illos,  Shop Talk

Stop Thief!

It’s going to be hard for me to write this post so please bear with me. I’m full of emotion and not really in the right frame of mind to be putting sentences together.

stop thief 1

You may have heard that one of my illustrations got stolen and has been used as the masthead for a website that gathers news and helpful hints for mothers. It’s bad enough that they are using my illustration as their main logo and top graphic but they’ve also plastered that same image on every single cafépress item available. My illo that I created from my heart is plastered like baby throw up all over teddy bears and mugs and t-shirts. I am ill. I would never do this. I would never let anyone do this. It is sickening.

stop thief 2

About a year ago I sold this image to a company (who is NOT momsbuzz) who holds all rights to it. I am under contract to this company. This company and only this company can use this graphic. So what does this mean? It means that I have all the legal rights in the world to bust the mom site who is using my image. But it also means that I’ve been naive and an idiot to think I could share my work with the world wide internet and not have it get stolen. I have to take everything down and protect it.

I’m going back to ground zero. I’ve taken all my galleries down and protected all of my illustrations that were up on flickr. I’m starting over. I haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to do. I want to have a body of work up on the internet for people to see but I have to do it in such a way that it can’t get ripped off so easily.

I’m not a web designer and I don’t know flash so this is going to be something that takes a long time. It makes me sad but at the same time, starting fresh is always a good thing. I needed a redesign anyway.

MomsBuzz has until midnight tonight to take the image down. After that it’s war. I’ve asked nicely. I could sue for all the profits they’ve made off my image but I don’t want that. I just want my illustration back. I loved that little illo.

Update: A public apology has been made. It’s getting better.


  • bt

    I’ve been a lurking for a while and I think your illustrations are great. I’ve often thougth you could make a fortune if they turned them into stickers, papers or rubber stamps for scrapbooking. Good luck with the fight.

  • sarah

    i’ve emailed them… the jerks.

    “Behind Moms’ Buzz
    We are two moms juggling home chores, parenting, work, marriage and the inevitable pesky hormones. Faced with these challenges on a daily basis is draining. We created Mom’s Buzz to give you different options and to make the time with kids and the whole family more fun and enjoyable!”

    i’m not having fun with their blatant stealing of your illos. and their thievery is draining on everyone… how can they represent mothers this way?

    (i love your october masthead, too. gorgeous.)

  • C

    I’m delurking to say that I’m so sorry this is happening to you! Your illustrations are beautiful, fun, and creative and I always come to your site because they make me smile.

  • Carly

    I sent an email to a woman listed under Press on the MomBuzz site to let her know what happened. After receiving my email, she sent a message to the site. This is what she just emailed back:

    “I agree with you that it is frustrating. I emailed Mom’s Buzz, and apparently the site designer assured everyone she had legitimately purchased the image in question.

    If so, then this is bad for both sides…a) because as a writer, I’m always concerned about protection of artist rights and b) that a legit businesswoman online has gotten snookered by someone dishonest and is having the reputation of her site destroyed unfairly.”

  • Randi

    Geez!! I’m so sorry to hear this has happened to you! What in the world is going on with people stealing other’s material in the internet world these days!? First Flickr, now this!? It’s just sickening:(

  • Sam

    What a mess! I’m so sorry – I can’t imagine how awful it feels to see your hard work misused. But please…it’s time to go to the mattresses. You do NOT have to be nice about this. I know your Internetfriends will help you in whatever way we can. Now, reading Carly’s comment, I don’t want to bombard anyone unless you tell us to. So, I will wait for word.

  • Katherine Gray

    I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I haven’t read through all the comments so forgive me if this is repititive. You said you sold this to another company. Are they responsible for defending the copyright, or are you? Either way, they should be notified. They may be the ones who have to do this work, not you.

  • Adele

    SAJ- I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. You are so talented, and I love to LOOK at your work. I will miss enjoying it, and just because other people can’t keep their hands to themselves.

  • Michelle


    SAJ – You have a TON of supporters behind you on this, and frankly it just makes me ill that these two women would do this. Your art work and designs are precious, one of a kind, and are so special to so many people! It will all work out.

    Wish I could do something to help out….like be a copy right infringemant attorney who could practice law in Cali. Talk about a shark attack!!!!!!

    Hugs for ya,

  • erika

    this is horrible. some people are just thoughtless. your artwork is and always will be an inspiration to me. this does make me think more than twice about posting my images as well.

    i think four letters on my site may be all she wrote. or putting a huge watermark on them.

    not sure, keep us posted! i left a comment on her site but i doubt it will be posted, they are being “moderated”. lame.

  • kristenv

    Delurking to say am behind you, too. Have sent emails professing my disgust to the addresses listed by Leah. Hang in there!

  • phyllis

    i’m also de-lurking (i don’t think i’ve commented before) to let you know that i think it’s so awful…and as of 8:30pm, nothing’s been done yet — it’s all still your beautiful illustration on their lying webpage.


  • Ellen

    Yeah, I worry that this is gonna happen to me someday. Actually… since it never has happened… maybe that’s a diss? Wah! Nobody wants my artwork! Wait a minute! Now I’m just jealous!

  • Joy

    Delurking to say how sorry I am that this happened to you. A couple of years ago some of my photographs were stolen online and I found them plastered over all manner of crap on ebay. I felt sick to my stomach and violated. Afterwards I started watermarking everything I put online. It made me sad though.

    I love your illustrations and I hope you find some way to keep putting them up. They always make me smile!!

    Hope these people get the smiting they deserve!

  • SmocknMama

    Actually, Ellen, they have had more throughout the day – I personally commented on their site about this and made a few choice comments of my own. I should have taken a screen shot of my comment – they have deleted all those comments. You can try this yourself, everyone. Go make a comment, take a screen shot, and see how long it takes them to take down your comment.

    SAJ, I am in the process of marking all my public images that I use on my blog with a watermark. I know Adobe can do this, but I bought a new program just for watermarking. If you want help marking your numerous illos, just e-mail me.

    Oh, and I sent you some yummy, high fat, organic love today. Let me know when it gets there. It the kind of love that is really good with coffee and it will make you feel better. ;)

  • Joy

    One other thought. We probably all shouldn’t be heading over there to check this out. We’re only upping her hits and increasing her ad revenue.

  • Madhouse Wife

    I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been mentioned, but it seems to me that many people do not think hijacking the work of others is a big deal. I’ve seen it in my own students! They “use” art, etc. off the internet without permission all the time. We have to do everything we can to teach them otherwise and make real consequences for this–not just a slap. I hope this works out in your favor and I’m very sorry that it happened.

  • bluejaye

    Keep us posted. WE can shut down their site AND Cafe Press if it needs to be done.

    You sold this image to someone else…. did they sell it without telling you?

  • Jane

    SAJ – I have never left a comment on your site, but have absolutely LOVED reading it! I have a 17 month old daughter and enjoy keeping up on your little Baby Bug. You are so talented and amazing at your illustrations – they are a treat to see! I hope everything works out, it is absolutely horrible that someone would take advantage of you in this way! Hoping for the best!

  • Meg McG

    I am so horrified by this. I don’t read your site as I hadn’t heard of it (it is very nice by the way!). Don’t read themomsbuzz either. However, I have sent a couple emails to her advertisers along these lines:

    You are advertising site, that is using stolen graphic imagery. Check out secret agent Josephine for the full story.
    I will never support a company that advertises on

    Meg McGaffin

  • b*babbler

    Delurking to say I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. What a crappy thing to have happen, and to ruin your trust in the interwebs.

    Gah! What the hell is wrong with people? Really!

  • mar

    I’m so sorry this has happened to you. Ironically, if they had hired you to do an image for them, it would be much less costly than what this will be for them.

    I’ve emailed all of the suggested places – please let us know what else we can do to help. This stinks!

  • adrienne

    Joy’s right. They’re deleting our comments, so we know they are aware of the situation.

    They’re jerks, but each time we visit we’re driving their traffic up (and advertising profits) which is AWFUL.

    Also, we don’t want to clog their system with our comments. It’s illegal to do anything that can be construed as a denial of service attack (where their regular use is impeded by outside efforts).

    SAJ needs to call the DMCA representatives at Cafe Press, Blogger, and Typepad to get them shut down. As much as the rest of us would like to help, they will only respond to the copyright holder.

    If you write about the Moms’ Buzz on your own blogs- DO NOT LINK TO THE SITE. They benefit from the heightened link count. If you’ve already blogged with their url- go back and pull the link.


  • dutch from sweet juniper

    wow, what a couple of weeks.

    we had our similar situation with Babble (+ the fallout), Y at joy unexpected found her kids in an advertisement, the Orkut affair, the virgin mobile australia flickr theft, (I know there was another one), and now this. what the hell is going on?

    I know litigation is possible, but I always think the threat of litigation works best combined with a massive trial in the court of public opinion. we’ve got to make sure the message gets out that flickr is not a source of images to be integrated into the graphical elements of your website, or to illustrate advertisements or stories, or to take photos to post elsewhere in any way without permission.

    there is such a huge community of wonderful people reading blogs where we share images and stories of our kids. we all just need to keep an eye out for images of our own kids—as well as those of our friends—everywhere we go online. and if we catch anybody else doing this, they should know what’s going to happen and how pretty it won’t be for them.

    I’m sorry this happened to you, SAJ. I know just how crappy it feels.

  • lindsay (aka sassylittlepunkin)

    i am saddened and angered by this situation. of all the kindhearted, thoughtful, and talented people to steal from–i am just so upset that this is happening to you. shame on them for stealing your image, even more shame on them for not quietly acquiescing but instead deleting the comments of your supporters on their site and claiming they are “researching” the issue. what is there to research? they stole, and they got caught. i wish there was something i could do. i’m sending you all sorts of strong and positive thoughts in support.

  • Amy

    Oh, and you GOTTA love this, at, on the left side bar is a header “Useful Documents” – wherein you will find the “Six Pillars of Building Good Character”

    Number 1? Trustworthiness – Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal •


  • margalit

    I left them a nasty little note calling them theives and telling them to pull your illo on their site before they found themselves being reamed across the blogosphere. Like Babble, they evidentally don’t realize the power of bloggers to impede their traffic. Idiots!

    Now, two things you need to do:

    Get an attorney and have him/her write letters to cease and desist immediately. Send them to the web site and to cafe press. They’ll take them down fast if they know you have legal help. You might want to contact Jim at Sweet Juniper and see if he can give you advice since he’s facing a similar problem and is an attorney.

    Watermark all your illustrations. Don’t pull them down, just watermark them in such a way that it will take mad photoshop skillage to fix them. Most people will just move on if they see a huge watermark on a photo or illustration.

    I’m mad as hell for you. This totally sucks .

  • Kuky

    I just checked their site again to see if they had removed it yet. Have they posted something new?!?! They had time to write something new and have been removing comments but haven’t even had the decency to remove your image? What lowlifes.

  • Ellen

    You are right. They are deleting the comments. You’d think it would be pretty easy to zoom over there to the templete and delete the graphic while they were at it.

  • Jen

    Like your other eleventy million fans and supporters, it makes me sick and sad that this happened, especially to someone as sweet as we all know that you are. We are behind you 100%. It’s crazy that this is not some disrespectful, arrogant kid who stole your images but two moms running a mommy website. Disgusting. Do whatever you think is right in the meantime for your own peace of mind.

  • Susan

    So Sorry you have to restart all your stuff and have to feel so invaded by others. Hope they take it down or you should definitely take action legally against them. Wishing you the best!

  • canadianreader

    Dear SAJ,
    I have been a reader of your blog for over a year now – I had done a search online during my pregnancy and somehow came across your blog. You are so creative and REAL in your stories/life experiences that you share. I wanted to thank you for that.
    I am truly so sorry to hear that your work has been stolen, pilfered, ripped off… I sincerely hope that the individual(s) who are responsible for this are held accountable and authentic apologies and compensation come quickly to you.

  • Amy

    haha – they blocked all the links coming from here.

    Geee, we’ll never ‘feegure dat un out’.

    They oughta be ashamed.