I have been following this Cody Foster & Co fiasco for 3 years. In 3 years a few eye have batted at the situation and I've heard of a few small, independent companies no longer buying from CF&Co (thank you ModCloth). This year, a rather well known artist on the handmade scene spoke out against them and is getting shredded for it without anyone knowing the full story.
This is one of the reasons artists don't come forward with infringement. Who among us is strong enough to be raked through the mud? Plus, how often do we blame the victim?
At the risk of making 4 of my 5 readers mad, I came up with a metaphor: There was a steak in the dog pit when someone threw in a squirrel. We could band together and get some real changes in place, or run after the next exciting thing. Major companies were listening!! Change was happening!! But now the focus has shifted. I have had a sinking feeling in my gut for weeks, the spin, well, it spun us. Are we, the designers, going to shrug our shoulders and simply accept, “It's an industrywide issue.” Oh! So everything is fine...Carry on then.
I remember I was in 5th grade when I first heard the ol', "Well, if so-and-so jumped off a cliff, would you?" Industry-wide issue means someone has to stand up and say they won't jump. AmIRight??
Back to my 3 years of personal outrage and research. I haven't devoted myself to this full-time. I've researched here and there over the course of 3 years. It's been a casual process and I've found over 60 questionable similarities.
Those similarities have been hazed over by juicy, gossipy, hearsay. There are a lot of questions that can't be answered right now, and waiting til settlements are made means at least one blogger who has gained an inordinate amount of popularity thanks to the metaphorical squirrel wouldn't have cleaned up so nicely in the "credibility" department.Doesn't sound like much of a pay off, but when you're a blogger, traffic equals money.
If I've learned anything this go round, I've learned far more about copyright than I ever knew, and I thought I knew a great deal. The complexity of the subject is far more nuanced than I ever expected. I've learned people will say they're well researched without full investigation.
I've learned I have to say all of this is alleged, even though I know the following:
In December of 2007 I sold an item to etsy user Alchemy. Alchemy bought over 500 items in under 3 months. Alchemy has several hundred favorite stores and just under 200 favorite items. Another etsy seller brought to my attention that a one-of-a-kind item she'd made was bought by the same etsy user. That one of a kind item ended up in the Cody Foster & Co. catalog.
Many artists have found their one-of-a-kind creation's doppelgänger in the Cody Foster & Co. catalog, twins to items they sold to Alchemy. I don't think they use the etsy account Alchemy any longer, but it's hard to know since you can no longer see items bought on the site. More recently, it seems, some of the designs in question were simply found on flickr. None of your little nooks of sharing on the internet are safe from design sourcing, it seems.
Etsy user Alchemy is named Andrea Foster Andre. The address where those items were shipped? Backporch Friends, former business name for Cody Foster & Co.
All that said, you're welcome to draw your own conclusions though unless you want to share your IP, you probably shouldn't post what you draw on the internet.