women in business
comments 23

Copycats, Copyright Infringement and Social Media Etiquette

Earlier this week, my friend Désirée informed me that someone running an online store in Austria, was using all the images I had styled for our Spring/Summer catalogue (you can see my styling portfolio here).
I immediately contacted this person to inform her that she was in breach of copyright infringement for using all our images illegally on her site.
Copycat, copyright infringement.

Spending more time on this person’s website and Facebook, I found that she had not only used all our images illegally but she had also blatantly copied our About Us page (see above), used creative we had put especially together for our E-newsletters on her Facebook page, used photos of my home with products from our collection, Mila’s bedroom with these pom poms and was basically copying our whole collection and style.The reason I spent a lot of time & money styling our collection rather than using images from suppliers is because when I put a collection together and source products from various suppliers, I have a specific look and style in mind and that style is what BODIE and FOU is about.
This person simply took all the lifestyle images I had spent  hours styling and then proceeded to source all the products featured in my styling to simply copy the BODIE and FOU style & collection.I can’t tell you how traumatic and infuriating such experience was. In the end, she took everything off her website and Facebook and apologised.

I don’t want to dwell on this because it makes me feel incredibly sad that someone would do something like this. I still don’t understand what she was thinking off but I would say a few things….

“If you want your business to succeed, put the hours into it.  In business, there is no shortcut”
“Stealing people’s work doesn’t make you an Entrepreneur or a Creative person or a Company Director/CEO or whatever fancy job title you give yourself. It makes you a sad thief with no idea of your own”
Copycat, copyright infringement. More at www.karinecandicekong.com


If you are not familiar with the concept of Copyright infringement, here is the Wikipedia definition:

Copyright infringement is the use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works, without permission from the copyright holder, which is typically a publisher or other business representing or assigned by the work’s creator.

And here is a very good article on how to avoid copyright infringement so if you run a online shop, planning to do it or want to write a blog, please educate yourself. Copyright infringement is a criminal offence and could be a costly mistake (read article about financial penalties here).

Also, running a small business is NOT an excuse. The same way, you found out about Insurance liability, VAT and any other important things you need to know about how to run a business, you need to learn about copyright.
Pinterest is NOT a source of credit. You need to credit either the company that commissioned the images or the Photographer & the Stylist and if you use them for commercial activities, you MUST seek authorisation from the owner of the material, especially if you are planning to use these images for a commercial project (i.e. e-commerce site, press feature, etc).

For me, this is the most obvious one. Even if you are not familiar with copyright, the key to become a successful, appreciated blogger or business owner is to be respectful of your peers.
Bloggers are a great bunch and fantastic people to network with and hang out. I have made some amazing friends over the past 8 years from all around the world and I’m hugely appreciative of all the support I have received from bloggers, customers and fans of BODIE and FOU but I also believe that what goes around comes around and if you want to run a successful business, start by treating your peers, customers, competitors with respect and then work hard, aim to be the best of yourself rather than stealing people’s work.
Educate yourself, learn new skills, practice, enjoy being creative. It will be a much rewarding result than copying someone’s work, I promise you.

Filed under: women in business


Founder of Award-Winning Concept Store BODIE and FOU (now closed) & Photographer, UK's Top 10 Design blog, mum of one cool surfer, 23 years in London, now living by the beach in France, married to a kiwi.


  1. Good article about an unbelievable story! Thanks for being constructive and still polite! It is a good thing to put things so damn clear!

  2. Wow I am completely gobsmacked. Looks like you’ve dealt with the situation in the right way and thank you for telling us about what you did.

    I can’t understand how someone would completely lift copy and images and use it for themselves. Even if their business did well it’s hard to imagine they would feel good about it, as they’ve cheated and it’s not their “baby” so to speak nor down to their own hard work.

    I make my own products and always double think my inspiration – did I copy someone by accident? Blatantly stealing someone else’s hard work is wrong for so many reasons.

    Lucky your friend let you know about it!

  3. Thank you very much @Gudy Herder I tried… It took me a while to write it because I didn’t want to come from a very angry angle, I also wanted people to understand how important this copyright issue and that we all have to make an effort to credit and respect other people’s work but the more time I discovered things on her site, the more livid I was…
    Glad I wrote about it, I feel much better now and I can move on

  4. Love the way you handle this situation. Sadly this is happening more and more, people don’t want to be creatives for themselves, don’t want to work hard so they copy others, is horrible, hopefully that person learn her lesson and start working for herself .


  5. I find it incredibly sad the stupidity of people and the down right appalling cheek of them (etc etc!) Good on you for being so wise about the whole thing…stand tall, take a deep breath and carry on doing the amazing work you are doing.
    hels x

    ps – and thank you for email re: my neice, she will be in touch when she gets here from France. (justimaginewhen – intsa!)

  6. Anonymous says

    This is reality: copycatting will go on and on and on. It’s frustrating. It’s time consuming. It’s eventually costing your money.

    Therefore, and since this is a case where two commercially-acting parties are involved, the case should not remain with just apologies and an angry blog post, but set an example. It costs. There are laws regarding all this. These laws were heavilybroken by a person who, since running a business, should know better. Person didn’t care to know better. Tough luck.

    You should have a lawyer handle this for you. It’s about your brand. As a professional entrepreneur, you’ll want to protect your brand. If you fail to do so, you’ll end up losing money, possibly your commercial project. And none of the copycats out there would care or help you out, then, with a penny!

    Sue and have the person fined to the due thousands of Euros, as it’s common in this business.

  7. I agree with Gudy and Mariela that you have handeld this situation with style. I can imagine how furious you have been. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m gona reed all the links you sugested…would be scary if something like this happen to me. And for shore, there must be some photos on my blog, specialy from the biginnings, where I did not specify where is it from. Sometimes I just link the Pinterest….Well I’ll be more aware of this problem now.
    Most of us is trying wery hard to run small businesses and we should support each other rather then complicates each others life.

  8. Sad this happened – clearly some people must just be really out of it. Don’t people understand it’s a small world out there – she would eventually be found.

  9. Anonymous says

    Good for you. Admire the manner in which you have addressed this issue. Keep it up and continued success.

    Shame on them. Their life is stunted and the career is short lived as only originality blossoms.

  10. Oh Karine-what a horrible thing to have gone through and thank goodness Desiree spotted it. Sorry it has happened. It’s great you’ve been able to air your anger on the blog and point things out so eloquently. Well done you for tackling it so well. Caroline x

  11. Incroyable!!!

    You see quite a lot of ‘copying’ going on but I have NEVER seen this sort of ‘IDENTITY THEFT’ of an online shop.

    What was she thinking? We live in the internet age and it’s only a matter of time till she would have been found out! Shortsighted and rather devious!

    Great actions and responses from you.

  12. What a horrible thing to go through! It sounds like you handled it perfectly though!

    The world has become such a small place, and we are all so interconnected now, that it’s hard to imagine someone would do this. At the same time, it seems to be rampant. Within the past month I’ve known 2 other artists / illustrators who’ve had their images stolen and used on products!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  13. Great article and thank you for highlighting this issue. The exact same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. Don’t think words can explain how angry it makes you feel. In fact I don’t think I have ever felt so angry. When you work so hard to be individual and creative and then to see another company launch copying your concept, styling and products is really heartbreaking.
    Some people have no integrity at all.

  14. Pingback: Bodie and Fou: April & May styling for ZARA

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