1. Lady Luck – EBSQ has an abundance of visual artists but did you know we also have some amazing glass artists? I love these original earrings by Vickie Miller.
2. Strathmore 2013 Workshops – Strathmore has opened registration for their 2013 workshops. This year’s classes are: Abstract Fine Art Painting with Mixed Media, Sketching & Drawing with Toned Paper, and Artful Card-Making Techniques.
3. Copy Rights – What is fair use? Where do you draw the line? This is an interesting article from March of this year from Art News magazine.
Rules change all the time, like whether newborns should sleep on their sides or stomachs. The same seems to be true of artists using watermarks. Everyone has an opinion and ultimately every artist does what they feel is right for their art on the web. I thought it would be interesting to see where our readers stand on the topic and to explore some updated ideas on the issues. Once upon a time, watermarks were for protecting your art from theft. But not anymore. Take the poll and then I’ll explain.
What follows is my personal opinion. It should not be taken as fact. We all ultimately do what we feel comfortable with when it comes to sharing our art across the web.
We’ve all heard the two sides to this argument:
1. Watermarks protect your art from theft.
2. Watermarks are ugly and put off buyers.
One of these statements is myth. Can you guess which one?
Watermarks DO NOT protect your art from theft. However, they don’t necessarily put off buyers and they don’t have to be ugly. So what is the purpose of a watermark in the 21st century?
It’s like the telephone game, where you stand in a line and pass a message on to the person next you. By the time the message reaches the end of the line it’s usually a far cry from the original. Imagine a similar situation with an artwork that’s been repinned thirty times on Pinterest. Maybe you were the original source of the pin and you put in the description your copyright info. But the next ten people who repinned your artwork changed the description to, Beautiful! or Stunning! Then it’s repinned from those people another ten times. By the time the 50th person see it they may have no idea where the image came from or knowledge of its creator. But. If you’ve put a small watermark with your info, like my painting shown to the left, wherever you art ends up a viewer will know you as the creator.
I’ve placed the copyright info on my painting The Moon off to the side, that way it doesn’t detract from the artwork but still gives me clear credit and a name for viewers to Google.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments if you use a watermark on your art or if you don’t! We want to hear your thoughts.
In the dozen years I’ve been dealing with the online art market, forgery has always been an issue. Sites like eBay have long been flooded with sweatshop copies of old masters. In fact, that is part and parcel why EBSQ was founded: it gave original artists, via the EBSQ keyword, a way to be easily found amid thousands upon thousands of copies.
With the advent of widespread and affordable giclee printing, forgery has become an even bigger issue. It’s no longer just the old masters being copied, but emerging and mid-career artists as well. Now, some copies are hand-painted by other artists as their own compositions. Beginning artists often don’t understand that this is both unethical and illegal since there is a long tradition of learning to draw and paint by copying other drawings and paintings. In these cases, these aren’t technically forgeries, but rather copyright infringement. And in many cases, this is “fairly” easy to deal with a simple C & D. What is much harder to nip in the bud are the systematic mass-produced forgeries done by people pretending to be the original artist (or a gallery), who are simply printing out (and possibly hand-touching up) copies.
Case in point is the work of EBSQ Artist Alma Lee. For almost a year, she has been fighting an eBay Powerseller who has been selling hundreds of copies of her work. Alma took all of the proper steps. She contacted eBay multiple times. She filed all the forms. Copyright infringement notices were filed by her and multiple parties, all reporting the forged auctions. Phone calls were made. Even the buyers of her originals got involved, speaking up on her behalf. And eBay did…nothing. Apparently, Alma doesn’t bring in enough money to warrant losing a Powerseller over. So, the fraud continues with eBay’s apparent blessing.
So. Let’s assume you want to buy original art on eBay direct from the original artist. How then, do you know that what you’re getting is the Real McCoy and not one of these fakes, particularly BEFORE you are parted from your money? Alma put together a blog post listing the Top 10 Ways to Spot a Forgery.
Take a look at her list. Did she get it right? What else (if anything) would you add?
An editorial note: none of these pieces were created to address today’s #StopSOPA protests. Nor did EBSQ have any obvious gallery pieces that addressed censorship in general (that wasn’t of the girly-bits variety, which would have diluted the message too much)
EBSQ did NOT “black out” today out of respect for our paying customers who depend upon our services. But I think as artists, this is a conversation we should probably be having. I personally (and professionally) oppose SOPA/PIPA. From what I’ve read and researched it goes too far in limiting our freedoms and doesn’t effectively address the issue of piracy, which many of our members have unfortunately experienced firsthand. So I bring it to you: Where does copyright protection end and censorship begin?
As an admitted geek, I admire the basic concepts behind Polyvore.com, as stated on their “About” page:
Polyvore is a free, easy-to-use web-based application for mixing and matching images from anywhere on the web. It is also a vibrant community of creative and stylish people.
Polyvore lets you create sets composed of individual images using an easy to use, drag and drop editor. After you have created a set, you can publish and share it with your friends and the Polyvore community.
But my admiration ends where the copyright issues begin.
Polyvore: ingenius or infringement?
It was brought to my attention by long-time EBSQer Aja that Polyvore was allowing its members to steal and essentially “mutlilate” images from a number of sites without permission via its proprietary “clipping” tool. Apparently this was a huge issue with Etsy last year, and it’s become so again. They’ve also been stealing images from Flickr, and we’re not talking about Creative Commons images but ones that are explicitly marked all rights reserved. A quick search revealed they were doing the same with images from EBSQart, RedBubble, Imagekind, CafePress, DeviantArt, and individual artist’s blogs and personal websites. We’re certain there are other art and photography sources we’ve missed. Sometimes the images were used with some nod of attribution. We found many cases where they were not. Also, we discovered that in many cases, the artists’ watermarks, which are generally used to keep others from reusing their work sans permission or proper attribution, were removed using Polyvore’s in-house editing tools.
According to Polyvore’s Terms of Service:
You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize Polyvore to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service.
In connection with User Submissions, you further agree that you will not:
submit material that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant Polyvore all of the license rights granted herein; (ii) publish falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage Polyvore or any third party;
When we contacted Polyvore about all of the images derived from the EBSQart website and asked them to remove all source images, derivative images, and block our domain from being “clipped” again, they apologized and said they took care of it. A later search of their site revealed that while the source images were gone, the derivative items remained fully intact on their site without any attribution to the original artists or works of art until another complaint was filed. We hope this is the end of the issue as far as the EBSQ website is concerned, but I have my doubts if their ongoing battle with Etsy is indicative of how they do business.
While, according to Polyvore-founder Pasha Sadri, Polyvore is not a sales venue, he also admitted that they do make money when someone clicks through to an affiliated merchant like The Gap and makes a purchase (see the conversation in context at Flickr) There is also some talk of them enabling you to print out your spanking “new” derviative artwork in the future. So yes, they are potentially profitting from your stolen artwork.
What can you do if your work has been used at Polyvore without your consent?
Make sure you document every single Polyvore “set” that used your image(s) including screenshots and urls for each infraction
Contact email@example.com with your complaint. Ask them to remove your source images, ALL derivative works created from your originals, and ask them to block your domain from being snipped again if the work was stolen from your personal domain or blog. You can also submit your complaint via their online copyright infraction form.
Follow up to make sure your work has actually been removed. Don’t just take their word for it!
So, what’s your take on this issue? Is Polyvore simply an interesting space that lets you mashup other people’s images to create something new and fun to share with your friends? Or is the site blatantly encouraging copyright infringement and ignoring artists’ rights?