Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The ultimate compliment or copyright infringement?

I am SO behind the times. Just when I thought I’d seen everything, someone surprises me, and it’s taken three days to figure out what I think about it all. 

First, some backstory:
In my blog a few weeks ago, I wrote about my newest greyhound painting for Greyhound Pets, Inc. At the bottom, I included my little copyright notice, because I always do. This particular image was painted from a black and white drawing I did in 1993, which has shown up (or should I say, been ripped off) in many places over the years. When I posted this painting on my website, I added an additional, slighty grouchy, notice about how people are NOT allowed to use it without the permission of the artist (me, Terry Albert). I also made the copyright mark on the picture much bigger than usual.

These particular pieces of art, both the black and white and color version, are a little tricky, because traditionally the artist retains copyright on any artwork he or she produces. I donated the black and white drawing to Greyhound Pets, and they gradually began using it for their logo, which was fine with me. They have purchased the color painting, and plan to use it for their logo, on notecards, business cards, and other fundraising items, as well as selling limited edition prints. Although I technically still own the copyright, I have given them permission to use the art for their group in any way they see fit.

This does NOT mean that Joe Schmo can reproduce it on tiles and sell them on ebay. The guy that did that actually left my signature on it! Or Italian charms, embroidery patterns for a shirt company, and several other examples that come to mind where “my” art was used without compensation or permission from me OR Greyhound Pets.

The surprise
I am laughing now, but at first I was a little grumpy when I received the picture of the greyhounds on a tattoo as you see in this photo. Greyhound Pets gave this guy permission, so I’m not really upset, and the owner of this lovely arm is a big supporter and has adopted three dogs from them. I like him better all the time (I’m assuming it is a “him”).

But it does point out how easily we can lose the rights to our own creative work, especially when it gets splashed all over the Internet. I haven’t made a dime off of that first drawing, but some other people have made money, and that is not fair, or legal.

So listen up everybody. Don’t copy an artist’s work without permission! This includes adapting it to other mediums, like embroidered shirts. Greyhound Pets, Inc., and ONLY Greyhound Pets, Inc., has permission to use this art! And I’m going to start including specific copyright information with the art I create in the future.

I hope our tattooed friend made a nice donation :)

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.