Saturday, October 29, 2011


It seems there has been a bout of copyright infringement going on - again.  This stuff never ends and people don't seem to realize what is okay to post and what is not okay to post.  Here are some hints:

If I post a painting I painted that was influenced by a painting you did - and don't mention that it's influenced by your work and link to your blog - that is wrong.  It may be an oversight - if so, then fix it.  If it's not an oversight, don't do it; it's wrong.

If I post a painting that is obviously your painting but cropped and the color temperature changed - and don't mention that I have just posted your painting on my blog with your name and a link to your blog - this is creating-some-very-bad-karma wrong.

Seems like this has happened to Jane Minter.  Now, Jane has a style all her own - soft, lovely, loose, beautiful.  I don't think just anyone could take a Jane Minter painting and copy it and make it look just like the Jane Minter painting.  I think someone could take a Jane Minter painting and crop it and put it on their blog and say they painted it.  But that is wrong.

What do you think?  Here are the paintings (1) done by Jane and (2) claimed by the other blogger...

Jane's painting that I cropped from her original.

The painting claimed by the other blogger as a painting she did "from a painting."  She didn't mention Jane's name or blog.


Look at these two paintings and tell me - do you think this other blogger actually painted this painting?  Or is it a copy from Jane's blog?

You can find more information and voice your opinion at Jane's blog here.

The problem is, this is acceptable behavior, especially in the big leagues. 
You don't think so? 
Well, what about Shepard Fairey and his work on the Barack Obama Hope posters - that were photos illegally appropriated from an Associated Press photographer who took the photo during Obama's campaign.

From Wikipedia about this issue:

The HOPE poster was based on a copyrighted photograph taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia while on assignment for the Associated Press (AP), which wants credit and compensation for the work.[45] However, Garcia believes that he personally owns the copyright for the photo, and has said, "If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it's had."[46] Fairey has said that his use of it falls within the legal definition of fair use.[47] Lawyers for both sides were discussing an amicable agreement.[48] In February 2009, Fairey filed a federal lawsuit against the Associated Press, seeking a declaratory judgment that his use of the AP photograph was protected by the fair use doctrine and so did not infringe their copyright.[49] In October 2009 Shepard Fairey admitted to trying to deceive the Court by destroying evidence that he had used the photograph alleged by the AP. His lawyers announced they were no longer representing him, and Laurence Pulgram, an intellectual property lawyer stated that the revelation definitely put Mr. Fairey's case "in trouble".[50][51] In May 2010, a judge urged Fairey to settle.[52] The parties settled in January of 2011.[53]

Fairey was questioned about criticism surrounding his use of images from social movements, specifically images created by artists of color, in an interview with Liam O'Donoghue for Mother Jones. O'Donoghue later posted an article, titled "Shepard Fairey’s Image Problem", on several independent media sites.[54] The article explored Fairey's use of copyright protected images while at the same time defending his copyright protected works from being used by other artists and corporations. Fairey cited his collaboration with Public Enemy, his funding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, and his six-figure charitable contributions for Darfur assistance as counterpoints to the charges of exploitation.

Full article here:

So... if this happens when people are talking about big bucks and big names, how is a smaller artist who isn't a household name to defend his/her work from another who claims it as their own?  I don't know the answer to the problem.  Each person has to find the answer within.  I hate that this has caused one of my favorite bloggers (Maggie Latham) to stop posting her 1,000 Washes challenge blog (because she, too, has recently been the victim of copyright infringement).

I think I'll continue to post my stuff as I create it.  In fact, I'm thinking that putting my work out there gives me a solid background to prove the work is mine, especially since I do a lot of works in progress paintings.

What's your take on this?  Have you ever had someone simply cut and paste a work of your own into their blog and claim it as their own?  If so, what did you do?  Have you ever had someone paint an exact copy of a work you put on your blog without giving you any credit for the original or stating that their painting was an homage to your painting?  

Did you know you cannot copy any living artist's work?
Did you know you can copy the work of "the masters" because they have been dead for so long?  (My local art museum says you cannot photograph works of any living artist and any artwork that was made after 1978.)

Have you ever made a mistake (like when we all begin painting from books and DVDs and teachers, etc.) and not realized it?  What did you do to fix the problem?
Do you think teachers who put out DVDs and books should allow others to copy their work and sell it, if it's in the book?  Would you want to do that?


Anonymous said...
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RH Carpenter said...

Maggie, we all are influenced by others - paintings we see, drawings, photographs, even things on t.v. influence us. It is hard not to just grab someone's idea and run with it without giving credit; and newbies often just paint what they see so they use other's compositions/colors/etc. but a good teacher always tells a student about copyrights and how they effect artists. This was a big big deal in a large U.S. watercolor society show a couple of year's ago: the top prize and big money went to someone who copied 2 photographs from a website and then entered it and won!! Sorry to say, it wasn't even a painting but a print of the manipulated photos (which says something about the judges' ability to tell a print from a watercolor painting). She had to give the money back, there is no further sign of her on the internet so she's gone gone gone and her reputation is shot. I see the blogger in question with Jane's work was gone and now has returned with nothing showing but today's post. I don't know where her blog went but maybe someone got in there and removed the offending work? There are people who are dishonest and there always will be; then there are people who don't know better and need to be educated. I know what you mean about watercolor being technique driven - when you take a class or a workshop, they teach you techniques - then it's up to you to go off and explore and expand on those things and make them your own. I'm glad there aren't other bloggers doing lots of crows! ha ha (Thanks for the caw titles - I may do that later and came up with a new one today I may do next.)

Cindi said...

we had this discussion, just this morning, on painting friends... and we all felt there is a BIG line you shouldn't cross!! i think its fairly clear to most, in the art world, where that big line is!!. can an honest mistake happen?? yes! but the copyright law is very clear.

where i see a smaller line, and lots of confusion ..
we pay for books, dvds and workshops and learn some fun new ways of doing things.. and we go home and add some of those things in your repertoire.. what then..??? many generous and talented folks are proud to see an example of their work out others!!!sloppy dots and ted nuttal is an good example.. but there are a few, that think you are not able to show any of their style, you have learned at their classes, books,dvds. or they are after you in a heartbeat!!.. where is that line?? realize its not exactly the same as this .. but close and hopefully other will have thoughts on this!!??? thanks for bringing this up.. will be watching for thoughts from others...

debwardart said...

I've not put out anything for sale that wasn't mine, but have had a few of the works I've taught put up for sale. I've had someone argue with me that SHE could do anything she wanted with MY picture since she had paid for the class to paint it and therefore it was her copyright.
I've seen people who should know better directly copy out of a book or calendar and then sell the painting.
Some people will always blur the line between right and wrong.

There are a couple of paintings I teach my beginners, taken from a book, that serve to teach some basic techniques beautifully, so I use them. I explain to my students not to sell them or put them in shows (which always draws a laugh since they are beginners) but it opens up the copyright question early on.
As far as things on the internet - once we post something it's out there and nothing we can do about that. I've found my images on Google and, unless there is some fine print I missed, I never gave permission for that, but what is done is done.

Painting is all technique, don't care what anybody says! But that doesn't mean we have to create paintings that dead on copy an instructor's style, although that happens. We are all influenced by styles and techniques, but we can make them our own. We are also influenced by other paintings, photographs, drawings, etc. and will get similar ideas from these, but we should not copy and say it's our own.

Gaylynn said...

Rhonda,I am in total agreement with your blog and all the comments here today. I have begun this talk with my student. I gave her an assignment of creating a monochromatic painting. I told her to use a picture she found in a magazine because it was an EXERCISE, not a painting to be sold. I also told her that we would go into further detail about copyrights at our next class. So, I thank you Rhonda, and everyone commenting, you have just helped me teach my next lesson.

hw (hallie) farber said...

I've read a lot about this problem recently, and I followed the HOPE poster case--I had wondered how the artist got such a great photo of the candidate. (I was not aware that you could legitimately copy masters--don't you have to add "after master"?)

I don't think most beginning artists realize that the set-ups, lighting, ideas, etc. are the most difficult part of painting. Copying is not art--it may be acceptable as practice. Yet, I see lots of paintings of old movie stars for sale. They seem to have been copied from magazines--how did artists get permission?

I think some people will just do anything that suits their purpose.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks for the input on this topic, Deb, Cindi, Gaylynn and Hallie. Hallie, I don't know how you title a painting after a master painter - perhaps you have to state that it's a "copy of...." or "homage to..." I'm sure you have to title it as such unless it's obvious (like the Mona Lisa done so many different ways and styles). And is the copy of a master's painting to be sold - or just as an educational exercise? I may have to ask our local museum and get the low-down.

jane minter said...

....just wanted to thankyou for your moral support rhonda it's kind of you to have taken the time to highlight my recent post and put it in the wider context.

Tascarini said...

Most beginners or hobby painters don't know about copyright laws and who blog them are just excited to show what they have achieved. I don't care if they copy my stuff and don't list me. I actually am complimented by it. Many people in the senior center tear stuff out or get copies off the internet and have no idea who to give credit to.

However, I strongly agree that when a painting is for sale, that is very wrong. I (and other painters) have been asked by a gallery owner to do animal paintings for a local wildlife refuge show. She provided me with several photos of each animal - I don't have any idea who took the photos and she doesn't either. My solution was to compile the photos, change it to my own environment that I took photos of when I was in the preserve. I had no choice but to use her photos because I couldn't get photos of the requested animals.
So... how do you handle this situation? It is a fundraiser for the preservation of wildlife.

RH Carpenter said...

Jane, you are most welcome. I can see why others would envy your watercolor style, as I do, but I couldn't copy your work unless I practiced it every day for years!! This copyright issue comes up over and over so it's not bad to highlight it and make others think about what they are doing.

Tascarini, thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment! You are right, most beginners copy what they see and never think about copyright issues - unless a teacher or friend or other artist tells them. As for the paintings of animals from photos you didn't take and you have no idea who took them, I'd say your result is the best you can do = use them but modify them to fit those you did take and make major changes if you can't give the photographer credit (and, yes, this happens all the time - my husband is a photographer and people think a photo is free for everyone because they don't know the skill that is involved in taking a great photo). I have even heard of people painting from National Geographic magazines - and once it was discovered, their paintings were taken and destroyed (Too harsh? Maybe, but National Geo doesn't take lightly to copyright infringement. I've heard Disney takes the same position.)

Barb Sailor said...

Rhonda - it is so obviously the same painting - it would be impossible for even the original artist, Jane, to copy it this well a second time...the washes and areas of light are so spontaneous that no one could reproduce this. This woman is so "wrong" and to think that she had the nerve to act mistreated on her blog! Shameful!

RH Carpenter said...

Yes, Barb, it's obvious to most of us - just not to her! Strange days, indeed; but nothing new, I guess; it just arises in spurts once in a while. Considering why someone would do that: (1) the inability to paint the way they want to and inability to study and take the time to learn to get better? (2) quicker and easier to copy than to practice (3) not very morally minded about things.