Educating Copyright Thieves…

January 20th, 2015 | Posted in General

… one at a time.


Dear Lettie,

No doubt you are well aware of this, but several of the items you have for sale in your Etsy store use caricatures of mine, taken from my website and colorized/manipulated into T-shirt designs. You do not have permission to use my work and are in direct violation of my copyright. Here are links to the offending items:

Matt Smith, Tom Baker, Daniel Craig, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Lautner (again), Tom Baker (again)

This is a courtesy letter to give you a chance to remove these items from your store. If they are still active by tomorrow morning at this time, I will initiate copyright infringement report protocol to Etsy, something they do not tolerate well.

I notice you have a number of other caricature-based items using work that is likely not your own… in fact I recognized the work of a few caricaturists I know among them. I would advise you to remove them as well, as I will be sending an alert out to the caricaturist community that you are a serial infringer and others should check your store to make sure none of their work has been stolen. The caricature world is a small one and this sort of thing does not go unnoticed for long.

You should know that images on the internet are not free for your use. If you did not create it yourself, it does not belong to you and cannot be used by you without permission of the person that did create it. It’s very simple. Don’t steal images.

I’m sure you will do the right thing and there will be no need to involve Etsy and put you in a bad position with them. Thanks for your quick action in this matter. I am happy to have been able to educate you on this issue, and am sure you will respect the copyrights of artists in the future. Have a wonderful day.

Tom Richmond

That took several minutes of my life I won’t get back, but another ignorant copyright thief educated is one less out there in the world.

Many thanks to Jedd Bluhm, who alerted me to the issue.


  1. Ron McGeary says:

    Well done, Tom. In just one month, I’ve been alerted by my agent to two infringements of this nature, and have had to take similar action. When will these thieves learn!!

  2. danmccartist says:

    Can we copy your letter so we don’t have to waste minutes of our own or do you own the copyright on that too? (kinda kidding) ~;^}

  3. To me that is like taking your child. You created something from nothing, and some creep comes along and bastardises your soul. It’s pittiful that this guy doesn’t have any talent of his own. He has absolutely no right to be on Etsy, or any other monetary web site.

  4. Ed Steckley says:

    I guess this means my Taylor Lautner shirt will be delayed.

  5. Susana Rodrigues says:

    The background pattern is from here:
    this person also stole something that is copyrighted from threadless as well.

  6. So I followed the links to check out the Etsy listings. Every single one of the rip off were credited to some guy named Aaron , recent grad from the art institute. Did they not cover ethics at his school….this is just sad!

  7. Edd Travers says:

    Thanks for heads up on this Tom. And to Jedd Bluhm. I notice that my Twilight caricature of Robert Pattinson has been ripped off also! They’ll be hearing from me also shortly.

  8. Tim Paul says:

    Save your breath; send Etsy a C&D letter explaining that person is violating your copyright and they will take her shop down.

    Most sites like etsy and society6 will do that when informed.

    And so you know, if you were to try and sell prints of these copyrighted images yourself, you’d be violation of the companies copyrights on those characters. Not to mention each State in America has different laws regarding the making of art using a celebrities likeness and selling or distributing reproductions of the image. They have the right to decide how they want their likeness used.

    You own your expression of the character, but under copyright law, you are limited to what you can do with it.

    • Tom says:

      I’m very well aware of laws regarding copyright, Right of publicity and parody, thanks. In this case you are talking about a celebrity’s Right of Publicity, not copyright… at least in terms of my caricature of Matt Smith. Right of Publicity and copyright does not apply to parody. You can use the likeness of a celebrity and copyrighted characters if you are making fun of them, their industry, or their work/art/reason for fame, within an accepted vehicle of free speech i.e. a book, publication, or fine art. Whether just a caricature of a celebrity constitutes a parody is a matter for a court to decide, but parody proper is exempt from copyright infringement. See: MAD Magazine for the last 60 plus years.

      • Tim Paul says:

        Dr Who, and Matt Smith as Dr Who are copyrighted characters owned by the BBC.

        • Tom says:

          Matt Smith in a bow tie is not Doctor Who any more than Sean Connery in a tuxedo is James Bond. There is nothing in that picture that is a copyrighted element from the DW series.

  9. Jack Hunter says:

    Looks like Lettie has taken down all the infringing images provided by her brother Aaron. Hopefully she passed along the copyright lesson you provided, though I can still see the Daniel Craig image you’d referenced in your letter showing up on his portfolio page.

  10. This is a really important topic for us at Innovation to Profits. You can send a DMCA takedown notice to Etsy (or any ISP where your copyright is being infringed). Here’s a free template that anyone can use to protect their creative work – hope it helps:

  11. nunz says:

    There is just an unwarranted sense of entitlement out there, and it’s not only with graphic artwork. I recently read a story about a woman who had a karaoke business and pirated the music she used. When the karaoke company sued her she complained that SHE was the victim because they were following her parties!?!? In her mind it’s perfectly okay to steal your work and then turn right around and go profit from it herself. I’m sure in Lettie’s mind YOU’RE the bad guy. How DARE you deny her! UGH!

  12. janicefried says:

    You handled that with such class. Very well done. Lettie is now selling jewelery, I see.

  13. Daniel Kinske says:


    I feel your pain. I had a really awesome digital drawing (of my dumb idea) done by the amazing Mark Fredrickson of Groucho Marx with Lydia the Tattooed Lady and it was emailed to a few specific people, but still was leaked and is posted and printed all over the Internet and even physically printed out and framed in a Hollywood bookstore nearby me (though the quality of the image is poor) and it is a bummer as you work really hard with an artist to help them create something really amazing and the wind gets taken out of your sails before your own use.
    I think your Sherlock Holmes and Batman series caricatures are so amazing. Keep up the sempiternal stellar work!

    -daniel 🙂

  14. Terrible. But it happens unfortunately.I noticed the drawing of Dr who had lost resemblance in the colored version before reading the article. Amd then when I read it I understood. What a shame.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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