Paintings With Soul

Since October 2006 I've been a daily painter, creating a new pet portrait at least 5 times per week. Over the years I've expanded my offerings to include a variety of animals, pets, race horses, children and other treasured heirlooms. In addition, I accept a limited number of commissions each year.

In 2015 I am honored to be the Kentucky Derby Artist.

You may use the links below right to receive my daily paintings via email or to follow my blog with a feed. I post additional info, including in-process jpgs and other related information, on the studio Facebook page as well.

Meanwhile, thanks
so much for your continued support of my artwork.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Flushing Copyright Thieves

Clinker was one of the 20 illegally copied images of my paintings I discovered on ebay yesterday, thanks to a heads up from a colleague and friend who found the same "Artist" copying her work and that of other daily painters. Ebay has been notified and is taking appropriate action. I suspect Karma will be making a house call shortly as well.

In the light of yesterday's situation, I got many emails and messages asking how one learns of copyright violations. Here are a couple suggestions:

  • Become a watchdog on the sites you frequent. Don't hesitate to let the originating artist know if you see a copy of their work elsewhere - send them the webaddress and suspected infringer's name. If you come across copies in person, collect the infringer's name and contact information along with the painting's title and pass that along to the originating artist.
  • Set up google alerts for keywords pertaining to your own work, like your name, your studio name, and other relevant phrases.
  • If you suspect or have heard of an image's misappropriation, use google image search and find out for yourself.

As far as protecting your work, copyright is an automatic deferral the moment you create something. One does not have to file for copyright with the government in order to claim it (although filing/registering does help in cases that go to court).

  • Assert your copyright ownership by placing a watermark on every image you share online. Include your name in the watermark so that wherever the image travels, it has your identity attached.
  • Only post low resolution images (I prefer 4" wide at 100dpi for finished works). Consult your photo editing software for how to resize images.
  • Only post images to sites you trust (take time to read Terms of Service agreements - some sites reserve the right to repurpose or sell your imagery).

If you discover your copyright has been violated:

  • Take screen shots of everything you discover online prior to filing any reports or contacting any individuals. Please note that a screen shot is different than merely noting the web address.
  • Retain all documentation pertaining to any discussions you have had about the suspected thief.
  • Report violaters to the appropriate host (Facebook, eBay, Etsy, and other sites have published processes and specific forms for reporting intellectual property theft).
  • If the artwork is on a private website, find out who hosts the site - then follow their instructions for reporting the theft (websites will be taken down by hosts for copyright infringements).
  • Be prepared to show your original artwork, the date it was completed, and any reference or process information as proof of ownership.
  • It is sometimes helpful to do a side-by-side comparison of the original with the suspected theft as part of your documentation submitted to the appropriate authorities.
  • Copycat "Artists" don't always limit themselves to stealing just one artists work - review their portfolio to see if you recognize or can identify other copies.

If you are comfortable contacting the artist directly, do so gently, asking them to supply their references, concept or preliminary work. It sometimes happens that artists working in different methods come up with the same idea/concept. But even when this happens, the works fit within the context of other pieces, so there is extenuating evidence to support the dovetailing. Remember if you do contact the artist, retain all correspondence.

Keep everything in writing, as tempted as you might be to telephone the purported thief. Heated emotions can get out of hand easily - you are feeling violated and the other party may be defensive or accusatory in response.

Always keep a clear head. You are the victim, but do not allow yourself to make choices in the heat of the moment that will reflect poorly on your character later. 

If you have other suggestions for any of the above points, please let me know!

Copyright violation is stealing. It is akin to having your car or home broken into, your purse stolen, private property vandalized or taken. It is a real crime, and sadly, becoming an all too common one. I hope you never have to deal with this.

I am moving to the easel today with the reassuring thought that I can create, and feeling badly for those with so little faith in their own talent that they resort to stealing,

PS If you are an artist struggling with copyright issues, feel free to share an earlier blog post I wrote, An Open Letter to Copyright Thieves. You are also welcome to share this post.

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