Twenty some years ago I was heartbroken. I was sitting in the locker room after a middle school gym class and found that my shorts had been stolen. These were my favorite shorts, they were so soft and comfortable and stylish with white stripes running down the leg along the seam breaking up the boring plain black. I couldn’t believe that someone would take them. I know it might sound silly, but if you have ever had something stolen from you then you know that gut wrenching feeling. As the years have passed, that feeling has faded and life has moved on. A lot has happened since that day and I honestly haven’t even thought about it until last Friday morning when I walked into the Allen Noble Hall of Fame at Boise State and saw my art on the wall behind the desk.
I was very confused to see it there since no one has ever asked my permission to create something like this. I decided to inquire about the picture and was told that they bought the picture from a website. Wait, what? You bought it? Those gut wrenching feelings of long ago came right back. Someone had taken my work and was selling it, but by chance I found out about it because of a visit to the stadium.
I was immediately thrown into a situation that I didn’t and still don’t want to be apart of. I have spent the last few days being detective, tracking down where they bought it, talking to lawyers, adding DMCA protection to my website and making it harder to get the images in the first place. I am also finding my work on other sites, not selling it, but still not authorized to be there and having it removed. This was not how I was planning on spending my time this week, but this blatant stealing needs to stop if I can help it.
I have learned a lot about the law in cases like this. Courts have even ruled in favor of graffiti artists who art was in the background of add campaigns. They have said that it doesn’t matter that the art was created illegally, the artist still has rights to it.
So where does this leave me? Well, I’m fighting to go after the seller. They need to pay, I’m sure I’m not the only one they have ripped off. It also leaves the Boise State in the middle of this mess. Even though they purchased the artwork, it was stolen in the first place so they are in possession of stolen goods. I’m not sure how it will be resolved between the University and I right now, but it will have to be resolved to my satisfaction.
Many have asked or offered to help. If you are one of these people, the site that sold it was called wallartperfection.com. Conveniently that website doesn’t exist and I haven’t been able to see an old version of it using tools like the way back machine. I have found a few shares of that site on Facebook with pictures exactly like the ones from this site: https://sportscanvasstore.com/ . I’m not saying they are linked, but it is curious. I also have a couple email addresses and a telephone number. I am trying to find connections and links for my art being sold.
Progress is being made, but the entire situation is not what I want to be dealing with right now.