This story started about 2 weeks ago when I received an e-mail from a gentleman having issues with USB Host shield made by DFrobot – a well-known cloner. The shield itself is a mix of my and Sparkfun’s designs and mine has been released “for non-commercial use”. As usual, DFrobot haven’t added any value to the mix, even schematic they used to present as theirs is a verbatim copy of mine, including copyright and license. The gentleman bought his shield at Jameco Electronics – a reputable US retailer.
I looked at the product page and quickly realized that the page was carefully crafted from several elements from my site. First, the title picture was taken from the following blog post, and it shows my shield, not DFRobot’s. Under it, they used the product description from my product page, almost verbatim – the notion about soldering headers is especially funny since DFrobot’s shield comes with pre-soldered headers. Under the product description they posted a bunch of links, again, to my site, showing people how to use my shield.
From my e-mail exchange with a gentleman I learned an e-mail of Gil Orozco, V.P. of Product Management at Jameco, and immediately contacted this no doubt important and powerful official explaining my worries. I was quickly assured that the issue will be investigated and fixed in “a day or two”. I waited for about a week and checked again – nothing happened. I contacted her/him again and had been given a deadline “by 9am tomorrow”. I checked again this evening and found out that nothing really changed – the picture is still there, the product description is still there and the link to my non-commercial schematic is still there. To my disappointment, V.P.s are not really that helpful. For Jameco, maybe, for a small maker company like yours truly, not a whole lot. Clearly, I needed a different approach.
The fix was surprisingly easy. By inspecting the web page (see screenshot below, click on it to make it larger) I found out that Jameco didn’t even bother to copy the image but merely embedded it in their product page. They decided to keep displaying my shield on their product page even after I specifically asked them to remove it.
Now, I’m a copyright holder of an image and Jameco is infringing; maybe it’s time to call a lawyer? Nah, it’s too late in the evening and I want to do something right away. Besides, I’ve been there before and know what is going to happen – a lawyer will send standard cease and desist letter on his/her letterhead, charge me $250, Jameco will pull the picture. Where’s the fun in that?
Now, since they are displaying the image which resides on my site it’s simply a matter of replacing the ADK terminal with something else. After going through many candidates ranging from funny to offensive to borderline and not-so-borderline pornographic (Internet is awesome!) I decided to follow advice of one prudent person, who said – “Just tell people about your product. Yours is cheaper and since you designed it you provide real support. People might like it”. So I did just that. The screenshot below shows how the page looks like – it is hosted here for your viewing pleasure in case Jameco decides to fix it. Again, the mode was performed by changing _my_ image on _my_ site – I didn’t touch anything on Jameco’s. Have fun with it. Tell your friends. I did.
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