What is someone’s creativity and diligence worth to you?

A word about copyright.

We live in a world bursting with opportunities, with a cornucopia of innovation and design, with an endless stream of entertainment at our fingertips. Much of what is available to us comes free, through a stream of social media apps that allow us to be able to share them with our friends or just enjoy for ourselves.

But are they really free?

If we lived in a world that had to be constructed out of our own abilities, with materials we had grown, and using skills we had acquired, imagine the cardboard kingdoms most of us would be forced to survive in. But we don’t have to rely upon our own abilities. Most of what we use is available to us because someone, somewhere, had an idea, found a producer, and distributed what we want/need to us for something that benefitted them. Nowadays, it is usually money, but it once might have been swapping or trade of some sort.

I digress.

The last two weeks have forced me to face the unpleasant side of human nature, the side that would steal or snatch from someone else what is rightfully theirs. And there is that side in us, that wants something for nothing. (Just check out the terrible videos of Black Friday sales to get some idea of what we become when there’s the possibility of getting something for much less than its worth.)

I was informed by a friend on FB that someone was selling my ‘Gabeaux Tapestry’ mugs on Amazon.com. And sure enough, when I went over to Amazon and put the words Gabeaux Tapestry into the search bar, I saw my small book that I had self-published there, and also a long range of products using the words Gabeaux in the title or copy. These are exact – or close – copies of the actual products sold legitimately through Redbubble.com here. And by the way, I invented the word ‘Gabeaux’ for my tapestry as well!

My mind drifted back to the years I had gradually worked on these 32 panels of tapestry design, and the initial idea that had burgeoned in me when I saw the Bayeux Tapestry and thought of doing the same for Outlander. It was hard work, and took a long time, but I loved every minute of it. IT COST ME. To find that some unscrupulous company or person, (changing their name regularly on the product) feels it’s okay to steal and sell my design is disheartening at the very least.

ALL OF MY GABEAUX PRODUCTS are for sale solely on Redbubble here.

Thanks to all of you who have written a review on these products saying they are stolen. I do appreciate the support you have given.

Then I found that my first published book, An Unexpected Highlander, was offered for free on some sites as a download, and to make it worse, some reviews below the download stating how happy the recipient was because they had searched for a free download for ages. Seriously? It is $3.99 to get it for Kindle – a paltry sum considering how long it took to write. (Smoke was coming out of my ears at this point). I have notified the publisher. Please spend the little amount asked for to download it from Amazon here, or Boroughs here. THANKS. (And yes, please write a review!)

I moved over to Twitter for some light relief, and there amongst the Thanksgiving greetings and memes, was one I had done a year or two ago. I had used photoshop to put each member of the cast of Outlander around the table, and put Mrs Fitz and the Laird at the far end. It took a while to do this, and I got nothing but the pleasure of knowing that people would enjoy it, out of doing it. I signed it with my customary @sniskybobfry twitter handle. In this instance, though, the person who put my old meme up, had carefully cut around the edge of the piece to obliterate my name, (also cutting out some of the people at the table), and added a Happy Thanksgiving over the top. Now, in the big scheme of things, it’s nothing really. I’m glad she liked it enough to save it and use it. But it really wouldn’t have hurt to leave my name on it as author, and I might have even been credited in the post, which would have pleased me. But no, she wanted the credit for herself. Sigh.


And on that note: I AM THANKFUL for all the people who have regularly encouraged me and laughed at my memes, bought my book and my tapestry products.

Ah well, it’s amazing how precious one’s own work can become when you labour over it for hours, or days, or years—and had I never done so, I would probably not have felt the surge of disgust and dismay over the last two weeks that I have. Regardless, I will keep creating and keep hoping to make a little money out of some of what I do. And I will be careful to credit others I see doing the same—even the big fish in the pond, like Starz/Sony and their Outlander production. When I hear people suggesting there might be a way to get a copy for free from somewhere, I am equally disappointed.

Anything worth having, is worth paying for. You will value it more as well.