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'Back' on track and discussing copyright

Hi, I can't believe we are into February already, my back is on the mend so am feeling ready for the world. Quite zingy really,despite having just recovered from flu, I managed to get together some work for the SBA show, which is always stressful. My theme is 'work in progress a snapshot of the painters desk', this may or may not be a success but I am always trying something new, I really hope they get in but it is never 'in the bag' as they say.
Hoping to spend the weekend painting but with teenagers about anything could happen, we are supposed to be painting the living room/ extension ( a big moment in this house) only 6 years in waiting.
Any hoo I thought this blog could be 'a sharing of info' blog, recently an acquaintance of mine has been badly treated over a copyright issue so I thought I would share my rant on this subject, please correct if I am wrong, or share your experiences. Us artists should share any experiences that should be avoided, there are so many sharks out there waiting to rip us off. I have certainly had my fair share, mainly when I was working freelance as a fashion designer but also as an illustrator.
 Donating/selling your painting does NOT give the recipient/customer any ownership of copyright. That remains yours and can only be theirs if there is a separate and written contract to purchase the copyright. Copyright would then only be sold for a fixed amount of time, ownership of copyright for life would have to be a large sum of money, as it would continue after your death ie forever. If the owner of the painting wanted to make cards or prints they would need your permission and or have to pay you and they will have to negociate how long and for what purposes. If you sell or give or donate the copyright you can't use it yourself (there are various agreements you can make) but if they own the picture and not the copyright, you can make cards, books or whatever from your scanned image. Spread the word.
If you sell a painting or give it away the copyright is yours they can not reproduce it without your permission or a contract and or payment.
All to often, we as artists are so happy and relieved when people like our work and can sometimes be persuaded to part with a treasured piece of work for a poultry sum, not a problem if both parties are happy but in situations where the recipient of the work has the ability and a plan to really profit from the painting, be wary, they will have done this before and will know how to manipulate the situation. We should value our work, if we value the time spent learning and then painting, we can at least expect others to respect the value we put upon the finished artwork.

Now then lets not be too gloomy, research is the key, ask questions, be honest with your fears and explain to anyone interested in having your work, how long it took to create and how important it is to you and your livelihood. I have the habit of photographing my work as I complete it and emailing the images to myself as proof and date of ownership, it is a small thing but does give me  little peace of mind. I try to keep a record of all the people who buy my paintings, so that if something exciting happens with the image, I can let the owners of the original know. 
I am always flattered when someone is inspired but one of my paintings but disappointed when copies are made and sold, that can be wounding. I do realise however that imitation can be sincere flattery, it is nice to see paintings that have been created from my teaching. In this situation the inspiration source should be credited and the piece shouldn't really be sold. 
So in conclusion keep a log of your work, mark the reverse with a note saying you retain copyright and be politely savvy, don't be afraid to discuss your rights when you feel they are at risk, even if it's a hobby your work should be protected. 
billyshowell copyright 23/2/2013 :)


  1. Just LOVE your work and always look forward to seeing your new creations! I have been drawing and painting (acrylics mainly) a life-time and have wanted to learn watercolor. I was drawn (pun intended!) to your books and excited to get started on learning! Bless you and your talent for inspiring and teaching me!

  2. This is so wonderful post. You draw a nice picture. And perfectly use watercolor. PlantWerkZ

  3. Billy so glad you are feeling better and back on track! Very interesting blog indeed and lots of useful information that I have taken a note of :)Has you know I sbmitted work to the SBA and the wait is killing me! I want to know *NOW*...Lets hope we have news in the next day or so! Hope you managed to get some painting done this weekend? I'm painting Ivy leaves right this minute, those dreaded leaves! Sigh!

  4. Glad you are up and feeling better. Great blog. I too just starting blogging and so far I love it. Thanks so much for the copyright explanation. I had one student say to me if it is on the computer then you give up your right to copyright it. It's fair game. Just about feel over. I will be sharing what you wrote with my students if that is ok with you.
    Take care


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