A Bit of Education on Artist’s Copyrights!
If I need an image I go to Google Images, right click > Save as, we all do it!
Often I save an image for my ‘inspiration’ folder or because I will use it as a reference for drawing specific items; and that is just fine because the use of the image stays within my home and I do not use it for any commercial purposes.
What is not fine is when we copy images from the net and use them on public platforms such as websites, social media, newsletters, flyers etc…especially if we don’t take the time to ask permission or credit the artist.
As an artist, I receive weekly requests for permission to use my images. I always take the time to thank them for contacting me and for considering my work to accompany theirs. In exchange, depending on each specific project, I only ask for a small fee (usually on a donation basis) or that they credit my name under the image with a link to my website. I am glad because most of the people who contact me usually already offer to do that. Fortunately, there are also people that offer to pay for the use of image. If everyone that used an artist’s image sent them even only $10-25 (which clearly everybody could afford) we wouldn’t have to work nearly as hard to make a living from our art! If you use an artist’s image to advertise an activity that you will be making money from then you should absolutely consider offering a remuneration.
Anyways, whatever you decide, here is the proper way to do it:
This is the way to do business with integrity and consideration. The person enhances their work with unique, creative, visuals (my art!) and in return I get a bit of exposure. It’s a sweet exchange of service.
The first time I found my art being used without mentioning my name I was furious and felt robbed and violated. The sad truth is that it happens so often that for my own sake I soon realized that getting angry was only going to hurt me. So I quickly learned to relax about it. Young artists fear putting their work online because of this. I explain to them how the benefits of sharing our artwork with the world outweigh by far this copyright problem.
I generally reach out to the people that I find using my art without crediting it. In doing this I learned that nobody has bad intentions. Most of the time I receive an apologetic note back and they promptly add my name and website by the image. I realise that they simply do it by lack of education.
We artists have to take the time to educate and inform that we make a living from our creative abilities and efforts. People forget that everything on the internet is not free to use just because it was uploaded on the web.
If you use an artist’s image:
- Take the time to research who the artist is. You can use https://images.google.com to identify images that you upload.
- If you cannot find the artist’s name write: “Artist unknown – If you recognize the art please contact us so that we can credit the artist”. It shows that you care enough to acknowledge the creator of the art.
- If you know the artist’s names: Credit them in a caption under the artwork and add an active link to their website. Even better send them an email to request permission to use their artwork. Even way better, offer to pay then a fee to use the image.
- If you use an artist’s image to advertise an activity that you will be making money from (a workshop, online course, or any other paying services) then I feel you should definitely offer a payment to the artist. I do this on the base of donation, I trust each person’s integrity to judge and calculate the monetary benefits they will gain from using one my images to promote their work.
If you are an artist and someone uses your image with no credit:
- Don’t panic, don’t get angry.
- This person just needs to be educated.
- Send them a kind email asking to credit the art
- Watermark your images (not across the artwork, just at the bottom is sufficient, most people won’t bother removing your name or cropping it). Only put images online that are 75dpi and 800pixels wide.
- I suggest keeping a list of the websites that use your images. Record their location. You never know; one day you might be exhibiting in their area and they most likely will be happy to share the announcement of your show.
- If you allow someone to use a HD image of your work, make sure you write a clear contract with a time limit (I do 10 years so that I have an exit plan if I want to retrieve the exclusivity of my copyrights). If you give the rights over an HD image away you should really have an exchange of money.
- Have you registered your art under the US Copyright? This is a must to ultimately protect yourself.
I thank everyone that is already crediting images and that didn’t need to read this article! Many artists also create custom images for businesses and websites; you may want to contact them to do that. For more info on how I work with commission work click here. Stay connected, if you like my art, sign up on my newsletter which I only send out a few times a year (3 or 4 times max). You might see a newly created piece of artwork that will fit your next article…now, you know what to do right?!
Note: The painting I used as an example above is a new painting. It is available in cards and various size prints here