Update, Sunday, June 7: Heard from the folks at Ravelry that they have removed all of the ads. They can't, obviously, police her account, but if I spot any that are this similar again to let them know. Looks like this info. wasn't entirely accurate.
In mid-May, I was contacted by a Ravelry user about the possibility of doing some advertising. Until today, I had in my profile a link to a "roll call" thread, displaying some samples of my work, and an offer to exchange ads for cash or yarn. I'm not terribly busy with it, but I have gotten a few skeins of yarn out of it, and met some nice people. As reasonable as my rates were (about half of what some designers* charge), after they hear my rates, more than half of the people I hear from don't get back in touch. This person did, and we ended up speaking on the phone.
I was told that there had been another designer on the job; she'd been paid, but the work wasn't exactly what my new client wanted. Could I base an ad on what had been done, but create the artistic elements of it myself (the remaining elements were straight gray lines and her own logo, plus a typed tag line)?
Disclaimer: I didn't know right off the bat who this first designer was, but I honestly saw nothing wrong with her version of the ad. In fact, I still feel that it was superior to mine. And, I must say that I felt really uncomfortable with this, but against my better judgment, went ahead with it, because sometimes, people just can't work together. Later, I discerned that the cause did not belong on designer #1's doorstep.
I created an ad to her specifications -- mostly tweaks of the original, plus a wavy line that I created. I sent it, like I always do with new clients, as a .JPG file with "DRAFT" embedded into the image. Soon after, when the client didn't like many things about the ad, I decided that it just wasn't worth it, and told her I couldn't help her. I did not bill her, because I didn't finish, nor did I deliver a usable product (because of the DRAFT portion).
Imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, I'm reading a thread in Ravelry, and I see an ad pop up. One that looks very similar to mine. As in, pretty much identical. In this image, the one I found on Ravelry is on top, and on the bottom is the one I sent back in mid-May:
At first glance, they look identical, except for the absence of the DRAFT portion. I immediately contacted my ex-client and gave her 24 hours to remove the ad. On closer inspection there are a couple of tiny differences. Since most of it, except for the placement of the items and the wavy line, were the work of the first designer, I sent another message to the client, stating that all I was concerned about was the wavy line; she couldn't use it in any way, but I didn't care about the rest of it.
It was at this time that I got in touch with the first designer. I didn't find her earlier because I'd mis-heard her name. But I took another look at the designers in that thread on Rav, realized who it was, and sent an email, apologizing for my part in the whole debacle. She was gracious and sweet, did not blame me for any of it, and offered to go to "the powers that be" (TPTB) on Rav and support my story.
I won't bore you with the back & forth conversation I had with my ex-client. She offered to pay me for the ad, but by now it had become about the principle of the thing, so I declined. Eventually, she sent an email stating "Hi Mel, The ad you worked on has been pulled." (Emphasis mine.) In the meantime, I'd located another ad, using the same line, just recolored and a bit lopped off the end. I asked her to remove this. She stated that she had to wait to hear back from her designer, to see if she had created the line. So, I sent this (my Photoshop layers, in red, nudged up a little higher so you can see them both - I made the top line red instead of the original green):
I finally had to get TPTB at Rav involved. They removed the above ad, as well as a group badge and banner I hadn't even seen. That was yesterday.
A breakdown of how the line in question was created, so you can see how minuscule the odds are that someone would create the same line:
Today, I discover that not only was there a third ad, but the first two are back, with subtle changes. (However, the group banner & badge have been replaced with completely new art. Interesting priorities there.) Basically, her designer just squished the line:
If you can't make out the text above the red line, it gives the height & width changes (~95% of the width & ~117% of the height, give or take) that were made to the line. Just squishing the line isn't replacing it. (The little dip was cut off for the first iteration of the second ad, the long one with the knitted fabric.)
Ravelry has since stated that they can't control what their advertisers do ("advertisers have control over their accounts...we can not and will not arbitrate these types of disputes.") Which does confuse me, because if someone had a dispute regarding images on another site, that content would be removed pending investigation. Not the case on Ravelry. I'm waiting to hear back from my lawyer, but I'm thinking I won't be able to afford taking legal action. So, here I am. As of this writing, almost 48 hours after the first deadline passed, the ads containing my work are still present.
As a result, I'm no longer creating ads, except for one long-term client and a few past clients. It's not worth the hassle (plus, people steal bigger stuff all the time, and I'm just not going to open myself up for that in an environment where I have no recourse). I left the design group where I've been modding for over a year, for which I created dozens of group badges and banners (for free). I'm not leaving Rav, because I have found a fabulous group of friends, and the notebook and pattern-finding features are out of this world. I do plan on scaling back my participation in other ways.
Really, who does this kind of thing? And on the same site where she found me? Lame doesn't begin to cover it.
*I'm not a graphic artist. I think people that can apply that title to themselves accurately deserve more money.