It used to be that someone could rip off someone else's idea and get away with it. But not anymore. Post your ripoff on the internet and someone will find it!!!! So be warned.

I usually write this kind of stuff down and then tear the paper up and throw it away. It helps to get it out and then be done with it. I want my blog to be a happy place where you just come to create and forget about the world. But today I gotta stray from that a bit because this thing happened to a friend of mine and my blood is still boiling over an hour after I found out about it. So here is my post:

I have to let you know that my heart is pounding with anger tonight as I learned that someone who reads my blog and has purchased class kits from me has reproduced a fellow instructor's ideas to present as her own for a class. You know who you are (since you read my blog and so be forewarned not to copy my stuff).

Not only did they rip the idea off, they had the gall to have submitted it to the manufacturer and have it posted as a class they will be teaching at a store in Utah. Two states, three states, a world away, on the internet it is all too easy to find out when someone is ripping off an idea.

I meant to come post about National Scrapbook Day after catching up on some email this evening. But I am just so livid at the idea of this woman stealing ideas that I just have to discuss it here.

This woman to whom I am referring came to California last fall to take some classes from local instructors. She presented herself as a scrapbook fan who wanted to get into it all–meet the instructors, try new product, check out all the stores. Well, one of those instructors, a dear friend of mine, has now seen that this woman took a project she made in the instructor's class and presented it as a class at a store several states away. She never said anything about teaching classes nor did she reveal that she was seeking to be an endorsed educator with a scrapbooking manufacturer. Who cares if it was “far away”– it is still wrong.

Scraplifting is one of those touchy subjects, coming up several times a month on forums like Scrapbook.com. I scraplift–who doesn't?! It is hard not to scraplift in some form because once you look at a magazine, a gallery, or idea book, you'll see ideas and techniques and those will just work their way into your mental toolbox, waiting for just the right page for you to use that idea on. Some person somewhere was the first to use a circle in the middle of their page and now everyone is doing it–somewhere the waters get muddy and it is hard to know who to give credit to as the original inspiration. But there is a BIG difference between scraplifting and ripping off ideas. And profiting from someone else'e idea is entirely TABOO.

Let me illustrate what IS and IS NOT scraplifting (all in my never to be humble opinion, of course):

I see a row of buttons on a layout and think that is cool. I see a cluster of buttons on another page. Maybe I see buttons inside of the scallops on a scalloped border on a card. Next thing you know I do something with buttons on a page–maybe even put buttons inside of scallops. When I make my page I am not looking at another person's page/project and copying it–I just remember the cool ideas I saw for buttons and use one. This is NOT scraplifting in my opinion. The reason people put stuff out to be published, on a blog, in a mag, in a gallery, or in a book is to inspire others and to share our love for this craft. The idea is meant to be used!

I see a layout in a magazine and totally love it. I copy it exactly, referencing the layout in the magazine while I am making my page. This IS scraplifting. It is okay to scraplift–just give proper credit, for example: I was inspired by the layout by Jennifer Priest on page 34 of CK, April 2009… hey, I can dream.

I see that same layout and decided I want to change the color scheme completely, but I still follow the same basic layout, maybe substituting flowers for buttons and punching a border from paper instead of using stitching like they used in the original layout. This IS scraplifting. You still have to give credit.

People say I reveal too many “secrets” on my blog. And I laugh! Yeah, I do reveal alot, I like to share. I like that this craft is all about community as well as crafting. I never took classes to learn what I know. I learned from trial and error, of course, but I also learned from more experienced fellow crafters who showed me the ropes at crops and such. Barbara taught me all about Quickutz. Denise took me to my first Expo and showed me all things altered. PJ inspired me to sew more on my pages. Stephanie shared her doodling secrets. Michelle helped me with trying to get published. Nan and Jessica gave me hundreds of pointers about the Bind It All. Tina taught me alot about ribbon! And there are tons more people who I learned things from, here and there. If it were not for those who were willing to share, I would not be in the position I am in today. I would not know the things I know and I would not have been able to use those as springboards to further creativity. So I share all that I can, in hopes that I can inspire someone else to take what they have learned to create something on their own.

I am not one that believes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — it isn't in all cases. I LOVE it when someone comes up to me after a class and tells me how they used what they learned to create their own page. I love it when someone scraplifts a page idea of mine or a technique I shared. I don't like it when it is exactly the same as mine (unless I taught it as a class). And I definitely don't like people to copy stuff for their profit. This is not to say people have a patent on something if they decide to use it. Using the word “Lucky” on a St. Patty's Day project does not mean everyone in the world who uses “lucky” in a class or to get pubbed has to pay you royalties–this whole thing is very subjective but really it is just common sense.

For example, I have copied a few ideas from my friend Elena, specifically her heart shaped cookie cutter book and an apron shaped book she made. BOTH times I asked her if I could use her idea. If she did not give me her blessing, I would not have used it. Does she have a patent on heart shaped books? No, of course not. But since I had already seen her book, it would seem a little suspiscious for me to now make a heart shaped book. There is no way I could have made that heart shaped book without referencing back to what I remembered seeing in her book becasue those ideas were now in my head.

For this reason, I take very few classes. I don't want the other instructor to think I am copying them or stealing their techniques. I take classes mostly so I can “see what all the hype is about”, especially from celebrity instructors. What makes their class enjoyable? How do they treat the students–what works and what doesn't? Plus it is nice to be on the “other side of the table” and remember what it is like to try to follow a teacher and create something that is not your own–it reminds me to slow down when I am teaching my own classes! LOL I am there more for teaching style and the experience than for the project.

Here's the rule of thumb — its the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Feel free to copy for your own use in your own books that you aren't going to make money on. Just don't copy if you're submitting something as your own work, be it in a class (unless you get permission from the original designer first), for a contest, for a design team, for a magazine, or to a manufacturer. Sure, there will always be those people out there who copy things and that is a risk I take as an instructor and someone who likes to post alot of stuff on my blog. Just don't post your copy on the internet or out in public as your own work cuz I just might find it…or a friend of mine will find it and send it to me…and you don't wanna know what happens next! LOL

Happy Creating (your own stuff of course–hehe). I'll post all about NSD tomorrow! Now off to do something creative with all this pent up energy I have…

Author: Jennifer Priest

It started with jewelry, beading, sewing, home decor, painting, basket weaving, pottery, and cross-stitch. Marry that to an entrepreneurial spirit & at 9 years old a girl is selling her wares at craft fairs as far as her parents and grandparents would drive her. These days, Jennifer enjoys crafts of all genres from sewing to scrapbooking to jewelry with a little dabbling in the mixed media world. Her style is approachable and she wants everyone who sees her work to feel that they too can embrace creativity and make their home and life beautiful.

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8 thoughts on “The Power of the Internet & A Touchy Subject

  1. THANK YOU, i understand your anger and it is a shame you have to explain this. It is the same as plagerism and anyone that does it knows better.Shame on that lady!
    ms.cheryl

    Posted on May 5, 2009 at 5:05 am
  2. I will be the first to admit I scraplift. I also ask FIRST, and I also GIVE CREDIT where credit is due. I change things up a bit, add this and that, put this over there. But if the idea came from someone, I will post, “got this idea from so and so”.

    I just loved this post…and I hope that the person who stoled, has a change of heart and gives credit.

    Also…thank you so much Jennifer for the other night. EVERYONE loved your little book. You did a FANTASTIC JOB!!

    ~:~carol~:~

    Posted on May 5, 2009 at 5:34 am
  3. That SUCKS! Sorry that someone would do that to you, and I’m sure others!

    Posted on May 5, 2009 at 6:39 am
  4. It’s so disappointing to see this happen. I applaude you for making the post. Copying without permission and FOR PROFIT are defintely wrong. I agree that as a DT member and intructor…we are vulnerable. I,too, continue to do my woork anyway. But this type of behavior gives scrapping a black eye.

    Posted on May 5, 2009 at 11:53 am
  5. WOW… can’t believe some one would actually do that… that sucks!!! Your work is wonderful and unique…. and should not be ripped off!! It should be appreciated and adored!!!
    Talk to you soon
    Cheryl

    Posted on May 5, 2009 at 5:00 pm
  6. Shame… its happened to most of us but its so upsetting when it does, can feel your anger all the way of here!!

    Posted on May 6, 2009 at 11:49 am
  7. Jennifer…you didn’t mention what I have taught you….LOL! Just kidding…sorry this has happened to you, that does suck! Miss you…

    Posted on May 14, 2009 at 7:19 pm
  8. well said Jennifer!

    Posted on May 17, 2009 at 12:45 am