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Ripping Off Indie Artists

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Owls by (L-R) Abigail Brown and Cody Foster

Owls by (L-R) Abigail Brown and Cody Foster

The next time you’re in the market for a unique, handmade, locally crafted ornament for your home or necklace for your loved one, make sure you’re buying the real thing. According to one anonymous source, there are a lot of imitators out there.

A popular wholesaler of homemade items and accessories, Cody Foster and Co., has been accused of stealing designs from artists and selling them as their own, according to Yahoo Shine. The company was outed by an anonymous Flickr user who, since 2010, has been posting photos of its products alongside that of the artists’ original work. Currently Cody Foster sells to big stores like Nordstrom, Madewell, and Anthropologie, as well as to small boutiques.

“People seem to think lines of ownership are blurred now that it’s so easy to share images on Facebook and Pinterest, but an artists’ intellectual property is always their own unless they express otherwise,” the anonymous woman told Yahoo Shine.

She also alerted some of the artists like Lisa Congdon and Abigail Brown, who were shocked to see that their work was copied and being pawned off as original by Cody Foster. Congdon draws illustrations of polar bears and elks, while Brown makes owl-themed products. Both of their work was allegedly imitated and sold for cheap prices to stores.

Cassandra Smith, an artist who paints deer antlers that are to be hung on the wall, sells her products for $138 each. Cody Foster makes them available for $7.50 each. Smith said that Cody Foster changed nothing about their copies, including the paint jobs and patterns.

After the anonymous source went public with the imitation allegations, Cody Foster’s catalogue, Twitter feed, and blog became subscription only. The company claims to be a small, mom-and-pop wholesaler, but Smith doesn’t buy it. Now, both Congdon and Smith have gotten in touch with lawyers and are pursuing legal action.

Congdon told Yahoo Shine that by hiring a lawyer, she’s not claiming that she’s owed a ton of money. She said, “My main goal is to expose them.”

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January 21st, 2014 at 8:48 am

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