FAQ: My Infringement Case with Chris Benz, Lancôme and Saks

In the approximately two weeks since I went public with my copyright infringement case against Chris Benz, Lancôme and Saks, I have received many questions about my situation. I thought I would take the time to create a FAQ for everyone.

I don’t see any infringement. Where do you see your photograph in the fabric?

Perhaps this animated gif fron Kiki The Wonder Mule will be helpful.

chris benz infringement ranunculus photograph jessica nichols lancome tote bag

How can you copyright a bunch of flowers? You don’t own the flowers. 
How can you copyright colors like pink, orange and white?

I own the copyright to all of my photography the moment I take a photograph. I only claim to own the copyright to my Loads of Ranunculus photograph in this case. It is not about the flowers themselves or their colors. I encourage everyone to educate themselves about U.S. Copyright law by reading their FAQ.

Aren’t you flattered that Chris Benz was inspired by your photograph?

No, I am not flattered that I have to fight an infringement of my work this hard in order to get paid for it.

Do you upload high-res images online?

I only upload low-res images of my work online, but there is powerful software now that can up-size images impeccably. Artists beware

How could Chris Benz print fabric from your photograph?

I would suggest asking him directly: info@chris-benz.com.

Did Chris Benz get your photograph on Flickr?

Again, I would suggest asking him directly: info@chris-benz.com.

Do you watermark your images to prevent theft?

There are two camps in the photography and blogging community about watermarking: one believes in watermarking and one says watermarking is terrible and ruins the image. Also, keep in mind that watermarks can be removed in Photoshop. There is no surefire way to prevent image theft online. I have alternated between both camps, and I am currently watermarking my images.

Why are you complaining about theft if you share your work online?

I share my work online because I primarily, but not exclusively, sell my work online. Also, sharing my work brings me joy, creates community and inspires people. I do not share my work online so that corporations can make a profit using my work and then refuse to share those profits with me. Sadly, there is a blame-the-victim mentality out there about image theft.

How can I help you?

You can share my story with your networks by blogging about it, by using the hashtag #justice4jess on Twitter and by tagging Sweet Eventide on Facebook. You can support my Etsy shop with a purchase or you can simply donate to my legal fund via the PayPal button on the top of my blog's right sidebar. I also listed more ways to help in my last post.

Why haven’t you filed a lawsuit yet?

There are many factors that go into the decision to file a lawsuit.
It is a decision I take very seriously and I haven't decided yet.*

I’ve said it before and I will say it again:

I know the fashion world has moved on to a new season, I would love to move forward also. This is my business, not a hobby. I deserve to be paid for my work. Independent artists deserve respect from corporations for their intellectual property in the form of getting permission and providing compensation.

There was an article published in the New York Times this week about Chris Benz and reporter Tim Murphy reached out to me for a comment prior to publication. I answered his question about the state of the case as follows: "We have not filed a lawsuit yet." Unfortunately, Mr. Murphy left out the last word of my sentence and some people have mistakenly assumed it meant that I am not ever planning to file suit.