Monday 11 July 2011

Copyright Issues

"Simply Amazing"
The cover and cover painting from my DVD " Amazing ways with watercolour"

Sadly this week the issue of copyright has arisen yet again. Every artist I know dreads this topic coming up. Firstly we all love painting, for those of us who teach and share our techniques we want everyone else to love painting too. To copy an original painting as a method of learning is a way of evolving and growing as an artist. A road to discovery many of us have taken and one that has been well known and used successfully for centuries.We are inspired by those who paint in a way we would wish to.

But  there is a line between copying to learn and copying to sell. When anyone copies another artists work and then decides to sell it as their own they are without question  abusing the original artists copyright. 

I have come across this issue before and always wish to run away from it rather than face the situation. I know from personal experience that speaking up  to someone who has blatantly copied your work can lead to  unpleasant communication. I  have come to terms with the fact it is far easier to turn a blind eye and ignore what has happened. And so like many artists when I see an obvious copy of my work I ignore it. But is this helping the art world? There  is a possibility that if we all turn a blind eye the copying situation will become far worse.

You may ask "Who cares?" " If someone is making  a little money from copying you is it really a big deal?"  Shouldn't we all just say "Thats fine, copy my work and pretend it's your own, I don't mind" ?

I don't think so because we are then not teaching right from wrong.

To sell as an artist you need your own work, your own ideas and your own creations.

If an artist is learning from my style I am thrilled, if they mention I have inspired them I am very touched for their kind gesture. If I see someone blatantly trying to sell a copy of my work I walk away. Or I used to until I listened to several professional and non professional artists this week who have felt concerned and upset over the increasing problem. 

Firstly,an instructional DVD or book is just that. Instructional.

 There should be no need to remind everyone that a teaching aid is purely for learning from. So when several artists told me this week that paintings from both my web site and DVD are being sold online by an artist as their own I was lost on how to react. Speak up or stay quiet? I chose to stay quiet but by doing so I am aiding those who upset others by copying.

 Everyone should know by now that original paintings online,on web sites, in books and on DVDs  should not be copied and sold by other artists. If we all united and spoke up via the internet we may once and for all put an end to this discussion. We have the voice and right to say no. Enough is enough. If we all openly reacted copying artists may think twice about selling another artists work.

Now you may ask, will I be sharing the recent copies of my work here on my blog? Or share a link to the copying artists site?  I ask myself if that would be unfair to the copying artist.

I think I will give them more respect than they have shown me.

For now!


I will be posting more on this subject in the near future.


Julia Ruffles | wildlife artist said...

Wonderfully said Jean! My gut would wrench if this happened to me knowing the heart and soul I put into all my art pieces, the time and dedication. I wish I could show those that appreciate my art without a watermark and at its original size however this issue would sadly arise. I would think that all your increasing fans could spot a 'Jean Haines' original a mile away! I'd like to think I could!:) Jules

Helen said...

Well said Jean!

Carrie Waller Watercolors said...

It always amazes me when I hear about these issues. I was shocked this year when I attended an exhibit I was in, I saw a friends painting. But when I got closer I noticed it wasn't her name signed to the painting. I took a photo and sent it to her, and it was an exact replica of one of her paintings. Not only did this "artist" have the nerve to enter it into the competition it also sold. Unbelievable!!

Dee Doyle said...

All of what you have said is indeed well said ... I am both an instructor and a perennial student, and I sometimes tread the fine line between "inspiration," and copying. I may use a method or a style that I have learned with my own reference or source, and I encourage my students to do the same ... to have their own reference and apply the techniques and process being taught.

I am so inspired by your work and by the work of SO many artists world-wide, and historically as well as contemporarily.

But, I have had students copy and sell "my" work, which makes me twitch, and I straddle the line with them, between pride that they "got" the lesson, and my reaction to the utter gall that they sell that work as original.

One of the beauties of being able to access so much art on the internet is that it is so inspirational, and it is so easy to see how artists have worked out a problem that relates to one's own work. I enjoy that about these blogs and the "web" we weave with the exchange of what works and what doesn't.

I also believe that because there is so much cross-pollenation of shared information, ideas, etc., that, in some cases, a group of work can appear to be simlar. Isn't it true, there are few "original" ideas?

But, I SO believe it is a blatant abuse to COPY a work and sell it online [or anywhere] as "original" by the artist, how dare they? And, yes, as a community, I feel we should "call" them on the ethical violation.

I feel that I have learned SO much from all of the artists online, as well as from the national instructors from whom I have taken workshops, classes, etc., but what I am now seasoned enough to see, is that my OWN style is evolving from all that education.

I am humbled by the fact that folks are starting to recognize me [in a relatively limited sense] as an artist who does some relatively good work occasionally, but I would not be able to hold my head up by hanging and selling something [particularly on the net] I have copied. Why do that? Why be second rate to someone else's first rate? The painting would always be known as a copy of the other, not an original of the "eveolving" artist.

Sorry to go on, but I guess your issue hit a hot button!

Jean Haines SWA, SFP said...

Thank you so much Jules. sadly this is an age old problem, and not all artists act respectfully when approached or discovered to have in fact abused the copyright laws.Being open and honest is always a good way to behave.
I intend to always tread that path and hope the majority of artists will do the same:)

Jean Haines SWA, SFP said...

Thank you so much Helen, it is never easy to discuss this issue but at times it needs to be faced. Many will copy and not care about the original artist but there are those who make genuine mistakes. Those I do have time for and understanding:)

Jean Haines SWA, SFP said...

That's terrible Carrie. I have seen work that is obviously copied, without a hint of credit being given to the original artist. What those who copy don't realise is that they are often seen and in a bad light. Their reputation ruined as their credability can be lost forever. It is very sad and not worth the effort of copying in the first place!

Jean Haines SWA, SFP said...

Hello Dee

From the minute I posted this blog entry I have recieved many emails thanking me for bringing the subject up.I have had others letting me know they are,like me aware of another copying artist who knows she has a piece online for sale that having watched me paint it still insists is an original of their own! It is amazing how some people will happily lie rather than act respectfully. But isn't this the world we live in? We have to take the good with the bad. Thankfully most artists are honest and appreciative of art that is shared for all to enjoy.The minority spoil the art world but I do believe they are in the minority,know who they are and have no shame. The rest of us can enjoy creating,living with a clear conscience and giving. Furthermore the feelings of heady excitement, positive energy and that "high" we gain from working as individuals will never be felt by those who can only depend on copying others talent to succeed themselves,and that is a fact. They are the ones who lose on so much in the end:)I think this subject is a " hot button" for many!!! Me included! Thank you so much for your reply here, it meant a lot to read it:) .