Saturday 5 June 2010

Grrrr ! Someone Copied One of My Paintings Without Permission !

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.


  1. May I post this on my site? ( with Credit)
    I have a blog at and I would like to share this information.

    P.S. Beautiful work...

  2. Hi Annie,

    First I can totally agree with you on your distress that someone had copied your design. How annoying. I can truly sympathize with your anger since I've had it happen to me also.

    I do have a couple of questions though--how do you know that they copied your design--they may well have--but quilting can be such a different medium from painting and the design concept of trees and fields is something that many people including myself have been working on independently. (Don't worry my work is very different from yours but I am fascinated by the concept of fields stretching to the horizon delineated by trees or barns.)

  3. Hello Annie...

    Such experiences are rather unfortunate. People grossly devalue an original by disregarding its ownership rights.

    I have written a similar article on my art-blog a week back. Thanks for sharing your resources. I'm an Indian sculptor... and I'm afraid that our laws back here do not protect a visual artwork as stringently as they secure literary works.

    I like your blog too. Nice thoughts, and a well-spaced layout... soothing to the eye, pleasant to the mind. Keep it going!

    ~ Hemant Sonawane
    professional Sculptor & Fine Artist
    Mumbai, INDIA

  4. Hello Annie,

    I found you through your linkedin posting and wanted to say I am so sorry this has happened to you. It irritates me to no end to think there are people who pass themselves off as creative and are actually using the creativity of others. As you have heard from others it seems to happen a lot, however that doesn't make it right. When a blog post was lifted from me a while back, I promptly wrote an email to the offender who removed the offense from her site. I then watermarked everything, although in your case a watermark would not have made any difference. Sad, so sad! If I were you, I would write a letter/email to the award giver as well as the quilter making it clear you are aware of what has gone on and will also make their names known via your own networking capabilities if amends are not made on this issue. It is wrong and you need to stand up for yourself and other honest artists. You don't want a reputation for letting this slip aside.

    Very best of luck, and I will be eager to hear about the outcome. Your work is exceptional - stand up for it!

  5. sorry for what happened,
    art is magical,
    when you post online,
    people can easily steal, hope that you keep your fun arts in private... share some general stuff....
    Happy Tuesday!

  6. I found your blog here after reading posts on a discussion in the blogger's group on LinkedIn. I'm impressed by your work and like it very much.

    As for image theft, I've had it happen many times, usually discovering it quite unexpectedly in google searches. Sometimes the use has been so blatant, as when an artist painted from a photo belonging to me, but the composition, color, crop, style: everything! looked exactly like the original. It always leaves me with a really bad feeling and I'm glad I post only small images on the web. So that and the fact that my name is on them, offers SOME protection from the images being printed, at least.

    Why is it that some people seem to have no conscience about such things? It's especially inexcusable when they themselves do creative endeavors for which they seek validation or remuneration, yet they willingly plunder the images of others!