One of the pitfalls of an artist that lists and sells on the internet, is the never ending copies of their artwork. I have fallen victim to so many unauthorized copies of my art it's just ridiculous!! I find them through collector's, fans and licensing partners who notify me of possible infringements and I also receive google alerts for my name and specific keywords that alert me of copyright infringements. I can also do specific image searches on Google that will often unearth infringements.
The constant need to police my art can be so very draining at times, but I have come to accept that it's an unfortunate part of the business of the internet these days. Having said that however, it is still wrong and should NOT happen! I follow up on each and every instance of these infringements, which can be very time consuming and frustrating, especially when many of these infringer's are less than cooperative and come up with all kinds of excuses; when there really is no excuse to use someone's art without their permission, especially when it's so very easy to contact artists through the internet.
One of the most common excuses I receive is the infringer saying they were only "Inspired" by my art, and it's not an actual copy because it isn't a direct print out of my art. This however is still NOT okay, only the original creator of a piece of artwork is allowed to create derivative copies, and the 10% rule, or any other percentage rule is not a legal defense. By the 10% rule I mean when someone claims they changed up 10% of an original artwork in some way gets them off the hook...uh, no it doesn't!
It's always so much better, not to mention more artistically rewarding, to create your own unique artwork than to copy someone's else's. I want to show some examples of infringing copies versus art that is inspired by someone else. There is a HUGE difference and it needs to be pointed out to so many artists, some who know what they are doing is wrong and some who innocently don't understand, but need to.
Inspiration can be anything that makes you want to create, whether it be a sunset you see, a painting of a particular scene, a photograph of a distant location, the colors on a butterfly, you name it, inspiration is everywhere! And I am constantly inspired by anything and everything around me. I recently saw this beautiful painting created by Walfrido on his Facebook page of a stunning tropical sunset. I've been a huge fan of his work for many years, mostly because of his subject matter of serene and peaceful ocean/tropical scenes, and his use of color is breathtaking. I instantly felt compelled to create a tropical sunset painting myself, but here is where the inspiration ended and my own unique style and vision came into play, which is how it should be when we are inspired. Inspiration is about seeing something and being moved by it, moved to create something completely new and unique, not about copying the inspiration itself.
Shown above is the inspiration of Walfrido's stunning tropical painting to my PoP Art Style Tropical painting. This is when inspiration works and is NOT a copy or an infringement of another artists work, this is about being emotionally inspired by something someone else created and creating a totally new and unique work of art.
Now, on the flip side of the coin there are paintings that take "inspiration" to a whole different level that IS copyright infringement. Look at the example below, my art is on the left and the copies on the right, the resemblance is too exact to be anything but a direct copy and no inspiration to create something new ever occurred. There is no excuse for this kind of copyright infringement, especially considering these copies were profited from!
I found this infringement some time ago when searching for paint party studios (many of which have a disturbing frequency of copying artists work without permission), and I saw the inset image as shown below labelled "Fall Moonlight" listed on a calendar for a painting class. The image is literally a direct copy of my "Fall Inspiration" painting from 2007 (to the left); I did some more searching and found their Facebook page where the larger image was shown as one of the copies from the class, as it had already occurred. This is a clear cut case of copyright infringement and shows a complete lack of disrespect for artists and the law. There is no inspiration here at all, it's just copying my art and profiting from it, no one asked my permission to use it nor did they offer to compensate me for it. I sent them a cease and desist and they discontinued using it.
The purpose of this blog post is to make people aware of the difference between being inspired by someone else's art and copying art that is a direct violation of copyright law. I hope this is helpful for many of you, and also a post that you can share as reference to anyone who might be confused about the difference. Thank you!!
There is a very disturbing trend in the "Business of Art", a new way of copying artists work and profiting from it without any recognition or compensation to the artist. It goes under the guise of being a "paint party studio". The premise behind this type of business, which can be legitimate and a fun way for family and friends to go out and get in touch with their creative side, is to enjoy an evening out and learn how to paint a particular image in a few hours that you can then take home with you. Each class can be anywhere from a handful of patrons to a room full, upwards of 50 people, learning how to all paint the same painting.
Typically the artwork that is being "taught" has either been created by the teacher themselves, the owner of the establishment or licensed to be used by another artist who then receives royalties and copyright recognition of the original artwork. But, what is beginning to happen, as this type of business is becoming immensely popular, is that the owners of the paint party studios begin to look for "inspiration" for new artwork to teach from. Unfortunately, far too many of the owners go to "Pinterest" or "Google Images" and simply take images directly from these and other online sources and teach a roomful of people to paint artwork wholly created by another artist. The owner or teacher claims it to be their original idea and at no time do they bother to contact or give recognition or compensation to the original creator/artist of said artwork.
Not only is this in violation of U.S. copyright laws (Under 17 U.S.C. 504) and illegal, but it's immoral to take another artists work and claim it as your own and profit from it. These are all "For Profit" businesses and not the same situation as a class where you are learning to paint different techniques and styles such as in college, so the "Fair Use" copyright code simply does not apply here. This is more like "paint by numbers" that is fun and enjoyable to the patrons, but, in many cases, harmful to the artists whose work is being illegally profited from.
As an artist who is continually fighting these establishments, who repeatedly take my original art and claim it as their own, I have finally got to the point where I can no longer sit back and wait for it to happen again, as it surely well. It needs to be brought to the public's attention that many of these companies are not doing business legitimately or legally, and at the expense of artists striving to make a living with their art.
If you are interested in taking a class at one of these studios, please make a simple inquiry prior to signing up, and ask them where they get their art from and that you are aware that sometimes artists work is stolen without compensation or recognition to the artist and you don't want to support that kind of behavior. If these companies know that they are being watched and "policed" to prevent this from happening it CAN make a difference.
Please support artists who are trying to make a living with their art, it's not an easy career choice by any means. It takes a lot of creativity, imagination, hard work and endless hours of marketing to make a living as an artist. So, every time someone steals an artist's work and doesn't compensate them they are taking money out of that artists pocket and going against all the hard work and effort that artist has put into their livelihood and passion. It is also very damaging to an artist's business to have no control over who reproduces their art, where it is displayed, who is profiting from it, etc, it is bad for business and an artist's brand.
Below is just one example of my own art being copied in a Wine and Paint Party Studio out of New York without my permission or recognition/compensation in any way. There is NO question where they got their "inspiration" from, this goes far beyond inspiration and is a direct copy of my painting.
This is an illegal copy situation of my original copyright registered painting "Dreaming in Gold"©.
I, and many other artists license our work to a very reputable Paint Party Establishment that respects the rights of artists and provides us with recognition and compensation for the use of our art images: Uptown Art, with locations across the country and more coming soon. Please know that if you frequent Uptown Art paint parties you are helping to support living artists and having fun at the same time!!
Here are some great resources on both what is and isn't in the "Public Domain" and whether it is or isn't okay to copy and sell someone else's art. As more come available I will add to the list and be sure to share with me any pertinent information you have as well, in order to help fix and prevent this out of control copyright infringement issue.
Another great blog post by fellow artist Alex Colombo on: "Inspiration of Infringement"
As we are now in the busiest shopping time of the year, we are all looking for those great deals on the perfect gift, but this is also a great time to stock up on your Business and Art Supplies at unbeatable prices!
Here are some great deals to take advantage of from my go to suppliers; and also remember to keep a look out from some of YOUR favorite art and business supply retailers too.
STAPLES (business supplies): Is currently having a buy 2 get one 50% off on ink and toner, I just stocked up on my Epson 1400 printer ink!
DICK BLICK (art supplies): And, Dick Blick just HAPPENS to carry one of my all time favorite canvases ever, the Genie Canvas!! Up to 20% off and Free shipping on orders over $89 ~ I need to go take stock of all my art supplies and see what I need or may need soon.
STICKER YOU (custom stickers): I just LOVE the quality and pricing at Sticker You. I usually purchase some fun stickers as giveaways or for sponsoring my MAD Outfitters Mountain biking team members. The quality is amazing and the fact that you can get die cut, transparent backing stickers custom made just for you is great! They are having a 40% off EVERYTHING sale right now! I need to reorder some biking stickers and maybe some mailing stickers too.
Be sure to sign up for all your favorite art supply and business supply retailers newsletters so you can always know when they are having the best deals all year long. This is the perfect time to stock up for the New Year, it will get you motivated to create new art and help on lowering that dreaded tax bill come April, a Win-Win!
Please share with me and my readers any great deals/sales you come across in the comments section, thank you!!