here are the definitions of each word. I think they should have similar definitions in any language….
verb (used with object), stole, sto•len, steal•ing.
1. to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch.
2.to appropriate (ideas, credit, words, etc.) without right or acknowledgment.
n, pl thieves
1. a person who steals something from another
2. Anyone that steals can be called a thief.
MDA and Medicine, the fact is you used artwork without permission and profited by doing so, you made no effort to discover the image owners. A simple Google Image Search would led you to the image owners.
Final Update July 2: I just received another email from MDA Fashion Group. It is obvious from his/her remarks that MDA has no respect for copyright, nor does he/ she respect an artists right to protect that copyright. Understand that the person writing this is not a native English speaker but their intent is perfectly clear:
So MDA Fashion Group, here you are….shame on you!!!
http://mda-fg.ru/files/mdcn-present-autumn%2714.pdf o0ps they removed the catalog 😉