Hall of Shame: Miss Patina Ltd.

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Miss Patina Ltd, a UK clothier, is but the latest infringer in the never-ending saga of commercial entities that think they can exploit the work of independent visual artists with impunity. I was disheartened to recently find a number of my copyrighted images posted on a “blog” on the commercial Miss Patina website (on the same page with links to buy their products, of course).

Companies like Miss Patina seem to think they’re clever by making it as though they are just entertaining their customers with fun, interesting images. In reality, what companies like this are really doing is downloading and republishing copyrighted photographs from the internet and using them as free content to provide traffic and engagement for their customers.

I have spent decades honing my craft as a photographer. Creating images requires a great deal of time, work and expensive equipment. And images are my livelihood. So it is always violating when complete strangers think they can just help themselves to my work, exploiting its value and depriving me of licensing income while they sell products. This is not in the least bit flattering to me. It is a simple matter of entitlement and theft. My images routinely license commercially for four figure sums. But if companies like Miss Patina can just take them and use them for free then it removes the incentive for companies who are willing to pay me to properly license my work.

Not once did anyone from this British clothing merchant reach out to my studio to seek permission to use my work in this manner. So what they did is infringe my copyrights in the service of their own company and brand. If that’s not dispicable enough, when my studio contacted them (multiple times) to ask them to pay for this unauthorized use ex post facto, they ignored us. This suggests to me that they feel entitled to exploit the intellectual property of others. Of course, we reported this willful copyright infringement to Miss Patina’s ISP which removed the images from their servers. Since they have expressed no interest in taking responsibility, my legal team is currently evaluating legal angles, potentially going after their interests in the US where statutory damages would apply.

Miss Patina apparently was founded by Holly Wang, recipient of a “Chinese Business Leader” award by Sino Pro & PWC. She also has given lectures on the fashion industry. I wonder some of her lectures include tips on how to profit from the theft of intellectual property of others. I’m curious how she would feel if someone shoplifted her merchandise and then refused to pay for it – or even apologize – when given the opportunity.

Most companies that my studio catches using my copyrighted work without permission at least have the courtesy and professionalism to apologize for their theft and (usually) to blame some hapless, twenty-something intern who didn’t know anything about how copyright works. But Miss Patina ranks among the worst of the worst, to not only steal and profit from the theft but to rudely ignore communication in a feeble attempt to avoid responsibility. It is my hope that Miss Patina Ltd. will learn that avoiding responsibility for bad behavior has consequences. In the meantime, I hope anyone out there who might be considering a purchase from this copyright infringer might be interested to know the detriment they are perpetrating on independent visual artists who are trying to make a living from their work. If you have time you might let them know your thoughts on the matter.

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