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"
12/4/2014 03:36:01 am
Very well said, Megan! You discuss excellent points.
12/4/2014 03:55:53 am
Thank you Nina! We need to bring attention to this and start getting the respect we deserve, and to defend our lawful rights!
12/4/2014 04:23:11 am
Thank you Sally! Just trying to spread the word, and hopefully have all of this in check one day, hopefully soon! Too many artists work hard for their business, and to have other's just come in and effortlessly profit off it illegally is shameful!
12/4/2014 12:18:27 pm
Sorry this happened to you ... and yes, I'm hearing it's become quite the thing. Good for you for getting the word out so clearly. I've tweeted.
12/10/2014 12:08:00 am
Thank you so much for sharing Lois!
12/4/2014 01:58:28 pm
wowee. These folks are caught red-handed and still try to weasel out of it. Thanks for your huge efforts to help stop these thefts, Megan!
12/10/2014 12:08:44 am
Thank YOU Patty! I know you have to deal with the same issue, and between us we can help to make more people aware of the problem and hopefully one day, eradicate or at least minimize the problem.
12/5/2014 09:22:47 am
12/10/2014 12:07:29 am
Thank you so much for understanding the law and respecting artists rights Melisa, we all appreciate it very much!
12/5/2014 11:51:07 am
I appreciate your article and your efforts to educate the public!
12/10/2014 12:09:09 am
Thank you Nancy :)
12/6/2014 08:00:30 am
Thank you for confiming my suspicions.
12/10/2014 12:09:52 am
Unfortunately it is true Sandy :( But, by getting the word out about the problem I hope we can educate enough people to minimize these situations going forward, thank you!
I had no idea theses painting parties used art from sources other than original art created by the people teaching the classes.i suspect competing painting party places would also lift images from competitor sites...which also leaves the door open to rip off from the artists who are licensing. Sad but always a potential whenever images are posted online. And how can anyone chase this?
12/16/2014 12:38:36 am
Yes, they do lift from each other quite frequently and create derivative copies of derivative copies. It's very frustrating to see this happen and they continue as if it's perfectly okay. I am constantly sending cease and desists and notifying other artists of the infringements and currently have a case against one of the larger companies pending in Federal Court. We just have to be more diligent in today's online world about copyright infringement and bring attention to the problem.
12/11/2014 08:19:08 am
As a working artist I completely concur with the article. Having your work stolen is infuriating. What is not clear to me is this; what can you do. Copyright attorneys won't even touch this kind of thing. It seems to me that although it is illegal that the law is almost unenforceable on a practical level till it gets into an area where millions of dollars are at stake. Even then an attorney working on contingency will get most of any settlement.
12/16/2014 12:40:49 am
Copyright attorneys WILL touch these situations because they are a clear cut case of copyright infringement. The problem is a lot of artists believe there is nothing they can do, and so they do nothing, and the problem just continues to grow. And with these companies there is millions of dollars at stake as they rake in a lot of money with these parties, staggering amounts in fact. And I personally have a suit in Federal Court against one of the larger companies, and a lawyer did pick it up and believes it is a good case to pursue. If we sit back and nothing, nothing will be done, it's as simple as that.
12/14/2014 08:21:26 pm
Although I agree with everything said in the article, may I just say that the copy is a poor attempt - nothing comes close to the depth and detail of the original!
12/16/2014 12:41:38 am
Thank you Elria :)
12/31/2014 04:51:48 am
I was not aware of this practice concerning the art parties. There have been similar activities in my area of Ohio, and I am sure everyone would like to be aware of this potential issue. I am personally sorry to hear of the infringement of your copyright. I, too, have experienced this painful sting of recognition. I will pass along this instance of abuse, so it will be no surprise to my fellow art group members. Thank you so much for publishing to this blog.
1/6/2015 03:06:36 am
Unfortunately it is far too common of an occurrence and would like to bring visibility to the issue and encourage these paint party studios to legitimately license art from artists, rather than directly copying from the internet. I hope we can all spread the word and bring some attention to an ever growing problem! Thank you Melanie!
9/3/2015 08:37:27 am
Perhaps you should read about copyrights. If I look at your picture and draw, not trace, that image, that is not infringing on your copyright.
9/4/2015 03:36:42 pm
9/9/2021 08:08:03 pm
Just curious, what if someone sold or wanted to sell the "copy" they created with their own hand, BUT did NOT claim it was their art work nor put their signature on it. Legal or no?
1/15/2016 04:33:38 pm
Thank you for writing about this issue. I just went through an application process to be an artist for a small business paint party company. The company is owned by people who are friends of a friend, so I thought it would be ok. They had me audition and teach them a painting that I created. I thought it went really well. I told them that I wanted them to also pay me for the right to use my art for the paint parties and pay for my prep time. The company didn't call me back until I asked my friend about them. Then they said they did not want to use me for paint parties. They still have two of my paintings and I emailed to let them know that I wanted to pick the paintings up. They have not responded to my email, so I plan to go in person and retrieve my work. I hope they will be honest and not try to steal my art. I am very upset about this turn of events. I thought I was going to get a fun opportunity, but it is turning into a pain.
12/25/2016 10:14:24 am
As a person who frequents these classes, I appreciate this insight and will, from now on, ask. What are the rules on thenext generation - ie, can I sell a painting done by me at one of these classes? I was thinking about clearing out some old canvasses - maybe for the cost of the class plus a little bit. Thank you for your guidance.
5/23/2017 01:19:44 am
This article says repeatedly that the art instructor takes credit for the art work that the paint party is following her, to reproduce. What if the art teacher has the customers bring or pick out an artist's painting they like and want to paint it and take it home (not sell it). However, the art teacher/company is still charging a fee to paint another artist's painting but they know it's another artist's painting. Is that also infringement? Say the art teacher/company doing these paint parties do not have the permission of each artist to use their painting to reproduce as closely as possible (not tracing) but with the help of the instructor...tje customer comes in with a picture of a painting (a living artist), the art teacher the paint party place helps that customer paint that painting, making a few changes here and there but it's obviously close to the original...but everyone knows they are painting someone elses painting for fun and just for themselves....but they do pay the fee to the paint party place where they do this and where they are guided as to how they do this...with no permission from the original artist. A problem?
Yes, absolutely a problem. Any litigation lawyer will let you know...in writing or in court.
5/16/2018 07:37:28 pm
I am aware of a company that is using other people's pics to hold paint nite. You mention above to report it. Who would you report it to? They are using a large cooperation's pics
January E Simpson
4/3/2018 02:01:13 am
So hit me up ;)
I owned a paint and sip franchise for 8 years. I challenged a previous instructor that opened a competing paint and sip over copyright issues. After 1.5 years of the franchise Corporate attorneys sending ease and desist letters, damages amounted to to $7000. I was advised that it would cost me $100,000 just to collect the damages. It was a no brainer not to pursue. Franchise Corporate attorney simply mails out the fancy letters on the franchisee's behalf It is up to the individual franchisee to negate. Damages were determined by how many times the competitor made money off the copyright painting at $35 plus royalty. I believe the copyright laws were designed for artists that sell their art for millions of dollars per piece. They are the O the one's that can afford the hefty attorney cost. It's sad to say but it is known in the paint and sip industry that one can just change up a few details of a painting and then it passes the test. I wish u all the best with your case and hope it is favorable
6/3/2018 08:36:37 am
How does someone go about contacting an artist for permission to create a likeness of their work?
8/8/2019 10:44:16 pm
I am in Canada, and (1) wonder if these laws apply, (2) have paired to copy an artists work, and (3) have duplicated art from Bob Ross, Utube and Pinterest, along with photos. I have also replicated Picos’s work, done a poor job on the Mona Lisa and the group of seven ‘s work. I’m having fun with the challenge. I have traveled to the Northern region of Manitoba to bring art to the community. We do copy artists with a Northern variation. An I doing something illegal? I just assumed that the original artist, when sharing with 20+ random people, that it is fair game! Also, no one painting is the same, everyone’s turns out differently.
1/9/2021 08:12:03 pm
Appreciatee your blog post
4/3/2021 08:08:46 am
Hey thanks for posting this useful information about the business of paint party studios and copyright infringement here, I really hope it will be helpful to many. It will help a lot; these types of content should get appreciated. I will bookmark your site; I hope to read more such informative contents in future. Appreciative content!
I appreciate your post. I worry about these issues. Where do you get your ideas for paintings? It would be great for more paint party businesses to teach other businesses the HOW to create original ideas. I went to art school back in the day and was taught to use real life as a source of inspiration. Sometimes, with so much media in our faces, inspiration may come from an idea once viewed online or something. It can almost be difficult to be original anymore. BUT I totally see how the example above it totally copied from your original work. I love this post, I love the reminder for myself and it makes me think about my own teaching and how I can encourage originality. I always do encourage my students to feel free to design something else. I mostly teach kids, so they love the freedom to add their own ideas to their work. I think I could encourage this more with adults. You got the wheels turning in my mind.
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