Sharing or Stealing?

Benjamin and Grandma

Article Index

The Steal

From the beginning of™ in 1996, the internet has enabled us to share our coloring pages with the world. Our family has grown as we've watched the world change. Our family now includes our grown daughters, their husbands, and our grandson, Benjamin. He completes his daily schoolwork on a laptop or tablet connected to the internet.

Benjamin regularly draws and paints beside me in my studio, as I work on the website. I now spend need to several days each year tracking down and identifying my stolen images. Even some of the oldest images are still being stolen! Finding the stolen coloring book images is important, but it feels like a punch to the stomach. Fans of the coloring book sometimes find the "wandering" images themselves and they'll give me a call, or one of our daughters will find them. Sometimes, I'll find them myself, with the direct help of different search engines. It's frustrating to see my signature wiped out. I deserve to have the identity and origins of my artwork preserved.

A few weeks ago, I found a horse ranch's online pages that had "borrowed" thirteen pages of my coloring book. That took some effort. I don't want to use the law and get this ranch in trouble, I just want my rights respected. Thirteen stolen images from my coloring book posted to their own Tripod-hosted account must be some sort of record. I spent over an hour filling out the copyright claim at Lycos, one claim per image. They aren't only stealing my artwork, they're stealing my time.

The Reaction

It actually helps me out when you run across stolen images and you let me know with a call or a note. I can't possibly find them all by myself. Next, I contact the service provider or the party directly and start the process of restoring my artwork to its rightful home and identity. It's an adventure finding and politely requesting compliance with my copyright claim. From my experience, the guilty party will normally deny, deny, deny; they'll assure me they paid someone to draw them, and when I tell them I was the original artist, they become unbelievably rude and even nasty. Accusations fly, and I may get an earful. They can say the most ridiculous things. They'll even blame me! I'm just a money-grubbing, selfish, etc, or they may attempt to justify their actions. If I was sharing my work, why couldn't they do the same thing? After all, they're just doing me a favor, they'll say. Sigh. 

I am pleased to report the ranch I called recently was 100% cooperative, and they removed all of my images from their server. I first had to convince them I was the actual artist calling them, but once they knew I was the original artist, they were helpful. No yelling at the artist this time.

The Resolve

When copyright infringement letters go out, their websites can be taken down. The entire offending website can be deleted by their service provider for violation of their terms of use. Knowing they'll lose everything on their site, I don't like doing it. But let's allow the artist to benefit from their own work; not the thieves. I am the artist. It's my right. The future legacy of my artwork rightfully belongs to my family; our four daughters, and our grandson, Benjamin, too.

The Result

During the pandemic, the number of images stolen and appearing on for-profit sites seemed to increase dramatically. Of course, you have the right to print and color the images from™ for your personal use. Because I love you all very much. But most of the sites posting stolen images from our site,™, are overseas corporations. They stand to make a lot of money by stealing my artwork. They end up on all sorts of animal or horse lovers' items, from tee shirts, and purses, to embroidery designs. Once they see the designs sell, they come back for more. 

The United States Federal Copyright Law exists to protect an artist's creativity from the moment a work is created. But our American law means next to nothing overseas, even though the items carrying the Stacey Mayer designs usually end up in the USA. Somehow, I need to protect my collection of artwork differently. To preserve my ability to keep sharing with you going forward, some coloring pages on will be moved behind a sort of paywall. I haven't decided how that will look yet. I realize it's become a necessary part of the natural recognition of my art, through the growth of my name recognition. Entering the NFT marketplace in early 2022 has quickly accelerated the process.

The Reward

With the site's expenses covered, I could spend more time creating. When the pages are available in a printed or downloadable form, I'll be able to keep creating new and original coloring pages, and I'll be rewarded for it. That's much more pleasant than seeing others profiting from my recognizable artwork they have stolen. 

This can go a long way in helping to support our grandson, Benjamin, who has pulmonary arterial hypertension, a progressive disease. I look forward to taking him to nearby art museums with me, taking horseback riding lessons, visiting the Houston Zoo, and going on fishing trips together with Grandpa. Most of all, knowing™ can support itself means we can grow and share more of my work with you. Eventually, Benjamin will grow to learn how to manage the self-supporting site and we can look forward to him contributing his own art to the coloring book, too.

The Legacy

Ben's doctors tell us that steady growth is the leading predictor for the future health of children like Benjamin with PAH. His current medications are working, and he's doing well. The entire family of™ and fans look forward to sharing Bejamin's progress as we continue to grow and develop the coloring book into the future.

Speaking of growing, I have folders stuffed with new drawings for the coloring book you haven't seen yet! I've created hundreds of drawings, ideas, and sketches just waiting to be shared on my hard drive. (It's a little embarrassing!) I'll ask Benjamin to help me choose a few of his favorites to share when he comes back inside. He's in the yard playing with Grandpa in the Texas sunshine at the moment...

I love you all.


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