Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You gotta fight for your Copyrights

Copyright free clipart

What is a copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of "original works of authorship," including "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works." The owner of copyright in a work has the exclusive right to make copies, to prepare derivative works, to sell or distribute copies, and to display the work publicly. Anyone else wishing to use the work in these ways must have the permission of the author or someone who has derived rights through the author.

What is a Trademark?
A "trademark" is a word, name or symbol which is used to identify particular products or services offer by a particular manufacturer or from a particular source. The trademark distinguishes and authenticates a product of a particular manufacturer from similar products offered by others. The owner of a Trademark has the right to prevent others from using the same or similar trademark on their products.

There's been a lot of talk going around recently amongst artists, arts & crafts teachers and craftspeople about their work being ripped off by big companies, people taking a class then turning around and teaching the same class to others or cheap copies made in China and sold at rock bottom prices. But it isn't just corporations ripping off the small business artist/crafter, sadly the average Joe is also doing it too, some intentionally and some not. I did a long blogpost on Trademarks when I was having some problems with mine a couple of years ago. This post is geared more toward copyright infringement since its a hot topic right now.

Copyrights don't have to be registered (although you can pay to register them) so most people don't. Fighting someone who is infringing on your rights does cost money and its better if you are backedup with a registration. A lot of people don't think they could fight without a registration, so they just let it go. A trademark costs a pretty penny, so you are more likely to fight for your rights once own it. I think you should fight for your copy rights as well, and perhaps we can stop this rampant flood of creative thievery.

I would like to think that most people just don't understand that some of the things they do aren't ok. Artists/Teachers/Crafters work hard to create their work. They spend a lot of time, energy, money, sweat and sometimes tears of it. They want people to be affected by it and be inspired to go do something creative. But, being creative doesn't mean copying someone's work and calling it your own.

I love to share my knowledge and skills with others. I love to inspire people to make something, but I want them to put their OWN mark on it not make it a carbon copy of my work.

Anytime you take someone else's creative or intellectual property, you're breaking copyright laws. You are also taking money out of the hands and mouth of that Artist/Teacher/Crafter. They deserve to make money for their job skills just as you do yours. And let's be real honest -doing that is stealing, and no one wants to be a thief.

If you'd like to learn more about what some other artists think, Margot aka The Impatient Crafter has a post up about her thoughts on it. She will also be doing a group link post this week with links to more artists & craftspeople. You can learn more about copyrights at the Artist Resource and tradmarks at US Patent and Trademark office.
So think about what you are doing before you download someone's artwork to use on a card, take a class so you can teach your friends what you've learned or buy something so you can copy it and sell it yourself. Would YOU want someone to do that to YOU? I know you'll do the right thing! If you see your designs being ripped off, stand up protect your artwork.


Margot Potter said...


Well said! Thanks for joining in educating people about intellectual property and artists' rights.


lisavollrath said...

Thanks for addressing this.

Another no-no: buying a copy of a collage sheet, and scanning it to print multiple copies. I actually had someone buy one of mine, scan it, make artwork from it, and mail it to me. I was heartbroken!

Every time someone does this, it takes money directly out of the pocket of another artist---and who could possibly be for that?

TesoriTrovati said...

I submit things to various publications all the time. I am often asked how I handle that since the publications require you to submit detailed instructions as well as full product lists. Usually my pieces have product that could not very easily be duplicated. But every so often there is a design that is more easy to recreate. I was actually stunned when I happened upon a blog of a person who works for said publication and saw my, wait...not my earrins, but a pretty good copy on her blog. I was relieved that she did mention me for the credit of the design, but in the post she was offering them for $10 and had sold multiple copies. I sold the originals for $35, and I do not duplicate exactly any design again. It still stings a bit that this was a person who worked on the very magazine I submitted to, and I suppose she was giving me credit, but I felt a bit cheated. So I am careful about the designs I do send. But it also makes me not want to provide extremely detailed instructions.
Thank you Barbe for such an informative look into copyright. I am avidly following the discussion.
Enjoy the day!

Barbe Saint John/ Saints and Sinners® said...

Thanks for the replies, Ladies.

Margot-no prob! Everyone should be aware so that no one will feel bad.

Lisa-oh yes, thats another big one, thats a big NO NO.

Erin-OUCH! I am starting to submit to more magazines and think about the same thing.