For anyone who's interested (artists and retailers in particular) I am - or rather my brilliant assistant is - finally having some success in getting Alibaba to remove hundreds of products from its massive online retail platform that illegally feature my artwork (i.e. images of my artwork that have been lifted from the internet and placed on products). These products have mainly included mobile phone covers, soft furnishings and embroidery kits.
Sellers on Alibaba have, up until now, been selling these products to retailers all over the world. Under advice of a lawyer specialising in intellectual property, we are also painstakingly contacting retailers individually to request that they remove any of these products from their shops immediately.
So, significant progress has been made. Hooray!
It has been an arduous process as Alibaba's instructions aren't particularly clear, their English translations aren't always easy to read and one often has to wait a few days for any response from their customer service. It's worth bearing in mind that Alibaba is the world's biggest retailer and as such I believe it should consider putting more effort into developing its communication methods. However, to its credit, it has cooperated and while we still have a lot of work to do in clearing up all the violated images, we can have a mini dance of celebration as this has been such a long and rather distressing experience. I hope that no new images pop up on Alibaba, but at least we now know what to do if that happens.
My assistant has summarised the reporting process that has worked for us, just in case it's helpful for any other artists who discover that their artwork is being violated in the same way, but for ease of reference I'll put it into the next blog post.
Below: Butch, one of my images that was stolen. Also an example of a watermarked image of the kind that has to be submitted to Alibaba if one is reporting intellectual property violation.