Stockart.com founder lists sources of disputed logos

If you've been following recent stories about designer Jon Engle, you'll know that he's involved in a dispute with Stockart.com over a number of logos available at the site. Stockart.com believes that Engle's misappropriated its art, and has billed him $18,000 for the use. Engle claims these works were his original creations, wrongly added to stockart.com in the first place.

Engle's account of the situation was last weekend's internet explosion, tearing up Digg and bringing his own site down under the traffic generated. Here's the google cache of his post, "Accused!"

Stockart.com's Richard Askew, after quietly asserting that Engle was mistaken a few days ago, has now published a list of the logos in question and how they came to be at Stockart.com. Critically, he offers the names of the artists who put them there, meaning that it'll now be possible to find out who created which logo. Askew writes:

I have been fighting for artists rights for over 11 years to the point where it has devastated both my business and the livelihoods of my artist alliance . I'm guessing we only license 1 image these days to every 50 which are stolen and profited from. I personally have uncovered over 500 for- profit companies whom have stolen over 8,000 images from my artists!!!! I can not expose this story to the point which will soon be shared, but please know one thing about this irony! I have fought this matter with my own personal investments to a point of bankruptcy. I love my artists and their right to earn money from their unique, artistic, intellectual property! If anyone is interested in the entire story of my experience, please contact me personally ...

I do want to personally thank you for your concern. I understand your concern! Stockart.com is proud to advocate and represent the copyrights and works of the many award-winning and talented artists who have provided their work to Stockart.com for rights managed licensing for over a decade.

The list of lost logos follows after the jump. Since the intermob turned this tale into such a shitstorm, perhaps it can civilly and respectfully help unravel it!

Patricia Dalbey
Image #PD1P0138 (Stoplight Image)
Image #PD1A0213 (Chef Hat Image)
Image #PD1A0087 (Grape Image)

Phill Bliss
Image PB#2A0244 (Sun and Moon Image)

Cindy Lindgren
Image #CL1A0083 (Feather Image)
Image #CL1X0181 (Feather Pen Image)
Image #CL1A0102 (Peapod Image)
Image #CL1X0216 (Hand Image)

Scott Greer
Image #SG1A0094 (Shoe Image)
=0 A

Dave Winter
Image #DW0V0054 (Sombrero Image)

Larry Milam
Image #LM1A0041 (Rose Image)
Image #LM1A0043 (Mountain Image)
Image #LM1A0434 (Plate Image)

Mary Ross
Image #MR4P0041 (Star Image)
A 0
Rita Lascaro
Image #RL1A0061 (Rope Image)

Robert L. Prince
Image #RP0X0123 (Coffee Cup Image)

Peter Buttecali
Image #PB1A0004 (Rooster Image)
Image #PB1A0030 (Skunk Image)
Image #PB1A0034 (Lioness Image)
Image #PB1A0080 (Truck Image)
Image #PB1X0231 (Horse Image)
Image #PB1X0337 (Door Image)
Image #PB1X0346 (Building Image)
Image #PB1X0535 (Crown Image)
Image #PB1X0536 (Crown Image 2)
Image #PB1X0614 (Mountain Image)
Image #PB1X0714 (Mountain Image 2)

Michael Rowley
Image #MR1X0058 (Cow Image)
Image #MR1V0088 (King Image)
Image #MR1X0168 (Jester Image) 20
Image #MR1X0189 (Donkey Image)
Image #MR1V0219 (Jester Image- Color)
Image #MR10227 (Waiter Image)
Image #MR1X0257 (Cat and Dog Image)

Elizabeth Burrill
Image #EB1X0079 (Pig Image)

Paul Dolan
Image #PD0A0046 (Stork Image)
Image #PD0A0145 (Snake Image)

Published by Rob Beschizza

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25 Comments

  1. That poor guy. Aw, that’s just awful. With all the education that lawyers get, you’d think some of them would have half a brain and give the guy a break!

  2. Huh. That link posted by John Hudgens @4 is worth a read, everyone.

    This story is a lot stranger than it looks.

  3. Where’s the link to Askew’s statement? BBG is missing a lot of links to source material lately…

  4. Can’t read the link in post #4, as it redirects to a coral cache URL, which is blocked at work.

  5. I honestly feel bad for Jon…but what is lost here is that thousands of brains, skills, and heart are lost.

    Peacefully,

    Richard E. Askew, Principal/Founder
    Stockart.com

  6. @Richard E. Askew

    I don’t know who is right or wrong in this case, but after hearing about claims that you have a paid bounty program for alleged copyright infringement and your alleged used of attorneys on contingency, I’d be reluctant to buy any of your stock art… I wouldn’t use a bank where the guards point loaded guns at customers because they might get a bounty and I’d be very hesitant to use a stock agency that is sue happy since I have no desire to be collateral damage in your zealous enforcement efforts. A lawyer on contingency is, perhaps, more dangerous than a gun brandishing guard…

    Perhaps you would care to clarify the alleged paid bounty program and use of lawyers on contingency?

  7. Where’s the link to Askew’s statement? BBG is missing a lot of links to source material lately…

    It was directly emailed to me.

  8. Ske, any decent sized company has lawyers on contingency. That’s how lawyers and companies work. Many lawyers won’t even take work without a contingency in place. That’s so far from “holding a loaded gun at a customer” that I don’t know why you made the poor analogy. It’s more like having an accountant to review your taxes. Smart Business Strategy.

    I also feel bad for Jon, because he’s burned so many bridges at this point. After reading The Logo Factory’s piece about this story, it really seems pretty cut and dry. Jon should never have complained publicly about this. If he did indeed appropriate even one of those designs, he’s probably lost any support he would have ever had in the online design community.

    If he is guilty, it’s just so confusing to me. I just can’t imagine why someone would take a design then lie publicly about it having been taken from him. Like this stuff can’t be verified? As if there isn’t a mechanism in place for dealing with claims like that? If he was 13, I would kind of expect it. But it sounds like he’s an adult. He should know better.

  9. Hello, anyone going to credit Reddit? Not crediting the inquiring Redditor who posted this email is pretty much plagiarism, guys.

    EDIT: Rob here. Responding inline to this comment to make it absolutely clear that we received the email directly from Richard (who wrote it). This is an original piece, and I’d not even seen it at Reddit before publication. Anonymous is being a twit.

  10. The Logo Factory piece, linked in #4, is very interesting. I don’t know about the copyright dates (he says many of the stockart.com images were first copyrighted in ’97, but one can’t confirm this), but some of the images look very damaging for Jon.

    Jon’s pen drawing, fifth from the bottom on this page, lookis like it was lifted straight from the stockart site. Why? Because the stockart image has a black frame around it, while Jon’s image doesn’t. But Jon’s image does end exactly where it would if someone had copied that image and snipped the frame off. The lines are cut off at exactly the angle of the frame. Without the frame there, that sharp cut off doesn’t make much sense — it doesn’t match the rest of the image’s style. It looks like the artist cut the image to fit in a box — which in fact he would have done if there were that original frame there.

  11. Jeez….I’ve found myself in a slightly similar situation, where I was ripped off & then threatened by the rip-offer. Only after a lawyer pal offered to step in with a harshly worded letter did my foes back down. it was stressful, but even worse, in this digital age it is hard as hell to protect your work. I dread seeing something I drew appear on a stock art site, and post a lot less frivolous stuff than I used to. And while my work is as original as possible, I can’t say that I don’t get inspired by things i see. I can, on the other hand, say that I’ve never stolen.

  12. “Ske, any decent sized company has lawyers on contingency. That’s how lawyers and companies work. Many lawyers won’t even take work without a contingency in place. That’s so far from “holding a loaded gun at a customer” that I don’t know why you made the poor analogy. It’s more like having an accountant to review your taxes. Smart Business Strategy.”

    The comment about lawyers on contingency being like a loaded gun pointed at you was because such lawyers don’t get paid for discovering you are innocent and dropping a suit. A law firm on retainer would at least get their hourly up to that point. Not a firm on contingency. They **only** get paid if they get money from you. Them: Large Lawfirm with cheap access to legal muscle and a financial incentive to sue you into submission, guilty or not. You: small guy who may have to settle even if innocent because defending yourself against a legal juggernaut on contingency may be too great a risk given the outrageous statutory damages available in copyright cases. For 37 claims of infringement, the stockart.com contingency lawyers could sue for $5,550,000, without having to prove a dime of actual loss. Now, combine that with an alleged paid bounty program for turning in supposed copyright violators (How, exactly, can those turning people in for infringement tell a licensed use from a non-licensed one? They can’t.) and you have the potential for RIAA-like meritless witch hunts.

    Now, I don’t know if stockart.com actually has a paid bounty program, but we do know that stockart.com seems sue happy. I’d not want to buy stock art from a company that might accidentally sue it’s licensed users as part of its overzealous enforcement efforts, i.e., me. It sounds like stockart.com art is a potentially dangerous liability to license and use since who knows if they might sue you. I’m not saying they’d target customers deliberately, but if you sue enough people you are bound to sue the wrong ones a certain amount of the time. Just ask the dead people and people who’ve never used a computer sued by the RIAA.

  13. Ske, we don’t know that they’re sue happy. The only thing we know is that they’ve sent letters to Jon informing him that he is violating their copyright and attempting to collect what sounds like their standard licensing fees from him. There hasn’t been talk of a lawsuit that I’ve seen. I’ve heard nothing about them being sue-happy from anyone that would be in the know, and certainly nothing on the scale of the RIAA madness.

    Your position is comparable to not shopping at a store because they prosecute shoplifters. That’s really sort of absurd. Making the leap from someone enforcing their rights reasonably and legally to assuming they’re going to sue you if you buy from them is, frankly, bad reasoning.

  14. “Ske, we don’t know that they’re sue happy.”

    IIRC, Richard Askew is rather well known for his zealous enforcement actions.

    “Your position is comparable to not shopping at a store because they prosecute shoplifters.”

    Well, if they offered snitch bounties with large payoffs and no downside for false positives and rewarded all guards with a contingency fee that can be had either for catching guilty people or for beating a confession out of the people they accused, then perhaps your analogy would be appropriate. In fact some stores do essentially that, detaining people against their will, telling them they have to sign a confession and make a cash settlement or the police will be called. Imagine what truly overzealous enforcement at a department store would mean. That shirt you are wearing? Do you have a receipt for it? Sure, it looks worn, but maybe you stole from the store last month. Oh, and that purse and your shoes and your iPod, where are all of your receipts? You aren’t going anywhere… Does that actually happen in stores? Perhaps not as such, but there are instances where people are swept and accused by faulty, overzealous systems that presume the guilt of the accused as “policy.” People can fight such accusations, but when the punishment is sufficiently disproportionate, many have to settle rather than risk it, and no punishment is as disproportionate as the statutory damages in copyright infringement cases, where stockart.com can sue for $150,000 per alleged infringement, without having to demonstrate a single lost dime.

    There are, in fact, some stores with overzealous enforcement and harassment of innocent people that I would not patronize. The difference being that they can only accuse you while you are in the store whereas every licensed use of stockart.com art could be a potential liability for as long as stockart.com is engaging in zealous enforcement efforts. Once you create an art piece using licensed stockart.com art and release it into the wild, who knows if it will come back and bite you…

  15. Ske, my point is you’re overreaching the facts available to you. Everything up to and including your conclusions are based upon assumptions.

    You don’t know at all that they offer bounties, yet you draw out complex theories and analogies based upon that action. You use legal recourse available to them as though they are pursuing that recourse, when we know in this case they haven’t yet.

    It’s unreasonable to form an opinion of someone, or their organization, based upon hypothetical and/or assumed actions. Once there are solid facts to go on, then go for it. But we do not know that they are “engaging in zealous enforcement efforts.” Did you read the Logo Factory piece? It seemed well balanced, and very damning against Jon.

    You claim Askew is known for zealous enforcement, but I have seen no verification of that. This incident does not, so far, involve an over reaction on their part that I can see. If you know more, provide links to reputable sources. If not, it’s not helpful to continue accusing them of things that aren’t verifiable.

  16. “Did you read the Logo Factory piece? It seemed well balanced, and very damning against Jon.”

    I’ve made no claims as to the merits of instant case. I have said that IIRC Askew is known for his zealous enforcement actions, and that is my understanding and you have no contrary understanding, yet you attempt to excoriate me on the basis of your own ignorance on that issue. I’ve taken efforts to insure that of my claims have been well qualified.

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