I've Been Bootlegged! Part 2

As I detailed in my previous post, I discovered yesterday that there is an organization called MJART Gallery based in China reproducing my artwork and selling it on ebay. I wanted to follow up with some more infuriating developments as well as share my latest Cheesecake Boy piece (above). Ok, so maybe Cai Jiang Xun isn't the sexiest model I've ever depantsed, but as you will read momentarily, he definitely had it coming!

After I wrote about this on my blog yesterday, I received many messages from people expressing outrage over the situation. Several artists got in touch to let me know they had experienced the same thing, one person whose work was actually being sold by this same lovely fellow. They told me that ebay's policies are lackluster at best on this issue, a point which I learned for myself shortly thereafter. Ebay will remove the specific listing after a complaint is filed (which happened in the case of my two paintings yesterday), but they won't cancel the seller's account. Apparently, these art criminals wait a week and then re-post the same stolen work until they get caught again, raking in as much money in the meantime as possible.

In addition to filing a complaint with ebay, I also reported the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center on the FBI website. No word from them yet. I also decided to do a little investigating of my own. I wrote to Cai Jiang Xun anonymously from a Gmail account I created especially for him. The response I received today blew me away and literally left me shaking with rage. Here's my e-mail to him:

And his response:
Attached to the e-mail were twenty one jpegs -- all works of art that I have created with my signature carefully removed. Here are a few examples:

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much I can do from a legal standpoint. But I will definitely do everything I can to spread the word about this issue, and hope that you'll help me raise awareness among all of your friends who share or buy artwork online. Please feel free to forward this post to anyone who you think might find it useful.

As for Cai Jiang Xun, "Lawrence" is going to continue to try and learn more about this brilliant artist who has been "experienced in gay man oil painting more than 28 years." Maybe I can gather enough information to really catch him with his pants down! I'll keep you posted...

UPDATE (9/1)
My on-going conversation with Cai Jiang Xun has become quite interesting! I even have some friends joining in on the fun and we have managed to convince him to answer interview questions, sign copyright protection forms (to protect "his" intellectual property, of course!) and send us a bio and photo of himself with one of my paintings! The correspondence has grown too big for this blog post, so click here for all the juicy details: I'VE BEEN BOOTLEGGED!


Betsey said…
Maybe one way to start protecting yourself is by posting low res pics of your artwork and emblazoning copyright marks. Ugly, but perhaps effective. -- Betsey
Blaidd-Drwg said…
I am really sorry to hear that! It's sad what people do, without any care for others.

Maybe what you can do, together with other artists, is keeping a public website where you expose these people with names or comment on their webshop, the ratings and all that!

Again I am really sorry to hear this :(
ryan field said…
Sorry you have to deal with this, Paul. For some reason, I thought visual art was safe, but I guess I was wrong.

My e-books are being downloaded and pirated by so many pirate sites I can barely keep track of them to file abuse forms. So I know how you feel. It's an fringement, it's a violation, and it's illegal.

And they just get away with it all the time.
Hales said…
That is horrible. He has no shame in lying and taking full credit. What a con artist. I sincerely hope he gets what's coming to him and you get compensation for what he's done. I bet he's done it to more than just you. Wonder if it's enough to file criminal charges.
What is also frustrating is that this seller has all positive feedback! So what is it that they are really doing? Is this a sweat shop full of painters where they actually do painted reproductions? I would hate to put any money in this guys pocket, but it would be interesting to see what these buyers are raving about.
Just keep on him and keep us posted.
This is absolutely awful. Keep reporting and reporting until something gets done. I agree with one of the other posters who mentioned a public website to expose these people. It should not be that easy for them. Good Luck with this, Paul.
Ugh, what a JERK!! I wish you could find a way to call him out and ask him to explain himself and why he's trying to pass off YOUR work as his own.

Oh and another way of *trying* to protect your work is to manipulate your ebay settings to email you anytime someone lists an auction with a certain keyword(s). (I think it might be under buyer preferences) That way anytime this guy tries to list something you'll be notified and can flag it post-haste.
Anonymous said…
Low res with a HUGE watermark across them; one of those clear ones, so you can see the picture, but that would mess up any reproduction

I'm so sorry - I'm a write, and I hate it when people steal my work, so I truly feel for you.
Just_Jenn said…
I read another blog by a fellow artist where she had also had some of her images stolen from her Deviantart page and used as billboards and ads for some Chinese company. Her frustration was that most copyright laws do not affect thieves in China.
I hope you can get this resolved!
buff said…
Paul, this really sucks big time.
My suggestion is to get someone there in China to have this sucker thrown into the Yangtze River to scare him. This dude needs to suffer for his misdeeds.
Belinda McBride said…
My suggestion: Make a purchase, post in the feedback that he's a fraud, pay via PayPal and report the crime to them as well.
Since he's in China, there's not much you can do legally, but you can certainly spread the work on his own page.

I've got a friend who is an artist, he's been pirated via eBay as well. He fought back by spreading the word, just as you are doing.
Jessica said…
That makes me completely sick! I can't believe the nerve of this guy. I can't believe that they can't do more to get this guy. Ugh, I feel for you. How horrible.
Sam // Taeliac said…
Unfortunately, eBay seems to not want to help at all. I've had costumes of mine (well, images of my costumes) used over and over and over again. I fill out the report, send it in, and that one gets taken down.

I think my record is 46 against one seller, yet eBay seems to not really care, and just gives them a slap on the wrist for it. *sigh*

I hope that you get this resolved - I'd actually be curious to see what their products actually are like (my guess? prints with some clear over it, to look like brush strokes?) and would be willing to donate what I could just to let your "company" order a sample and see :3
ptquilts said…
I don't think it is too bright to make all this "sting" public before you have completed it. All it takes is one idiot to tip off the Chinese guy that he is being set up.
knmcnulty said…
Paul, I am in awe that this is happening to you...and this fool in China. You guys are certainly getting him it seems. It's like watching a train wreck in front of my eyes. I don't have suggestions as to ways you can protect your art, but I do believe in karma. He will get his. It's rather amazing he's fully aware of his actions, and he thinks nothing of it. I would believe he's been to your site and knows he's being set up--but doesn't care or doesn't understand or both.

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