In October 2010 I had a necklace project published in 'Beadwork' magazine - 'Sonya' if you want to look it up. Shortly after it was published I was sent a link by a fellow beader to a Korean sales site, the whole project was being sold for peanuts - photographs and diagrams copied directly from the magazine, and the finished necklace they had used as a project image looked as if a blind six year old had made it! It hurt more than I thought it would have, and it took a letter from 'Beadwork' to finally get them to pull it from sale. It actually felt as if I had been burgled, any love I had for that particular necklace disappeared shortly afterwards.
I realised then that the only way to beat the design thieves was to either make something so technically challenging it wasn't worth them trying to copy it, or to just suck it up and get on with the next design. I did both.
The beading community has become paranoid about copying, admittedly with good reason, but while we are squabbling about who owns what and who stole what, the Chinese and the Koreans are quietly copying and selling everything we make - and there are so many sites selling this that you will never get 'em all!
I sympathise - no, I empathise - with those of you who feel you have had your hours of work stolen by a passing opportunist, but I also believe that getting engrossed in a battle with a fellow beader really isn't worth it. Move on and suck it up, remember the incident by all means, but don't let it ruin your Art. I would have to look up the last design I did, because I am making another, and the only thing that's important is the now, if anyone wants to copy the past I cannot stop them - I can shout and sabre wave, but I can't stop them.
As beadworkers we are a very incestuous group, we all know one another's work, and we can look out for each other, but we don't have to like every one of our contemporaries - and we certainly don't have to trust them, most of whom are only known through the medium of the internet. When you make a design that is able to be copied then expect it to be copied, it will happen, and there ain't nuthin' you can do about it!
I shall now go back to trying to design a stealth necklace that nobody can see on the beading radar.