Sunday, April 18, 2010

Copyright Issues for Artists

Like most artists, images of my work are on the internet and several art sites along with a copyright warning. Every now and then I check out how many viewers have visited the site using a program called Statcounter.  It's fun to see that visitors come from all over the world and it reminds me of just how amazing the internet is. Of course there is a downside to this too.  A few years back there was a very interesting post by Robert Genn on his site "The Painters Keys".  Someone told him about a web site in China where they were making copies of work by well know Canadian and American artists and selling them cheaply over the internet.  He went to the site and sure enough, his work was there for sale. A similar thing has occured at art festivals and exhibitions where people go around taking photos of artwork to reproduce. Any artist who puts work on the web faces the same issue.  Using small file sizes means that the work won't reproduce very well but if you want the artwork to look good the file has to be a decent size  The music industry has also been hit hard because so many people make copies for friends or download from sites where the music has been posted.  Very few CD's are now sold and musicians are finding it increasingly hard to make a living.
So back to Statcounter. As I look through the visitor stats on my web site I see the images that have been viewed and also which ones have been downloaded.  This week it was someone from Southend on Sea in the UK who was busy downloading a whole bunch of my musical images including the painting of violins called "Noteworthy" posted here.  Was it another artist who wants to do something similar or someone who just likes the work and wants a copy, and does it matter?  What do you think?


-Don said...

I hope they just wanted to have your beautiful works to look at and enjoy or as reference. Thanks for this insightful post. You're right, its hard for artists in any genre to totally protect themselves with all the technology at thieves disposal.


Nancy Goldman said...

I think it's better not to know but then I am one of those people who tend toward the 'head in the sand' way of dealing with problems. I hate to think of people stealing an artist's images and selling them but by the same token, I'm not sure that anything can be done about it. I guess we just have to be flattered that someone liked our work enough to steal it until there is a solution to the problem.

Eva said...

I've dealt with rip off artists every since I've been a professional artist One time I Googled my name and found a site with artists that used my abstract prints, enhanced them with other elements, like birds and trees and then used my name to sell them!!!
I'm working on my new web site and someone told about this company, that is suppose to register your work to help in case you want to sue. However, I don't know any thing about it. Have you heard of it?
The bottom line is, it's the price of doing business with images the public likes. My website is important. I just sold a very large painting because of it.

Kay said...

This always concerns me when I put images on the web, but I am like you, I really don't know what to do about it and I don't make my images smaller, so I guess that is just the price we pay for posting our images for others to see and enjoy.

ldeandyment said...

Great post Susanne. I've heard of artists all over having problems with this. I use statcounter too but I don't really look at it closely enough to see if any images are being down loaded. Perhaps I should. I've also been thinking of using a watermark but I hate the look of it.

Kathleen Krucoff said...

Hi Sue,

This is a tough topic and try as we do, it is really difficult to protect our work from copying. The only comfort I can find comes from the words of my friend and mentor Lexi....they can copy our work but they lack the creative ability to generate new and innovative works.

Last week another blog started a similar discussion which I found informative and thought I would relates to jewelry: The basic underlying principles are the same.

I have heard of that Eva mentioned. I believe it came about as a result of an artist being sued by someone who copied his fire stand sculptures. The copy cat was suing the original artist challenging his right to copyright his own work!!! How is that for outrageous?

You are one of those artists that is innovative and develops new work all the time. I hope no one is copying you but if they are they are limited by what they copy.

Thanks for the info on Art Fair Insiders too! I appreciate it.

Susanne said...

Interesting comments everyone. Thank you. A couple of other things came to mind. I have had quite a few students doing art projects at school contact me. They have to chose an artist whose work they like and then write and do some artwork in a similar style. One girl in the UK even sent me a photograph of a portion of my Jazzy Cello painting that she had done in watercolour. So it could be that this is the reason for some of the downloads. I noticed that another series of images had been downloaded in the UK yesterday. A while back I had one person from Italy who spent lots of time looking at my musical paintings everyday for about a month or more and I felt quite dissapointed when they stopped. Anyway there is nothing we can do about it if we want a web presence.

Gail M. Allen Artist said...

Hi Susanne,
I have had a number of my pieces downloaded to an address in China and one of my pieces has been downloaded many, many times to various sites. I decided that for me, it is best to take it as a compliment and be thankful that my work is getting out into the world as I hoped it would. Kathleen's comment about others "lacking the creative ability to generate new and innovative works" basically sums up my feelings. If my work can inspire someone as others inspired me, in the past, to find their voice then I am honored.....not making a living easily, because of pirating, but honored none the less.I hold the hope that those who are able will choose to be honorable and purchase my work.

Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter said...

Great discussion. I've never checked to see if any of my iomages have been downloaded or if they are on some unauthorized website. There's so much else to do, I've decided this is one battle not worth fighting since it doesn't seem winnable anyway without a lot of effort. If someone wants to steal my images, God bless 'em... they'll eventually get theirs.

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