Steampunk mask-maker gets justice after being plagiarised


Yesterday, I blogged about Bob Basset, the Ukrainian steampunk leatherworker, discovering one of his designs in the Design Toscano catalog without credit or royalty. The publicity that the Internet gave to Basset's cause caused Toscano to contact Basset and offer him a royalty, and they blame an unscrupulous supplier who claimed the design as its own:

To clear up the issue on the Steampunk piece that has some of our customers questioning our motives we would like to explain.

The statue was produced and offered to Design Toscano as one of a portfolio of new sculptures to review. There was some confusion between Mr. Bob Basset and the factory that produced this piece for Design Toscano. Mr. Mike Stopka, president of Design Toscano, spoke directly with Mr. Basset and explained that Design Toscano had been mislead in the creation of this piece. Mr. Basset and Mr. Stopka have worked out a generous plan that the artist will get compensation for his work and Mr. Basset has graciously allowed Design Toscano to continue to sell his fantastic work of art. Design Toscano is appreciative to its customers who informed us of this oversight and as always we celebrate artists and their creative work

To clear up the issue on the Steampunk piece that has some of our customers questioning our motives we would like to explain. (Thanks, Seth!)

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  1. Since they took such quick action, I tend to believe the story of the unscrupulous dealer. Kudos to BoingBoing and Toscano and congratulations Mr. Basset. Thanks Cory. Top flight blogging in action.

    1. Absolutely. Nice to see this isn’t yet another Todd Goldman, Hot Topic, or Urban Outfitters ripoff situation that goes nowhere. Basset is a superb artist and craftsman, and I’m glad he’s gotten a decent offer out of this.

  2. I have to admit, whoever got the design job at RipOffCo did a pretty nice job.  I like the eye trim, the mouth change, and the color accents better on the sold product.  It’s a shame that there’s probably a decent artist making a living this way.
    Any way, good outcome.  Stamp Creator-Endorsed on it.

  3. One would hope that moving forward that Design Toscano would use more of Bob Basset’s work.  Its obvious they like what he is doing and there is a market for it… seems like an awesome match.

        1.  You’re right! Why don’t I ever learn to double check what Cory writes :

          “Design Toscano, a wealthy, fast-growing company, is selling a leather steampunk mask “

        2. And one doesn’t need to charge for the time involved in creating a unique design (although there must be some cost associated with surfing the web for likely appropriation targets).

  4. I’m so confused.  Are you telling me that a company copied a piece from a creator, got called out on it, found out where things had gone wrong, righted said wrong, apologized, and then gave creator credit and money?

    And all over the course of a day?

    Now, why can’t everyone else just do this?  It seems the right way of going about it…

  5. Not sure things are as fixed as you seem to think they are – posted long after the ‘agreement’ had been made:

    ” Hello! many thanks to all who make support in that situation to me and my team. at first Evelyn Kriete and my good friend Stas Zv. I am glad to know what MR Stopka are friendly in that situation. But I wish to make all point in that history. For that I ask MR Stopka contact with me directly with offer about using that part of my art my email is bobbasset@gmail.com

    1. They can not have been this stupid could they?
      They profit from stealing his work, claim its all fixed… and seem to have not bothered to speak with who they ripped off.
      As of now the “its all better” was posted 15 hours ago, and Mr. Basset posted 6 hours ago asking to be contacted…

        1. Bob Basset has now posted that he has been contacted, so we can go back to wondering whether this is a holiday micro-miracle :)

  6. This happened to me with an American “Temporary Tattoo” company.  I received their catalog and was surprised to find my designs for sale! 

    As it turned out, someone had sold them my work as their own, and they believed him. 

    The company CEO was very apologetic, and essentially said, “Please don’t sue us.”

    The arrangement I made with them was the best, I think. 

    They broke the deal with the plagiarizer, and since the Temp Tattoo company operated on such a thin margin, I told them to just credit me in the catalog, and keep the royalties that would have been mine, to help them out.

      1.  Thanks Bill.  Misty (Mercedes Lackey) and I are firm believers in GKC … Greed Kills Cool. 

        If I’d been greedy and sued them, then something that makes people happy would have died because the company didn’t have much money to begin with.  Something cool would have been killed.

        The tattoo company got duped by a crim (To use Mega-City One parlance) (Five years in a cube, creep!), so they were messed with once.  If I sued them, they’d be messed with twice, and it still wouldn’t really be their fault.

        I have a 2 for 1 policy when I encounter a wrong: do one good thing to counteract that bad thing, then, do a new good thing so the average is raised.

        1. As a random fan of both your art and Misty’s books — that was a generous and kind thing to do.  I’ve always thought both of you were lovely people, and this has only raised you in my esteem :)

          Cheers for doing the right thing! (And for the Judge Dredd reference *grin*)

    1. Very, very cool handling of an aggravating and awkward situation. Not too many people would have been as gracious and reasonable when faced with something similar.

      On a totally unrelated note, are you both missing CoH as much as I am? I had the honor of teaming with you two briefly one fun evening; my toon was H. Beam Piper :)

  7. A quote from Bob Basset on that thread:

    “Hello! many thanks to all who make support in that situation to me and my team. at first Evelyn Kriete and my good friend Stas Zv. I am glad to know what MR Stopka are friendly in that situation. But I wish to make all point in that history. For that I ask MR Stopka contact with me directly with offer about using that part of my art my email is b******@****.com”

    English is his second language, so I’m not 100% sure what he’s saying, but It seems Toscano might have jumped the gun by making this announcement.

  8. ‘[any given distributor] is appreciative to its customers who informed us of this oversight and as always we celebrate artists and their creative work’

    i always read stuff like this as ‘crap, we got caught’, i know thats deeply cynical of me, but you must admit that it would be nice not to have to celebrate as a rarity the fact that a company adheres to common decency and commercial law.

  9. Pretty sure this thing hasn’t been cleared up yet.

    Also, DesignToscano stated that they spoke with the person Bob Basset, but I thought that Bob Basset was the name of the company and not the designer?

  10. So is this mysterious plagiarising supplier going to get called out? Named? Shamed? Sued? Run out of town? Or keep passing off other people’s work as his/her/its own? I need closure.

  11. If I were in your shoes Cory I’d be seeing if an interview with Basset would be possible. It would be very interesting to hear his side of the whole story regardless of whether this deal has actually been made or not. Design Toscano claiming that it has been, someone with a Bob Bassett facebook account claiming that he’s yet to hear any deal. Something fishy is happening one way or the other.

  12. Yes, it does appear that it might not be completely sorted. It would be nice to see a post on the Bob Basset FB page or website assuring us it’s been handled.

  13. What I don’t understand is whether DT will continue selling the “extra-doodad” resin version of Basset’s work or not. At least they could produce a resin version that is an accurate copy, sheesh.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve always thought it had an excellently creepy Silent Hill vibe . . . 

  14. Glad to hear this. We’ve been Toscano customers for many years and they’ve always struck me as a decent company.  I’m glad to find that belief justified.

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