What is Copyright and What Does it Mean to Artists?
Copyright law means every image belongs to its creator and the creator has the ultimate say on how their art is used. These laws are designed to protect the artists so their images are not used in ways they didn't intend. If you are an art lover, you probably like to surround yourself with the art you love, but it's important to do this in a way that is respectful to the artist.
Using artwork without permission is illegal, but most artists will not mind if you use their art for specific personal uses. Each artist has different preferences for how their art is used and will outline what uses are approved on their web site. Many artists also have different rules for tags, sigs and PSP images. Please remember they are not being mean by not letting you use art, but kindly allowing an exception to the law for their fans.
Makes sure it's ok by following these simple steps:
- Check the artist's website F.A.Q first. They should have image use guidelines listed.
- It doesn't hurt to ask if you're not sure it's ok
- Always include their name and link back to the artist when using art online.
- Never use art for commercial uses without permission!
Images posted on sites like photobucket or photo sharing sites are often missing their copyright information. Even though someone may have uploaded them innocently, it is not a good idea to repost the unidentified artwork elsewhere, because every time there is uncredited art it creates problems for the artist.
You can read more about copyright here:
Tips for Art Buyers
Many artists have contracts with companies allowing the companies to make products for them, but unfortunately dishonest people who make products without the artist's permission exist. To avoid stolen art products, or "bootlegs" it's always best to purchase directly from the artist. You will be assured you get a quality product that the artist approves of and the best service possible.
It's fairly easy to make sure you are looking at a legitimate licensed product rather than a bootleg: Any company who has licensed the art legally is going to name the artist and give the title of the picture. They are proud of their artists because without them they have no products. Retailers who buy from a manufacturer to sell usually list the manufacturer and artist of the product. Most artists will also have any companies they work with linked somewhere on their own site or show pictures of the products.
Possible signs they shouldn’t be using the art:
• They don’t list the artist’s name and come up with a generic title like "Pretty Fairy".
• They don’t have an actual photo of the product, just a picture photoshopped onto it.
• They are using a popular illustrator’s image from greeting cards, books, t-shirts or anything else you’ve seen in a retail store on a handmade product.
• They offer to make the product from any picture you send to them.
• They are selling an oil painting of a popular image multiple times or of an image that was originally created digitally.
Most common products using stolen art are:
• Cross stitch patterns
• Italian charms
• Address labels
• Iron ons
• Light stitch covers or switch-plates
• Cigarette cases
• Pendants and cameos
• clip art image cds
• Wall clocks
• Oil painting reproductions
What you can do about it:
Only buy from legitimate licensors. Don’t buy a product if it looks suspicious. Don’t try to argue with the seller yourself. Notify the artist about it and ask whether it's approved by them. If not, the artist will be able to report it to the correct people and will be grateful you alerted them.
Copyright Article Written by Meredith Dillman and edited by Selina Fenech