Artists Rights

"Be Inspired" and be original!

Myself and a group of friends and colleagues have been discussing the issue of copyright infringement (copying someone else's artwork) versus being inspired by  art and other things to create artwork. Brenda Pinnick came up with an idea for all of us to have a blog hop to share a bit on the subject in order to educate and spread the word about originality.

There is a big difference between being inspired by other artists and copying them.  For many of us who were trained artists and went to art school we learned that using reference material was a great thing. We also learned that if you're working with photographs  using   someone else's image you cannot just trace that picture, re paint it and call it your own, however you can study some of the elements such as trying to understand what a particular flower might look like from a front view or back view.   You can take your own photograph,  repaint  exactly the way you see it and that is not copyright infringement because the photograph is your own creation.  This is a painting that I did from my own photography. This would NOT be ok if this was not my own photo, the reason is I used the exact composition, color etc. I have created a very rough drawing showing you an example of how it would be ok to use reference as inspiration when looking at others photographs.





ROUGH SKETCH (it would be ok for another person to use my above photograph as reference and inspiration in this way below). The rose is an image from nature so I could have found this flower position and a similar shape in nature.


 I would like to share with you the artwork of one of my most inspiring artist friends Chris Chun.   I have only known him for a few years but when I first laid eyes on his work my heart was touched deeply, he has the ability to capture nature and other beauty using traditional elements, but adding his own whimsical new refreshing vision. Chris has posted something about this topic today also,   his examples are perfect as to being inspired by ideas using things he saw and loved,  in a way that is perfectly legitimate  and original. Click for his post.

I think it's wonderful that so many people are enjoying crafts and being creative.   I think everyone has an inner voice to share artistically even those who say they cannot draw or paint.   Many people are purchasing all kinds of scrapbook papers and products for craft projects and using them to create new designs, that's a great thing,  however some of them don't understand that they cannot copyright that work and say it is  their own. There are many images that are in the public domain that people can work with legally and do not infringe others copyrights (for example Dover art has many books).  I highly recommend that those who would like to do something commercially and need some other art to work with use PD images, people can create something beautiful with those images and as long as they do something unique they can claim a copyright on it.

I apologize if this blog post is a little confusing to some, I struggle with the written word,  hopefully what I am try to share makes sense. I always tell people when they asked me if I have any tips on how to earn a living from their artwork as I do.  I say " firstly find your inner voice , it is okay to look around and be inspired however make sure whatever you do  is truly original and is not you trying to be somebody else."

UPDATE: Below is an example of a situation were an artist was told to use my designs as inspiration to create some new art.  As you can see why this would most likely be considered copyright infringement and is not an acceptable way to be inspired by another artist.  This happened years ago and i had a chance to chat with the artist direct and she was very lovely and just did not understand this crossed over the line. Thankfully her agent removed it from his offerings before licensing it to any one. 

The artwork was something already on the market so the artist had access to the two images togther.  Can you guess what design is not mine?


I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues  who have been sharing  about  this topic and bringing it to the attention of others who might not understand the difference between copying and being inspired. Here are the other artists who have participated in the hop.

Attention Copyright Advocates

Action Alert from the Copyright Alliance

Dear Copyright Advocates,

The Obama Administration is asking to hear from YOU, the creative backbone of our country, about how intellectual property infringement affects YOUR livelihood. The Administration is also seeking advice on what the government could be doing to better protect the rights of artists and creators in our country. HERE'S A CHANCE FOR YOU TO BE HEARD!


Last year President Obama appointed and the U.S. Senate confirmed Victoria Espinel to be the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Her job is "to help protect the creativity of the American public" by coordinating with all the federal agencies that fight the infringement of intellectual property, which includes creating and selling counterfeit goods; pirating video games, music, and books; and infringing upon the many other creative works that are produced by artists in this country.
As you know, the unauthorized copying, sale, and distribution of artists' intellectual property directly impact the ability of artists and creators to control the use of their own creativity, not to mention their ability to receive income they have earned from their labor. This impacts U.S. employment and the economy, and our ability to globally compete.

As required by an Act of Congress (The PRO-IP Act of 2008), Ms. Espinel and her White House team are preparing a Joint Strategic Plan that will include YOUR FEEDBACK on the costs and risks that intellectual property infringement has on the American public.

Here's how to make yourself heard!

1.  Send an email to Ms. Espinel and the Obama Administration:  and copy the Copyright Alliance on your email:

2.  Begin your letter with "The Copyright Alliance has informed me of this welcome invitation from the Obama Administration to share my thoughts on my rights as a creator."

3.  Include in your email: your story, why intellectual property rights are important to you, how piracy and infringement affect you, and what the U.S. government can do to better protect the rights of creative Americans.

4.  Also include in your email: your name, city, state, and what type of artist you are.

5.  DO NOT include any personal or private information as all comments will be posted publicly on the White House website.

All comments must be submitted by Wednesday, March 24 by 5:00 p.m. EST. To read the entire call for comments, click here.

Don't be shy! Take two minutes today to make your voice heard, and don't forget to spread the word to everyone you know. Forward this notice using this short URL - - by email, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and more!

Lucinda Dugger

P.S. If you received this email from a friend, and you are interested in receiving more information about how you can speak up for your rights, sign up for our network of Copyright Advocates.

Follow up: This is amazing letter my dear friend Andrea has written, I have been given permission  to share it on my blog. 

Dear Ms. Espinel,

Diminishing the power of copyright will result in the allowance of the misappropriation of proprietary rights. It is moral and legal issue regarding societal consequences for leaders to consider before altering the power of copyright.

I am a self-employed sole proprietorship since 1979 and have helped make many millions of dollars for many companies in the chain of commerce in the US and abroad including manufacturers, importers, shippers, buyers, packagers, retailers and others over the years because of my unique proprietary style that I conform to exploit personally to market.

My name is Andrea Mistretta and am one of thousands of similar hard working artist/designers/small business owners that influence the artistic stylings of many categories of manufactured goods. We will be negatively impacted if the power of copyright laws are ever diminished from its present state established by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

The the law of nature proves that when small vital systems at the foundation are killed, it eventually kills the larger systems they support. So too will perish the small businesses that make visual, musical and literary arts as livelihoods.  If their copyrights go unprotected in the economy system, it will eventually take its toll on larger entities in the chain of commerce.

The case of art and image making and protection, it is a matter of protecting morality and honor as well as the protecting goods of artistic imagery.   Why steal art and imagery? Because one can?
It not only takes skills to create imagery, but unique innate talents to make the original goods of imagery.  Imagery that sells more goods. Goods sold are commodities. Commodities make the world go around. This is the delicate “Eco-system” - “ECONOMY SYSTEM”  (The “ECONOMY SYSTEM” I mentioned in my presentation at the Small Business Administration’s economic impact forum in August 2008 in New York City.)

Original creators must protected from lethal results from acts such as H.R. 5889 Orphan Works Act 0f 2008 And  S. 2913  Shawn  Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. Fighting art theft from predatory entities is exhausting enough kill the small businesses. When society doesn’t protect their treasures from extinction, the loss is final. Then there will be one great homogenized stew of increasing valuelessness and sameness that is unfolding now.  How fit will that be for society’s future? Great empires fall to when they step over a “nickel to pick up a dollar”.

The copyright law should be strengthened because digital imagery can stolen from thin air so much more easily than physical property.

Thank you for hearing my voice,

Andrea Mistretta

The proposed Orphan Works Legislation

CONGRESS is considering a major reform of copyright law intended to solve the problem of “orphan works”   unfortunately the bill as proposed creates many new problems for the creative community  and even those people who just like to post  and share photos online.  Please take a moment  to understand the issue and then judge for yourself if you feel this bill is  unfair. A website has been created that you can go to and learn all about the issue and hopefully participate in the fight against this bill. The website: owoh.

Anyone who creates anything should be concerned about this bill passing.