Yesterday I was sitting in my Open Studio exhibition at Dorset Art Weeks just taking stock when a couple walked in to look at my work, clutching a photograph of a prize winning quilt that was based on the painting above! How flattering - you might think and perhaps briefly I did. However a small matter of copyright exists on original artwork and at the very least before you use someone else’s idea even in another medium, you must apply to the artist for permission to use it, which may or may not be granted or for which you may be required to pay a fee.
I think what hit me first when I had digested this information was the fact that the quilt maker had won a prize with it in a big exhibition – a prize for something that had hi-jacked my imagination. Had this person bothered to contact me I might well have given permission provided that the piece was exhibited with full credit to me as originator of the image together with a reference to my web site for further information, but no such approach was ever made.
Obviously with the advent of images on the world wide web, it is more than likely that images will be copied, even if, as I do, you have a copyright notice on each and every page of your site (and blog!). In the Far East there are factories that specialise in copying work and closer to home too, so I suspect that It must be happening to a lot of artists. But those that copy an image should beware, copyright laws exist for the protection of the artist and can be enforced, and as can be seen from my story, you never know when someone will put two and two together when they see a piece of work and tip off the originator of the piece.
If you live in the UK, both Artists Newsletter and DACS (the Design and Artists' Copyright Society) have information on Copyright and in the US I understand a ‘Cease and Desist’ notice can be very effective - if you are reading this in other countries please do leave your contribution to this blog. There have also been a number of interesting discussions on this subject on Linkedin.