our art is getting stolen like crazy i don't know what to do!

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Thread: our art is getting stolen like crazy i don't know what to do!

  1. #1
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    Unhappy our art is getting stolen like crazy i don't know what to do!

    My fiance and I are both artists and we have a lot of art floating around the internet. One image in particular gets stolen ALOT and it's pissing me off!!! It seems like every few months I have to write a new ISP or report something to some info-silo about this work getting stolen. It's a very important image and NO one has made a replica of it.

    I want to write a letter requesting payment for the one time usage, threaten legal action, and then go forward with legal action.

    How do I start? I wrote this letter, does it sound okay?

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    You are using a piece of art that belongs to our company and we would appreciate payment for its use. The artist who created this work was the first person to ever link the tetractys to the Abrahadabra grid, illustrated by this image which you have posted on your website to promote your own work that has nothing to do with the work we are trying to further. This constitutes theft, and unless prompt payment is received for services rendered we will pursue further legal action.

    $200 is the fee and a link back to Abrahadabra.com somewhere near the image or as a hyperlink on the image itself is the terms of our agreement for one time usage in web media.



    oh my god I am so pissed off I thought I buried this problem ages ago! First the fucking freemasons claimed it as THEIR image, now the GODAMNED CATHOLICS WITH THEIR GOOEY GOD BLABBER WTF. Here is the particular article and school that is ripping off the image in the upper left corner:

    http://thewayofbeauty.org/2014/02/cr...hrough-beauty/

    Note: The stolen image has since been replaced with a more generic image (also stolen because it's made by our company also but it's much less offensive to ripping off an image they don't understand)

    Last edited by Izi; April 16th, 2014 at 12:41 PM.
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    I would make the message a little more demanding or aggressive -IMO.
    People will ignore you or worst, if you don't have a backbone.

    If you're interested, I've made some changes to your letter to consider.

    Quote Originally Posted by Izi View Post
    Dear Sir or Madam,

    [You are] You're using a piece of art that belongs to our company, and we [would appreciate] demand payment for its use. The artist [WHO?- YOU? maybe insert a name] who created this work, was the first person to ever link the tetractys to the Abrahadabra grid. This image which you have [posted] stolen and posted on your website to promote your own work, [that] has nothing to do with the work we are trying to further. This constitutes theft[,] and unless prompt payment is received for services rendered, we will pursue further legal action.

    $200 is the fee and [a link back] (credit -or a link) to Abrahadabra.com (with a link) somewhere near the image, or as a hyperlink on the image itself is the terms of our agreement for one time usage in web media.

    EDIT P.S
    Don't change it word for word, because it may come across as selfish, demanding or even too threatening.
    I would address the possibility they didn't knowingly -or intentionally stole the design/art. So try to see things from their POV as well and put that in there.

    Overall the letter sounds okay but it could be better- I would include more to it.
    (I'm not in the best state right now to continue this)

    Last edited by MapleTerror; April 10th, 2014 at 05:38 AM. Reason: wrong god dam colors & P.S
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    thank you I revised it and sent it in. I'm ready to start shopping for lawyers now I just don't have the energy to do this anymore. hopefully the watermarks will help a lot, since most of the theft we have been seeing lately has been very old images that may have "been the rounds" for a decade or more now.

    This article gives a very poor accounting of the tetractys placed there. It's all this morbid Catholic "let's stare at god's goopy asshole" stuff rather than the science, stars and logos stuff we're trying to promote. The silly new age blogs that steal our work are far less offensive than this - and he fancies himself an artist. Yes, artist enough to recognize something of value - but not intelligent enough to make a proper accounting of it! Not even holy enough not to blatantly steal!

    So I was not understanding at all. I'll never forgive the fucking Catholics for what they put this world through and I certainly won't concede to them any authority on the Body of Light which they are an absolute menace to.

    Last edited by Izi; April 10th, 2014 at 05:58 AM.
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  6. #4
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    Izi, there are lawyers in the legal section, which might be useful for you.

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    Thanks BlackSpot I am going to go look in there now!

    Sorry for ranting. Now I know what it must feel like to have work stolen and sold on crappy tshirts for some corporate bottom line, as this was much less than that but highly insulting.

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    Well... I've not had anything stolen but I have had my experience of litigation. Basically your rights basically rest on your ability to enforce those rights.

    That's how justice works (or rather doesn't work) in our society. So you gotta think first - is it worth fighting this?

    Trying to get money from them will get you nowhere - you're much more likely to succeed with a cease and desist order. Someone who is happy to steal your work is very unlikely to bother paying you.

    My wife who is a photographer recommended that you register your images with a big picture agency like Getty (or one of it's subsidiaries who deal with illustrations) - this isn't necessarily to make money but Getty have bots which trawl the internet looking for images they own and they have a very aggressive and efficient legal department. As she works in journalism, she knows of lots of examples where people were in a hurry or couldn't be bothered to figure out who an image belongs to. They then got a random letter from Getty with a fat bill for all kinds of images which were downloaded off the internet. The only explanation is that Getty use a bot which basically does a pixel match algorithm to figure out what images are being used.

    Whoever has stolen your work my ignore your email/letter but they wouldn't ignore a letter from Getty! So basically pass on the headache to someone else

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    Quote Originally Posted by Izi View Post
    It's all this morbid Catholic "let's stare at god's goopy asshole" stuff rather than the science, stars and logos stuff we're trying to promote.
    Doesn't have anything to do with the art theft, but all I can see on that page is esoterical blabber. It's a bit rich to pass that off as "science"...

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    Ten dots arranged in a triangle? You haven't a hope of claiming ownership.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Sorry to hijack the thread, Izi, but the exact same thing happened to me.
    http://salemsmoon.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/the-triple-goddess/ (it's the green triple goddess piece)
    They don't give credit, even cropped the image to remove my signature and url, and they are not some personal blog- they are running an online shop. Any advice what to do? I'm based overseas, so legal action would be very difficult, and I don't want to register this piece with Getty.

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    Welcome to the internet. You can't possibly keep your images in one place; as soon as it goes online, it stays online forever. If you don't want anything to be stolen, don't post it.

    I do not wish to offend you in any way, just saying that whatever you do won't stop people from stealing it. I "steal" images a lot; as a wallpapers, although for personal use only. I can remove signatures, watermarks, tweak the colors, retouch something etc.

    Unless the theft inflicts financial loss to you or harms you in some way, apart form hurting your feelings, just let it go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spellsword95 View Post
    Unless the theft inflicts financial loss to you or harms you in some way, apart form hurting your feelings, just let it go.
    Yeah well, if the artwork is used commercially that does inflict financial loss on the artist. Which was kind of the point I think.

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    benu - I left them a little message on their site.

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    @Spellsword: Thank you so much for kindly welcoming me to the internet!

    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Yeah well, if the artwork is used commercially that does inflict financial loss on the artist. Which was kind of the point I think.
    Exactly. If someone wants to use it like this I'm entitled to charge a license fee, and he knows it. That's the purpose of copyright laws- they exist to help artists not to starve, you know. The question is how to enforce these rights in situations like this, not how to get my stuff off the internet.
    If people download or share my art on their personal blog that's fine, even if they forget to give credit, I don't really care- and since I use the internet regulaly for a couple of years now, I'm also perfectly aware that this happens a lot.

    @Black Spot- Thank you! What did you tell them?

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    Its pretty simple, just find out where they are domiciled i.e. who the domain is registered to, the legal entity etc... Most countries have a pretty simple small claims court process which is usually cheap and simple to use. Designed for exactly this kind of thing. These guys arent going to be professional rip off artists or hiding behind interesting copyright laws like the piratebay. They'll just be run of the mill morons who think they can get away with it.

    If you apply a claim, they won't have any defence so they'll settle out of court. Of course usually you don't need to bother. You just send them a simple email telling them that you are the copyright holder and that they are to remove the image from their website or face court action. In terms of the amount to claim, well you can just go for the maximum. In the UK this is something like 5,000 GBP.

    There was a recent case where a photographer in Haiti posted up an image pertaining to the earthquake in his twitter feed or something like that. Agence France presse put the image out on their wire. The photographer sued and won several millions for breach of copyright. The amount awarded was nothing to do with the amount that afp made by selling the photo. They wouldnt have made more than a few tens of thousands. The guy landed on a veritable pot of gold due to some idiot picture editor who really should have known better. Of course he knew that afp could pay out big. If your image had been stolen by Sony entertainment I'd say go for gold, but in this case a small claim is probably about right and a stiff email to cease and desist will probably get it taken down instantly.

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    Thank you, I'll look into the small court process. They are based in the US, I in Germany; these things work a little different here. So I think I'll just send a cease and desist letter and hope that they will comply. I have no desire to go through with a lawsuit in the US, even if it's less expensive and risky than I thought.

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    Its easy. Find the nearest county court. You fill out some forms, pay for the sherrif to serve a notice and wait for his response. Doesn't cost much I think it was 50 Euros equivalent last time I had the displeasure of having to check - someone didn't want to pay me, but it was an open and shut case so they soon changed their minds. Same as in your case... You can prove copyright so job done.

    There's no point trying to chase them for money they don't have though and you need to show that you made reasonable efforts before going to court. So a simple cease and desist will suffice. Or you can try and bill them for usage... Either way enforcing it isn't difficult if they are in the US. International business couldn't run smoothly if there was no rule of law! Just because you are in Germany and they are in the us doesn't mean you shouldn't have justice. If I were you I would find out which is their local county court and mention that you will apply for a cease and desist order and monetary compensation from said court. It will make them think you are serious even if you're not.

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    I just told them they were using stolen artwork, to remove it or contact you at your website. If they get half a dozen posts like that, they might take notice if google starts linking 'stolen artwork' to their site.

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    It worked! they took it down and replaced it with another image.

    That is why you thought it was just a Tetractys, Stoat! Actually it's funny, they stole ANOTHER image m1thr0s created (the tetractys there now) but this is at least a very generic Tetractys with grid instead of a much more important and unique image that they simply cannot account for with Catholic language.

    I am conversing now with a lawyer in town and I don't want to go to Getty because I'm afraid they just do royalty free. I am not willing to do royalty free and I am willing to manage our rights myself. I have been working on a image database so we'll have our own stock house. I encourage any artist to do the same.

    You can begin very easily with a Wordpress site and the plugin Sell Media (I reccomend using the base Twenty-fourteen theme and buying the $30 addon pack for watermarking which is essential.)

    Also I wanted to address one fallacy which was mentioned by someone in the thread - "just let it go it's doing no harm" THE TRUTH IS: IF YOU DO NOT DEFEND YOUR COPYRIGHTS, YOU LOSE LEGAL FOOTING. This is why all copyrights and art theft must be addressed IMMEDIATELY. There is no wiggle room here. I used to tell people not to worry about copyrights so much, but the truth is you need to be VERY worried about it due to the way the legal system works in the USA

    And guess what - I DO NOT even download for personal use unless the artist offers it. This attitude of appropriation is theft, it is wrong, and you are wrong for thinking that personal use shouldn't require a cost. It's like walking into a grocery store, stealing a candy bar without permission and saying "It's okay, I'm just eating it for personal enjoyment, not reselling it" YOU ARE A THIEF.

    Use Wikimedia or other public domain/donation sites to gather material, it is easy and simple to make sure your free clipart and reference photos are royalty free, or that the artist has VOLUNTARILY given it out for free.

    I also had the Tumblr and Wordpress copies taken down, both Tumblr and Wordpress are very responsive to DCMA takedown requests.

    Last edited by Izi; April 16th, 2014 at 12:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by benu View Post
    Sorry to hijack the thread, Izi, but the exact same thing happened to me.
    http://salemsmoon.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/the-triple-goddess/ (it's the green triple goddess piece)
    They don't give credit, even cropped the image to remove my signature and url, and they are not some personal blog- they are running an online shop. Any advice what to do? I'm based overseas, so legal action would be very difficult, and I don't want to register this piece with Getty.
    OMG it's a Wordpress site - SOOOO easy to get it taken down. Just fill out this form: http://automattic.com/dmca-notice/

    It is a really nice triskelion, you should get paid for their use! Also, curse the shit out of them!

    Last edited by Izi; April 16th, 2014 at 12:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Izi View Post
    And guess what - I DO NOT even download for personal use unless the artist offers it. This attitude of appropriation is theft, it is wrong, and you are wrong for thinking that personal use shouldn't require a cost. It's like walking into a grocery store, stealing a candy bar without permission and saying "It's okay, I'm just eating it for personal enjoyment, not reselling it" YOU ARE A THIEF.
    That is fundamentally wrong both on a logical as well as a legal level. By uploading an image to the internet, you're in fact giving it to anyone who opens the website on which the image is shown. Their machine has to download it in order to show it. The comparison to the stolen candybar is just pure bs.

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    There is a BIG difference between stealing a candy bar and walking into a store (PRIVATE PROPERTY!) to look at it. I take it you're one of those people who think it's okay to pirate code and and music too. I am not one of those people. I think there is a CLEAR line between right and wrong people choose to step over all the time. I am not condemning anyone for this attitude of appropriation but I feel like in the place I am now, it is definately an advantage to me to respect other's rights and in doing so I help protect my rights.

    There is also a BIG difference between going to an artist's website to look at their art and DOWNLOADING it to a special folder on your computer, (deliberately with willful intent - not merely using a browser as a viewer) reuploading it to YOUR web space and using it to PROMOTE AND SELL YOUR GOODS.

    Especially if those goods are antithetical to the original artist's beliefs, life work and intended artistic message!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Izi View Post

    There is also a BIG difference between going to an artist's website to look at their art and DOWNLOADING it to a special folder on your computer
    Theres no difference, both in factual as in legal terms.

    Using someone elses artwork commercially without paying a license, sure, thats theft. But suggesting that downloading an image file is theft is just lunacy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Theres no difference, both in factual as in legal terms.

    Using someone elses artwork commercially without paying a license, sure, thats theft. But suggesting that downloading an image file is theft is just lunacy.

    And who exactly is suggesting that? Did you even read my post?

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    You did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Izi View Post
    I DO NOT even download for personal use unless the artist offers it. This attitude of appropriation is theft, it is wrong, and you are wrong for thinking that personal use shouldn't require a cost. It's like walking into a grocery store, stealing a candy bar without permission and saying "It's okay, I'm just eating it for personal enjoyment, not reselling it" YOU ARE A THIEF.


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    Oh I see now, well I apologize. I thought you were talking about the previous post. I am sorry if that bothers you but I do think it is theft. I am not angry about it and I am not condemning anyone for it as I said. I am not going to download something unless the artist has okay'd it. I thought about this alot and there is really no wiggle room on this issue for me. The standard of morality I have is not yours of course, so do as you like. I believe the best course of action is to ask first if it is not specified already.

    What offends me a lot and something I will get pretty action oriented about is theft, an attitude of appropriating something just because it's on the internet, and then using it to promote one's own work for the purpose of fame, money or other goods.

    So let's just carry on with you thinking I'm a lunatic and me thinking you're a thief, I don't have time for this conversation anymore.

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    I already explained to you that putting an image file onto a website means that anybody who views the website has to download it in order to see it. There is absolutely no difference between that and manually downloading it. All you have to do is open your cache folder. There is no difference between a cache / temp folder and a normal folder. the file is on your harddrive if you see it on your screen. By your definition, you're also a thief. We're all thieves.

    Pure lunacy.

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    I've found some more infingements like this. One with the same image, also cropped, on a facebook site as profile image. All of them use the art to promote esoteric products or services. The weirdest one is a lady named Lilith who sells the spirit of a dragon bound to a cheap piece of jewellery for $78. I think I'll try to bill all of them, but I'm not sure how much to charge- is there a standard fee for licensing existing art for web use?
    How can I document a copyright infringement to prove it if necessary? I mean... they can just remove the infringing copy and pretend it never happened. Is a screenshot or saving the page to my hard drive enough? Those things are easy to fabricate.

    @Izi- it wasn't the triskelion, it was this: http://hannahboeving.com/wp-content/...goettinnen.jpg. Looks like he removed it already (along with Black Spots comment).

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    Well if you go with the case of the photographer who got his work stolen by AFP and ended up with a payout of millions, there's not really a limit as such as to what you can expect. Just a practical limit in terms of what you think they might or might not pay. These are small time infringers (as opposed to someone like Sony Entertainment or Agence France Presse) - so you're unlikely to get any money out of them to be fair. Personally I wouldn't bother billing them, just issue a cease and desist order. These guys are obviously cheapskates otherwise they would have made the effort to buy it off you in the first place. As for the lady selling dragon souls or whatsits - f*cking hell man... if she's happy to scam people like that - she's happy to not pay you a penny. Much easier to just go straight into a cease and desist than to go - oh hey you can use it but only if you pay me x - then she can go - oh well I don't think x is reasonable - or I'll pay you soon - wait wait - oh nothing happens - another invoice - pay me now - wait wait - oh nothing - oh NOW cease and desist. During which time several months and hassle have elapsed and meanwhile she's being using your image all she likes.

    If you really DO want to bill her - there's things to take into account with licensing - is it a one off use - is she going to be replicating the image (i.e. printing it on a T-shirt) - is it just being used to sell a product - how much of the value of the sale derives from your illustration? These things might or might not be taken into account. If you go down a county court judge route - this is probably how he or she will think about it - and he/she may just come up with an arbitrary number regardless of what you think or don't think is reasonable. You could go the angle of the cost you would have charged had you been commissioned to do this piece exclusively - (provided this wasn't already paid work for someone else) - that would be easy - just tot up the number of hours etc... but it also means they'd have full rights as a client would expect, for said work. That's most likely to be the upper scale of things in your case.

    I'm sure that photographer hired a proper copyright lawyer and the case went to a judge who knew about copyright law - which resulted in the massive payout, but this is small potatoes...

    As for certifying that she'd used your art work - well I can think of lots of ways to go about it. As you said, screenshot, photo, signed 3rd party witness. If it goes to a county court you'll just be convincing a judge (think of judge judy) - so you gotta think of what seems reasonable. It's pretty unlikely that you'd take someone to court when they hadn't stolen your copyright so just because it was taken off and they go 'I didn't do it your honor' probably wouldn't save them because the infringement still occured But just so as you don't take any risks - write everything down. Write down the date that you first noticed the infringement. Write down all the particulars of what it was being used to sell. Write down when you first informed them of the infringement. Write down if they take it down or not... If they take it down in a timely manner its difficult for you to pursue it because they could just say 'we didn't know, but when we were informed we acted with all reasonable haste to restore copyright' - so it's important you keep track of everything that happens. If it takes them several weeks or months from when you inform them to when they actually act to remove the image (or pay you) - that makes a difference.

    I hope that's helpful... I've been on the arse end of a couple of law battles for much higher stakes but the general idea is the same nonetheless... get your story straight - get your facts straight - keep an accurate account... that's the main thing.

    K

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  39. The Following User Says Thank You to lovingit For This Useful Post:

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  40. #29
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    I see... Then it's different in Germany. Here the infringer gets a "Abmahnung" from the copyright holder's attorney which means he has to pay a high compensation for damages - a fictional license fee, this can be a few thousand Euros for one photo-, the copyright holder's attorney AND he has to sign a cease and desist declaration. The infinger can - with the help of an attorney- negotiate a lower fee, but if he can't prove he's innocent, he has to pay something. You can even get a Abmahnung when the infringement is strictly noncommercial (then it's "only" 150€ for the attorney plus damages), or if you are allowed to publish the image but forget to give credit to the artist.
    If I understand this correctly I can either send them a cease and desist notice- which costs them nothing - or a bill, which (when paid) grants them future usage rights? No bill for damages they've aleady done without giving them any usage rights? That doesn't seem right, there isn't any actual financial risk for the infringer?! Flying to the US for court or hiring a US lawyer is too expensive for me and probably not worth it in these cases. So it's more difficult to get justice and money for small potatoes like us than it should be in theory. Btw, those esoteric potatoes can be quite big indeed- just think of the profit margins!
    I found a nice site for documenting: freezepage.org. It saves a copy of a website which can't be manipulated by the user so this might be useful too.
    Thanks again for sharing your experience! It's good to know what to expect.

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    @benedikt Yeah yeah yeah, welcome to my ignore list, enjoy the stale doughnuts while you crap on artist's rights and the dead silence piped in from I don't give a fuck.

    The weirdest one is a lady named Lilith who sells the spirit of a dragon bound to a cheap piece of jewellery for $78. I think I'll try to bill all of them, but I'm not sure how much to charge- is there a standard fee for licensing existing art for web use?

    The thing with billing is it has to be a BIG company with an accounts payable department...and I have no idea how big that shitty catholic site was but it seemed to have some income behind it. so my guess is some dorky goth named lilith who sells shitty charms isn't going to pay you.
    I'd do what Lovingit suggested and send a cease and desist, make it sound official, send it on a letterhead if at all possible. There are ways to find out where someone hosts. If it's hosted by a big site like Ebay or Wordpress, all the better - these companies, once they find out about shenanigans, are VERY responsive and the penalties will often include complete shut down of their operations.

    So we got two stolen images on shitty sites taken down in this thread? Progress is sweet! but considering the payouts, why arn't we ALL just trying to get our work stolen so we can sue for millions?

    Nice painting by the way! Also Dragons don't really like being confined to cheap plastic charms or even being associated with them...vain creatures you know....and deadly. So give a real dragon a heads up and maybe they'll take care of it for you....if "Lilith" ends up with a really irate dragon on her ass she'll think twice before stealing art XD

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