Thursday, March 23, 2006

Productive Anger Is Better Than A Pity Party!

Nothing makes you more productive that a good mad. I had my Pity Party last night when I wrote my blog and cried all over the keyboard. The girls and Nick all gave me big hugs when I calmed down enough to just look blotchy. Talk about a great teaching example for the girls. They see first hand how supposedly innocent sharing or downloading really hurts the person who created the magic in the first place and will therefore speak up among their friends. They know to spend an iTunes card and buy the downloads rather than steal them.
Ironically, discovering these sites came just after booking our flights for the trade show in Charlotte this summer and writing up the entry for the show guide which announced the release of my most complex design ever this summer. It is called “Santa’s Dragon” and the thought that there will be people just waiting to share that illegally as soon as they get their hands on a copy was almost more than I could bear. One poster on the Multiply site last night was raving about getting a copy of Stargazer a full 20 days before her shop in Europe would have it and now she could stitch it for free!! I was ready to just turn my site black and walk away. Why bother designing a product that is so easy to steal? Why invest the time, effort and money to create a quality product when there are people out there who have so little respect for what you do that they have to yell at you when you defend the rights of your own work and continue to steal?

This morning, however, I had a chance to move from sorrow to anger. I also felt the support from stitchers as they e-mailed their support having read my blog last night. So, instead, I set up my own page on at with a blog and a copy of the Copyrights & Copywrongs poster that I designed for the INRG (since I am the copyright holder) so that hopefully some of the stitchers who don’t realize that what they are doing is wrong can learn what they may or may not legally do. I also wrote a blog entry there and will keep that up as a portal/presence on Multiply.

I was able to write Cease & Desist letters to all of the sites that had my images on them, except for a Japanese one, as well as report those users for Terms Of Service violations. I wrote my local Member of Parliament to see how I can get involved furthering copyright issues in Canada, contacted the people who put together the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival in Toronto to see if we can’t bring this before the media a bit during one of the shows this year, came up with some game plans that fellow designers and I could use to make the companies such as Yahoo and Multiply more aware of the abuse going on, complained to a few of the advertisers that had ads which Google placed on those sites to let them know how their ad dollars were being associated with, talked to our local ISP about ways to dig for identity information and find out about joining one of the groups that works with Interpol and the RCMP here in Canada.

All in all, it was a productive day in terms of trying to defend my artwork and copyrights. It didn’t let me get to the end of THE BOX, nor do any designing, but at least it has made me shelve the idea of becoming a goat herder on a tropical island. Last night that held a lot of appeal. At least if times are tough you can eat a goat. Leaflets aren’t tasty, even with ketchup!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I WIsh I Had The Energy To Get Angry...

I know that will come in the morning. By then the urge to just curl up in a ball in my office and have a good cry will have passed, and I will be ready to deal with the reality that I create things that are easy to steal.

Right now, all I can do is blog. After a day spent doing what I hate the most, trying to sort out invoices and run my business properly, I get e-mails from fellow designers who have found 3 huge sites trading thousands of cross stitch patterns, including many of mine. I am starting to realize that while most stitchers are indeed honest people,a few bad apples have the potential and technology to totally decimate this industry. Sadly as well, when Linn Skinner and her friends first raised this issue in 2001, the industry turned a blind eye and key players in the industry have continued to do so. Now, just a scant 5 years later, I am slowly coming to the realization that it may be just too late to close that barn door. Companies like Leisure Arts, Disney and other giants in the industry failed to pay attention to warnings and prosecute copyright infringers because they didn’t want to look like the “bad guys”. But tonight, I can stare at page after page after page of copyrighted material, with my carefully crafted copyright statements that were just ignored as they were scanned in.

I know the hoops that I am going to have to go through to get these removed. I know the faxes that I will have to send long distance to some copyright agent to prove that this is indeed my own stuff. I know that the true identities of those who are doing this will never be revealed, even though I never bother to hide who I am... and I know that copies of those files have already been “shared” so many times that I cannot possibly blot them all out.
Yet all someone who wants to steal from me needs to do is go surfing, or scan an image and set up a site in a few minutes to share something with the world that they had no hand, so sweat, no effort in creating.

I wish I could get angry. Maybe by tomorrow I will be able to. Right now, all I can do is weep.
Creative Types and Order... or Bag, Spawn of Box

I refuse to let chaos win!! It turns out that THE BOX has spawned a Bag!! I have no idea where the bag came from, but as I was getting down to the bottom of THE BOX, there was a bag, stuffed full of its own mess of receipts, papers, paid bills, notes, sketches, bits of fabric and fibers... some dating back to 2003?? Perhaps BAG is the Mother of the Box?
I shudder at this proof that if chaos is left long enough in a forgotten corner of my office, it will reproduce. This is worse that dust bunnies!!

Actually, this is one of my worst nightmares. For as long as I can remember, I have hated tidying. Oh, I love the order it produces, and I love the sense of knowing where everything is for the day or so it seems to last. I guess that means that I’ve always been a messy, cluttered child. I can remember being sent to my room in order to deal with a desk or surface that finally had to be dealt with, usually right before a favourite TV program was due to come on as an added incentive for speed. Once or twice a year, the second closet in my bedroom, where I tossed everything I didn’t immediately need during these desk and bureau tidies, would have to be dealt with and it felt much the same as it does to me now. It makes me want to SCREAM!

Of course, having iTunes on Party Shuffle has made things more bearable today. I never realized what an eclectic mix of music that Nick and I own until Josh Groban and Great Big Sea followed Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash with a little Kate Bush, Queen and Earth, Wind and Fire sandwiched in there!

The sense of satisfaction is also growing as yet another blue garbage bag (dry paper recyclables) of shredded paper I no longer need fills in the middle of my floor and each receipt gets safely into its proper brown paper envelope, but it has started me thinking about being creative and seeking order.

Are most creative types messier by nature? There will certainly be exceptions to that generalization, just as there are exceptions to every stereotype, but is there something in our brains that make those intuitive leaps or juggle lots of textures, ideas and thoughts around at once that make us more prone to clutter or the act of leaving things unfinished? If I try to train myself, can I make myself take the time to get each receipt which comes into my office filed away in its proper place instead of just setting it down on the desk to deal with later? What invariably happens is that I need to clear the desk, so I set the still undealt with pile somewhere else.... and eventually, you have THE BOX!

There.... the BAG has officially been put to rest. Now there is just the rest of THE BOX to deal with. I must go up and get some lunch first, however, or I will never have the strength to push on an vanquish this foe! (Imagine heroic James Horner music in the background as I lift myself off the carpeted cement floor and discover just what it feels like to have a 36 inch inseam worth of leg go pins and needles!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Community...Where Is Yours?

I’d planned to write about something else today. Yesterday a touch of some bug had me feeling shivery, achy and total unproductive, so I went to bed at the same time as Erin and slept the night through.

This afternoon, one of Bethany’s friends got off the bus and came home with her in tears because her baby-sitter hadn’t been out at the bus stop to pick her up. Lindsay and Bethany are in the same class and our families share the bus stop every day, so her mom and I have swapped off before, especially if I’ve been at trade shows. This was indeed a daycare day, but no one was there to pick her up... no wonder she was in a panic about what to do!

So I’ve called everyone I need to in order to sort this out and the girls are playing happily upstairs. We’ll get to homework in a few minutes, but it made me realize two things....

One, as hard or frustrating as it is to work from home some days, this is a time when it is really worth it.

Second, when something happens that is unexpected, having a sense of community with my neighbours is really what the word community is all about.

Where is your community? How have you reached out to be a part of your surroundings? It takes a bit of effort and trust to make friends or even casual acquaintances with the people in your neighbourhood, but then in times of trial, you have others to lean on. I can remember a scary night a few years ago when one of our neighbour’s houses caught fire just after Christmas. Luckily the home was saved and the top floor could be rebuilt/repaired, but the kids lost quite a few of their presents, clothes got damaged etc. The outpouring from the community in terms of help, food, clothing etc. was immediate and appreciated.

This morning I learned of the Cyclone that hit Queensland, Australia on Monday morning. While it is half a world away from me here, I am still keenly aware that this too is my community in a way. I have lots of fans in Australia that e-mail me about my designs and so I am thinking of them as their lives are suddenly turned upside down. I am also reminded that we are all one community on this precious planet. It does seem that with all these incredible changes in our weather patterns and disasters, we are pushing our poor home to the brink of what it can bear. What is MY responsibility in all this to keep my community safe? The challenge is to never lose sight of what each of us can do so that the homes around us and the homes on the far side of the planet grow to be nurturing communities where we can thrive!