Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Copyright... Copy.... Right?
Recently you may have noticed that I'm not listing as often on eBay. I shut down my eBay store and haven't had an auction in weeks. If you are an artist, self representing or if you sell original art work period you probably have a good idea why I'm looking into other venues. The big bay is becoming (or simply is) a haven for thieves.
I belong to a terrific group called Worldwide Women Artists and frequently I check my email only to find yet another friend has been the victim of theft. Copyright violations are commonplace and eBay's policy of simply deleting the auction while allowing the more profitable thieves to continue selling, only allows the practice to flourish. While the true creator of the work must jump through hoops the thief is easily posting stolen pieces from new victims.
This weekend on WetCanvas someone asked a valid question about copying images from books or magazines or photos for their own learning experience. If the items are not ever to be sold or used as examples in your portfolio then go for it. Then the conversation began to receive comments from folks who feel that if an artist post's an image online it becomes fair game to be copied for profit... and from those who feel that a copied image isn't stolen because the copier makes their own brush strokes & uses their own paint... Neither of these are true. Permission from the original artist is always required. The problem is when beginners come and ask honest questions and receive bad information in response - perhaps from someone who received the same bad info when they started out. From there they are opening themselves up to legal recourse. It doesn't matter how much copying the artist feels is alright, what matters is the legal reality.
Now back to eBay. It has its cumbersome VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) program which is suppose to protect artists who are victims of theft... but when it comes right down to it an artist must rely on their friends to watch out for identifiable copyright violations and their lawyer to go after the thief. Often artists who haven't used eBay as a sales venue have been the victim of theft and fraud on the auction site. Anna Conti offers her own continuing experience and a warning to other artists in her article "eBay Art Fraud: Copyright Violations, Plagiarism, Forgery"
Protect yourself. Learn about copyright law here Consider online artists groups... Develop a circle of friends who can watch your back & return the favor when you can. Spread the word that though imitation may be flattery, selling copied artwork is a crime. - Joyce Brandon


Blogger jafabrit said...

great post. I spent several months reading posts in wc regarding ebay as I was thinking about it. Considering the blantant copyright theft and ebay's handling of it I decided NO WAY. I have grown more amazed at how blatant these theives are. Did you read about the deviant art thief even stealing the artists name?

In response to some people thinking that since you put the image out there is it fair game to be copied. What a rationalization! sheesh!

June 01, 2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Thanks for the comprehensive entry on copyright infringement. I have been following the CR threads on WC too. I closed my eBay store about a month ago, not because someone was stealing my work, but, rather because I don't know if it's a good venue for art. I'm still searching....

June 01, 2006 9:57 AM  
Blogger LynClay said...

The thieves and scammers are getting out of hand through the internet. I put my images of my paintings on the internet to share them, not have some thief copy it. I haven't had it happen yet but I'd probably be shocked and maybe a little flattered at first then I'd be ready to choke them. It must be a horrible feeling!

June 01, 2006 8:19 PM  

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