It seems like a lot of people are talking about stealing pictures and ideas this week, so I wanted to weigh in on that whole conversation. This is something that applies to any platform, but it is largely about bookstagram (because pictures obvs). Basically, I think trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own is horrible. I have zero patience for people who just repost the work of others because I totally know how frustrating it is to see someone grow a big account that’s built off of your effort. We all put a ton of time into our accounts… everyone else can do the same.

A friend recently had an account with almost 700k followers try to pass off her picture as their own. Usually when I ask people why they would blatantly upload someone else’s work they’ll say it’s hard to find credit on Pinterest (which miiiiight be a clue it’s not your image) or something like this:

not an excuse.

But I’m a bit more understanding when it comes to the possibility of “stealing ideas.” I mean, there are thousands of bookstagram accounts posting daily – it’s impossible to keep tabs on what everyone’s doing. Plus, this is obviously a community with similar interests… and you probably also follow people with similar taste on top of that. We’re going to think alike at times. So I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt if they post something super similar. And even if they are copying the exact layout and items or pose… it’s not like I own that idea. I get that there’s only so much you can do with books (especially if you’re trying to hide your face or include the typical props).

I mean, I like random things like Celtic music & history, knitting chunky blankets, fair isle sweaters, handmade mugs, flower crowns, rustic journals, candles, fairy wings & ears, mountains, medieval dresses & armor, archery, ravens & foxes, pine trees, nature in general, everything about autumn & winter, and most of the popular fandoms. These interests might make me somewhat unique in my group of friends outside of the internet, but are they even remotely original on bookstagram?

I’ve also seen a lot of new blogs pop up over the past few months with layouts or color schemes similar to mine or other friends, but have had to take a step back and acknowledge that I have a very typical blog design. I am doing absolutely nothing original here. So while it may seem like people are copying on some platforms, that’s knee-jerk response is very often not the case. And I’d hope to work on welcoming & encouraging new bloggers instead of comparing.

I’m think I’m just concerned that newer bookstagram accounts could be hesitant to post out of fear that there’s something similar they missed in the countless pictures other accounts have posted over the years. And this should be a fun hobby; not some rush to photograph everything you own in order to stake your claim. I also get that an idea might subconsciously come from scrolling through your daily feed, too! So others might disagree, but my stance is that I’d rather not jump to conclusions (and certainly not create more division or negativity). Coincidences happen and I completely get that – I’ve had 2 pictures over over the past 1.5 years that were scarily close to someone else’s and I had NO idea until someone said. That feeling sucks, but it’s even worse to think someone might have assumed it was intentional. If I know someone has done a similar picture or if I drew inspiration from a certain movie scene, I will definitely give a shoutout in the caption!

So I guess I’m hoping that people will respect other accounts enough to do their own original thing and to go directly to the person you think might have copied you if it’s really upsetting. Bookstagram has changed a bit over the past year, but I’d like to see it still be a supportive community that celebrates our common interests!

But if you really did take inspiration from someone, give credit.

That’s the point others have tried to make and I could not agree more. For example, it’s a bit disheartening to have spent a month in March brainstorming 70+ funko designs for my Etsy shop and then see so many accounts I follow suddenly making the same ones now. Obviously coincidences happen and I absolutely don’t own those designs or characters (although it did take forever to get permission from most of the authors to replicate a likeness of their characters). And it IS so much fun to see others making funkos from books we all love! For real. But it’s a bit frustrating to see accounts who follow me choosing to use the same exact parts and then posting or selling them like “here’s the design I came up with!” So at what point do we credit for inspiration?

I remember making endless lists of possible head & body combinations for each character and combing the internet to ensure nobody had ever done that particular combination anywhere on Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. Of course there can be several Etsy shops for the same products! And they’re free to sell whatever they’d like (even if it’s absolutely identical). But have you noticed how all of the candle companies at least use different labels, scents, and/or names for similar candles? I think there’s room for everyone to do a unique twist and coexist in this community.

So my point is that this experience has helped me understand how bigger accounts must feel when people copy their images or style of their whole feed (especially when it’s from people you viewed as friends). To sum this up: coincidences happen! That is totally understandable (and usually what’s happening tbh). But if someone’s creative effort directly inspired you, have some basic respect and say that in the caption. Your account doesn’t exist in a bubble in this community.

So I think purposefully copying someone else is pathetic, but also understand that we’re all doing something similar with bookstagram! And I completely get how disheartening it is to think someone is growing a platform that’s copying what might feel like an identity you’ve crafted, but I guess I’m also happy that they’re taking pictures and doing something positive with their time. However, my chill take on the bookstagram part could also be because 80% of my feed honestly feels NOTHING like me right now and I really don’t connect with it. I’ve just been posting whatever I can throw together each day and thinking I’ll actually put in effort the next week… aaaand now it’s been over 1.5 years of that? Hopefully sometime soon I can do something that reflects my actual aesthetic and stuff I like instead of just trying to get something up or feature the stuff I’m sent at the last minute (which I’m all very grateful for… not complaining in the slightest). So there’s my disclaimer completely acknowledging that others who really resonate with their work might feel differently than what I’ve said here and I could totally change my take on all this in a few months (when I’ll hopefully have a feed I love because I have planssss).

Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are! <3

Update: Please note the part where I said I owned none of the ideas, characters, or designs I chose for my custom funkos. Anyone is free to do whatever they want. My point is that if you actually DID take direct inspiration from someone for literally anything on bookstagram, it’s polite to give credit. That’s it. The post is about waaaay more than funkos. See my replies in the comments.

34 comments on “On Stealing Pictures & Ideas”

    • She did use a different body so I’m totally fine. The funko part of this post was meant to illustrate the larger point, not be the main point sorry 🙂

  1. Omg yes! I thought that girl was copying yours. My friend texted me her Kell + Lila and we were right! So tacky. Nobody knows her though so keep your head up love.

  2. After you open your etsy store, I saw a lot of people trying to make their customize funko too but people from my feed only painting their funko so I did not notice they are people copying your idea. It is sad to hear that, Cait. And you are really positive, thinking sometimes the similarity is coincedence. Hope you you keep strong!

    • I think everyone making funkos *could* be really fun for the most part because a lot of people are mixing it up!!

  3. Wait hold up. This is that girl with the red cape in her Instagram profile isnt it. A friend messaged me her mess! Keep doing your thing Cait. People can tell when others are copying!!

    • PS I saw 2 others copy your funkos this week too. They act like they were struck with a moment of genius out of the blue so this post is on point.

    • I really don’t want to draw attention to anyone or point any fingers. I don’t even know if ANYONE is intentionally copying and will assume they’re not until they say otherwise. I just want to see more respect in the bookstagram community 🙂

  4. Well, that’s absolute shit that people are stealing your funko ideas and I’m completely on stand by to go push them for you.

    All of this is so well said and if your current feed is you just “throwing things together” I might actually weep when I see you trying… Your photos are gorgeous.

    Keep your head up because you’re the best.

    <3 <3 <3

  5. CAIT thank you for posting this!! I think it is high time that someone called those people out. I haven’t personally had any of my work stolen (that I know of and thank GOD) but I do have lots of friends who have had photos stolen and it is just HEARTBREAKING.
    I also have a friend who has been accused of copying another’s photos and it was a very large account so there was a LOT of hate coming out of nowhere.
    I’m so sorry to hear that people are blatantly stealing your designs, that’s horrible! There are so many ways to make each product unique, as you pointed out with candles. There are also so many bookmark shops, woodmarks, and so many other things, it’s just plain rude to steal from someone else creatively.

    • I’m not sure if anyone’s intentionally doing it, but I definitely understand how larger accounts feel now when they see their work copied over and over. And it IS heartbreaking when photos are stolen!

  6. I totally agree about the Instagram posts! My friend had one of hers taken with no credit and the person refused to acknowledge she hadn’t taken the picture. As for copying with designs, my friends recently spent HOURS combing through the funko website to make Archeron sisters pops, and after they made them someone messaged saying they “stole her designs.” While I understand artwork is very much the own artists, when you have finite figures for inspiration and repurposing I don’t really see how designs can be “stolen” especially when different paints and clays etc. are used. I for one opened my own Etsy shop after seeing similar bracelets being made and wanting to make quotes of my own. I now make some bracelets with quotes that other shops also use. Ive since seen shops open and start selling bracelets that resemble mine, but it’s something you have to live with in the spirit of consumerism. Plus repurposing quotes/materials is kind of shaky ground because it can be argued that ALL of these are stolen. In fact, Funko has a trademark on their pops and could ban people from repurposig and selling them. Interested to see your thoughts on where “copying” draws the line. Especially when I could go out and buy my own materials to make something other people sell (which is how my own Etsy endeavor started).

    • Yeah this is the kind of discussion I was hoping for! I think if you’re just making the funkos for yourself and mix it up a bit then that’s not copying at all because all art obviously draws inspiration from somewhere. But it’s a small community, so marketing super similar funkos to the same audience just feels a bit… disrespectful. And I was using the funko analogy to apply to the broader idea of stealing inspiration for bookstagram in general to say that I understand everyone’s frustration better now! I’m absolutely not saying that I don’t want people to make their own custom funkos — just if you got inspiration from somewhere for the SAME heads, bodies, and details then maybe give credit. (Example — @onceuponasav inspired me to make my own dragon eggs and I’m totally giving her a shoutout there even though obvs she’s not the first one to do it and there are tutorials on Pinterest. But the goal is to foster a sense of community).

    • Umm but you would use a different quote or color on your jewelry?? Cait is right this is ridiculous. She’s too sweet and has the grace to be all understanding but some of us are pissed. And your missing the larger point here.

    • I agree with you Emily. Yes I can see how it sucks seeing your Funkos being made by others but if you want to get technical you also stole from Funko since they do have a trademark and they are licensed, you are not Cait and I don’t see you giving funko credit since well the heads and bodies you use are from funko. i have also noticed you sometimes just swap heads and bodies and don’t even paint or customize it. Some people can’t afford $40 on a funko especially when the paint work can be sloppy from the sellers. If someone used the head you used with a different body I don’t believe you deserve any recognition since the characters aren’t yours as well. What is really shitty is instead of going to the problem and privately DM’ing the people you feel copied you, you wrote this blog and then some of your followers made it their business to publicly shame bookstagrammers who made funkos and decided to accuse them of stealing from you in comments. thats shitty.

      • Cait,
        Thank you so much for the meaningful discussion. I apologize that apparently people are assuming that I am someone I am not and causing such discord on your site. I agree with your response, and was very glad to hear someone else’s opinion on the matter. I will have to rethink commenting on blogs in the future if posts I mean to be thoughtful garner such a response lol.

        Hello Sabrina and Tianna,
        I think you misunderstood me. I don’t make Funkos to sell, I just make them for fun, and as you can see in my original post I also bring up that all these parts belong to Funko. For Tianna: I make aluminum bracelets with book quotes on them. The only color you can really make the aluminum is darker to bring out the lettering. There are TONS of shops on Etsy that do this, and it is a process that I believe far predates the sites creation. I cater more towards the YA crowd, and have noticed an increasing number of shops do this as well. They are of course free to do this because I LOVE seeing what other people come up with and how they expand their stock.

        I don’t really appreciate your comment, Sabrina, assuming that I was attacking someone and apparently assuming I am someone that I am not? I totally understand the price point with Funkos, seeing as I would never willingly pay that much for something I can make well enough myself (and of course credit the maker, if parts are similar). I am not being a coward and commenting on a blog post. I like to read MANY blogs that choose to post links in their story. Please be respectful and don’t assume things when posting, as it causes discord and is kind of upsetting when people assume you did things you didn’t. I don’t feel copied in any of my work and would not hesitate to directly DM someone if some concerns arose.

        -Emily

        • Sabrina,
          I misunderstood you. Very sorry, I read this during class while dealing with a ton of other things and angrily responded. Need to cut back on the caffeine.

        • i am sorry Emily, my comment was Directed to Cait besides me agreeing with you. I probably shouldn’t have even responded from my first comment but I am also upset seeing friends on bookstagram being attacked in comments, especially the ones who make funkos for fun and for themselves. I totally understand why Cait feels this way and I am sure she didn’t expect her followers to be so rude to others but that is what happens sadly when you have dedicated friends and followers they go out of their way to protect their friend. So i get it, and I am sure she was one of the very few who had a custom book funkos to begin with and now others are deciding to sell theirs or just create their own so it feels her ideas are being “stolen”. I get it, but even though Funko has so many funkos its still very limited especially for book characters and people are going by the authors description of the characters so again limited. I just feel this got out of hand including my comment but today on bookstagram you can feel the tension and people not wanting to create funkos and are now deleting their photos of the funkos they created because they were being attacked. it sucks on both Caits end and other bookstagrammers bc now their is drama in our small community. in the end like you said Emily, none of us owns these characters or the heads and bodies besides those who are rightfully license and i just feel this has gotten a lot of peoples attention that may bring it to funkos attention and get a lot of shops taken down or hell even sued. I apologize for being rude in my first comment and for not making it clear who i was speaking to at the time. but Cait, you do have a huge follower account and it sucks that your followers are being so ugly to others today and maybe you (cait) should have messaged the people you felt were copying instead of blogging and now there is basically a witch hunt going on. I think the people who are creating funkos like you would have appreciated it more and felt comfortable speaking to you and not how this was handled instead. I am going to just step away now. As you followers Cait are upset for you I am and so are others upset how this was handled and i also hate seeing my friends attacked and being blamed. Have a good day to both of you. <3

        • Please don’t ever feel like you can’t post! I’ll moderate these comments and remove anything that’s not respectful for sure. Again, I was hoping more for a discussion on when to credit for inspiration on bookstagram so thank you for your previous comments!

      • You definitely jumped to a lot of conclusions there. I DID directly message anyone I was confused about this morning. Please don’t assume I wouldn’t.

        Did you read my whole post? Because your point about people using the same head with a different body was actually exactly what I was saying. That’s doing something totally different and so fun to see! I’m definitely not claiming ownership over ANYTHING here, but rather asking that we credit where we took inspiration from *if that happened.* That is literally it.

        Again, this isn’t entirely about funkos. I was using that point to illustrate how I understand now how larger accounts feel when people copy their work and how it isn’t always intentional (that coincidences happen). The people copying aren’t obligated to change or credit anything, but I was hoping to point out that it helps foster a stronger sense of community when we credit where ideas are from. That’s the point of the post. And I’m mostly referring to copying images on bookstagram in general.

        • I did and for that I apologized and I get Funkos weren’t the main issue in the post but it seems to have become a issue in the bookstagram community. And I feel it should be addressed that some of your followers are on this mini witch hunt making people you probably weren’t even thinking or talking about feel very uncomfortable and i know you can’t control what your followers do but it shouldn’t be ignored and I hope you don’t ignore what they are doing in peoples comments specifically one follower of yours who keeps going on people photos of funkos and accusing them of stealing your work. again it sucks on both ends because you just wanted to get something off your chest and now its turned into ugly accusations that I am sure you didn’t mean.

          • I’m really not sure what you’re implying or asking of me since I can’t control anyone else’s actions and I accused nobody specific in this post. And I personally messaged the few funko accounts I was confused about this morning to get clarification. I was hoping this would be a broader discussion on bookstagram in general for when to give credit and how coincidences happen.

          • I guess what I am trying to say is maybe in your stories acknowledge that your followers don’t need to attack other bookstagram accounts and that you don’t condone it. Of course you obviously don’t have to but you did acknowledge that you felt some accounts could have copied you and now it somewhat turned ugly. And I hope that the accounts that did get attacked by your followers know that you don’t condone it as well. if not it’s cool its your account you obviously can do what you please as can others it just sucks that your post and blog has caused drama when it didn’t need to. thank you for your time.

          • I haven’t heard anything about this though and you’re being super vague. If you’d like to message me on instagram I would LOVE to talk to those people who are feeling uncomfortable and work things out. But I’m definitely not posting a story about something I have no clue about — that would *create* drama. And if it’s just one follower that’s something I can deal with personally.

  7. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS POST. Also, I’m so sorry that people have been stealing some of your ideas – that sucks! Someone used one of my bookstagram pictures as their profile picture once but luckily they took it down after I messaged them. It’s seriously awful when someone takes your own ideas and passes it off as theirs.

    If I have ever been inspired to write a similar topic to a blog post that I’ve recently read, I ALWAYS credit the other blogger if it’s their post I was inspired by. If it’s a topic that I have as strong opinion on that they posted about and it prompts me to write my own post, I ask them for permission first. It’s just the decent thing to do and I don’t understand how people don’t credit others. IT’S NOT THAT HARD.

    • I once saw someone with a profile picture that was a picture I had uploaded literally 2 MINUTES before haha. Like how are people even that fast…

  8. I was literally just thinking about some of this while I was browsing through some book blogs and came upon someone’s blog who looked just like yours (not a bookstagram post, but you did mention blog looks as well). They linked theirs to a wordpress template site, so if anyone does have a blog that looks similar to yours, there are definitely a BUNCH of wordpress templates that look like it! Just a note in case you are bothered by the similar templates — I know back when I used to hand code everything & 100% make all of my graphics I would have people steal my stuff and then argue with me and say that they made it — it definitely can be frustrating!

    • Oh thanks so much for taking the time to share that! <3 I don't use that kind of blog platform, but do know that a white blog with a top header and basic sidebar is probably the most generic thing out there in any blogging niche 🙂 I'm definitely not implying anyone is even remotely copying me in any way -- I meant that example more to illustrate how sometimes our initial knee-jerk response to a situation might not be an accurate portrayal of what's actually happening. But that's amazing you put so much work into your site and it sounds so hard to have graphics you designed stolen!

  9. So happy you took the time to post this Cait! I think it’s so important for everyone to realize that there are a lot of people doing a similar thing and sometimes things overlap unintentionally, but it’s not cool to do it intentionally and pass it off as your own. Try not to let anyone whose giving you a hard time about this post get you down, because it’s so well put and nothing but respectful! If anyone takes this as an excuse to make others feel small, that’s a reflection of their character, not yours. Its not your job to babysit your followers or take responsibility for their actions, and I hope everyone else can see that too.

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