I think my art got stolen!

  • I came across what I think is a scam online shopping site named inicases.com that is claiming to be selling a t-shirt with a design I created.

    I use a print on demand service called Printify to upload my design, choose a t-shirt maker, then sell it on my Etsy shop. Here's a link to the tshirt.

    Here's the link to the thief site.

    At first I thought all they did was grab the photo from my Etsy shop but notice how inicases has a darker yellow colour t-shirt and is also missing the design on the sleeve.

    A quick google search didn't bring up any reviews of inicases except one search result saying it's most likely a scam site.

    Also, about every minute or so, a popup appears on the site saying someone from different locations around the US just purchased the tshirt (each with a different timeframe). I highly doubt my shirt is that popular. I've only sold two since first putting it up on my Etsy site six months ago.

    Anyone heard of inicases before? I thought maybe it was another site like BluePotion that makes enamel pins by tracing over other people's artwork. But the tshirt looks too similar to be a tracing job. Unless there's been some weird hack at Printify and they downloaded my artwork?

    I thought of contacting them but really, are they going to care? Besides, something seems really fishy here. I can't put my finger on it.

  • Just came across this: People Astounded To Learn How A Bot Is Stealing Everyone’s Art On Twitter, Decide To Trick It Into Getting A Lawsuit. Not sure if that's what happened with my shirt but thought I'd alert the forums.

  • SVS OG

    @danielerossi It sure looks like your art. How did you even find that site? I've never heard of that place before. 😞

  • Moderator

    @danielerossi interesting read. 😂. I hope it works.

  • @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen I do a search for my characters once in a while to see if anyone stole it. I’ve found two in the past. The first was a student who redesigned a piece of artwork I made and included it on her Deviantart page and portfolio. I reported her to Deviantart and contacted her directly. Another instance was someone used another piece of art of mine from a Google Images search. She used it as the cover art of a chat program for people who stutter. She didn’t know about copyright infringement, etc. Knowing she wasn’t doing anything bad with my design nor making money off it, with the added bonus of helping others who stutter, I let her continue using my piece. We ended up becoming friends though!

  • SVS OG

    @danielerossi said in I think my art got stolen!:

    People Astounded To Learn How A Bot Is Stealing Everyone’s Art On Twitter, Decide To Trick It Into Getting A Lawsuit

    This is hilarious!!! I'm sorry that they stole your art, and I hope these sites get outwitted and shut down en masse--also because I once unwittingly bought something (not artwork) off a scam site. Long story, lesson learned!

  • Pro

    @danielerossi I'm so sorry about this 😞 Very discouraging to see your art stolen like this...
    It's possible that they cut out the front image from your photo and pasted in on their T-shirt. As for the popup thing, this is a WordPress plugin that shows sales but here's some little known fact: they can be programmed to show sales that didn't actually happen. This is to trick people into thinking the shop is booming and give the seller "social proof", but it's a scummy misrepresentation tactic that is frowned upon (although I don't believe it's illegal). Anyway just wanted to let you know! It's probable they're not selling nearly as many shirts as they're trying to convince us they are. Doesn't make any of this right, though.

  • I contacted their web host and registrar. The web host seems promising – they are investigating. Seems like they are taking it seriously (thankfully). The registrar says I need to send a UDRP which involves a lawyer. I can also send a DMCA but I'll wait to see what the webhost says.

    In the meantime, the thief is ranked third when you do a search for my cartoon character and "t-shirt". That's not good. Luckily, I have a few SEO tricks up my sleeve. I wrote a blog post warning about the pirated shirt, added links to my Etsy site. I, too, use WordPress and a great plugin (Yoast SEO) to write whatever I want the search result for my post to say. In a nutshell, the same as theirs but I added "scam by inicases".

    That's really all I can do and in the end, buyer beware.

    I'm sharing all this in case someone here experiences the same thing.

    Looks like they used the preview image from my Etsy site. Etsy makes it really hard for me to notify them of this.

  • @danielerossi , thank you for taking the time to impart your lessons with the community. In today’s age, it’s easy to share our work with the world; however, it is just as easy for criminals to take our work and profit from it unfairly.

    I enjoyed reading the post on getting the criminals back with Disney merch! Classic!!!

    Best of luck!

  • Yesssss! I heard back from the web host and they got the pirate to take down my design! That was faster than I ever imagined. If anyone needs a web host, I would be happy to recommend them. I just don’t know if it would be against forum rules to mention them here so feel free to send me a private message and I can let you know.

    Before I got the news, I was telling my sister about my SEO plan. She did advise me not to use the word “scam” in the copy for the search result, otherwise my brand will be associated with that word. Instead, I was advised to reword it as “<character name> official merchandise” or something like that. Which got me thinking how much of this whole fiasco is based on buyer beware. This pirate sells low quality pirated shirts. Others may be more sophisticated.

    I was lucky this time to have the pirated t-shirt removed (and quickly!) but in the future who knows. Or who knows if there are others out there that I don’t know about. At the very least, my own domain gets the official stamp.

    So if you sell anything on Etsy, be sure to snoop around inicases to see if they used your design. And do a Google Images search once in a while. Maybe a reverse image look up as well.

  • @Jeremy-Ross I hope my info can help everyone. Could be a great topic for the podcast, too!

  • @danielerossi I’m sorry to hear you’ve had to go through this, but I’m so relieved to hear that the site has helped you.

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