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!!