View Full Version : What must I do to protect my artwork from being copied by others?

Lorie J. Gardner
12-28-2007, 09:46 PM

I just did this painting and so many people like it and want a copy of it that my boyfriend started worrying terribly that someone will try to steal my "image" (what he calls it) and make profits off of it. He is terrified of me putting it on the internet...in a website or whatever. He says that watermarks are easy to remove so that is no kind of protection for it.

Anyway, I'm interested in any advice you guys could offer as to how I can protect my artwork from being illegally copied... I just finished this piece this week. It's the one in my avatar.

Thanks for your suggestions,

Deborah Secor
12-28-2007, 10:15 PM
Hi Lorie... Well, your boyfriend is right, however I guess after all the years of showing my work I just don't freak out about this kind of thing any more. You can post a copyright in your signature line, along with putting it on any web page where you post it. You can add a watermark, which makes theft more challenging, too.

I suggest you simply consider making some good Giclee prints of the painting and offering it for sale, if so many people want it! Sounds like a good way to make some money for more pastels to me.

Let me also mention that I've rarely heard of anyone having the kind of copyright trouble you mention...if that's any comfort. You might take this question over to the Art Business Forum, too, and see what they advise you to do.

Hope that helps.

12-31-2007, 06:13 PM
I think your boyfriend is funny! Art is copied all the time . . . but only YOU can make your art. As long as you remain imaginative and motivated, it should not matter what people do. . . . . short of Coca Cola stealing your images and making an ad campaign!

People do copyright their images so you could take the thief to court if they made money on your image.

I wouldn't be afraid. There is some incredible art on this website uploaded every day.

David Michaels

01-01-2008, 01:48 AM
not any way to keep it from being copied.... unless you do not post it on the internet, in shows, in galleries, or magazines..... just sort of keep it on your walls, your mom's walls, and under the bed!!! but it won't get copied.....

the internet is a hotbed of people copying ideas.....I have had this experience myself- not with my art, but with ideas and such....if anyone copies my art I would roll all over the floor laughing....

01-01-2008, 09:53 AM
LOL, Linda has already typed my thoughts on this. I'll add that I won't worry until I'm world famous and get paid millions (in dollars).

Boyfriend *is* right, but it isn't really a big issue. The only *real* money in stealing art is in forgeries of old and new masters.

I document all my artwork by digital photo saved in the computer, mainly to record progress, but it also serves to 'proove' I did it, and when.

01-01-2008, 05:46 PM
As most others have already said, you can go to the trouble of an actual copywrite of all your work, but that won't prevent others from using the "idea" you've portrayed in another similar, but not quite the same way. How can you know that they haven't taken a photograph themselves that is just like what you've painted, and used that photo for their painting, and not used your painting? The chances of another artist painting exactly the same way as you is very small indeed, and as Charlie pointed out, the only "real" money in stealing art is in forgeries of the Masters.

The image you've used here is so small it is hard to see it so I really wouldn't worry. For that matter, a couple of us here have already said how much this small image reminds us of another artist's work who just happens to live in your same town. I'm pointing this out not to say you are copying his work, but rather to say that there really is nothing new in art. We've all built on someone else's ideas at one time or another even if it is unwittingly or unknowinly done.

Is your boy friend in the legal business? His concern sounds like that of a cynical legal advisor. LOL


01-01-2008, 08:50 PM
There is a book called The legal guide for the visual artist on this topic.There are two types of copy right but since 1978 the law almost entirely eliminated common law copyright, All works are now protected by statutory copyright, as soon as created in tangible form. you can find this info in the book. the book also covers many other thing in the visual arts.

01-05-2008, 03:03 PM
Basically if anyone wants to copy anything they will. As long as you can prove it is yours their are in trouble.

I know an artist who had his work copied by a Chinese knife making company, his paintings sell for quite a bit of money. There are cards with his art on them that are legally sold. When I told him I had a knife that had some of his artwork on the sheath he told me that they had done it without permission and they were being sued by him. They had copied the pictures off of his website.

Some people think they will get away with it but they always get found out in the end. I don't worry because I am also a writer and have copyright on everything.

01-11-2008, 06:14 PM
I don't think there is any way to prevent someone copying your work but taking precautions in terms of copyright, watermarks etc will at least demonstrate that you do hold the copyright should a sitation ever arise that you want to challenge.

Having said that, if this work is in demand, I would suggest either making affordable giclee prints or perhaps a series of originals that are similar in theme and that would appeal to the same market. That way those people that are interested in the painting can acquire their own rather than trying to forge or copy your work.

I make giclee prints available of all my paintings but never in the same size. The owner of the original is the only person who gets the painting in it's "true form". People that like the painting but can't afford/don't want to purchase the original can only purchase a 5x7 or 8x10 giclee print.

Phil Coleman
01-15-2008, 01:46 PM
Hi Lorie,
Perhaps a sealed vault could be one answer!

He also sounds overly concerned but should it happen you will have the right to address it from a legal aspect.

If you post to any site a JPG image which is perhaps some 75k in size, such an image will not be able to produce prints of even a decent quality! with it being of such a low resolution, so there is nothing to worry about there.

Are you also afraid that others may attempt to duplicate a similar image using pastels or gain inspiration from it? Many people post their works on here which also offers some inspiration for others, perhaps beginners who feel moved and inspired by such themes.

If we did not learn from others we would all still be painting in a sort of cave man style. So i am also sure that you have also been inspired to use elements, colour themes or to capture light in a certain way by seeing other people work. So stop worrying and get painting!

Lorie what colours did you use in each area? Lol :evil: