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zunisong
02-28-2011, 06:03 PM
Hi. I was just wondering can artists legally paint a celebrity? Aren't there copywright laws etc? I have a friend that is doing a series of iconographic type artwork... without a license. Isn't that a risk?

The work is artistic original in nature, not a repro of a photo.. but it's definetely clear who the subject matter is on each painting.

mariposa-art
02-28-2011, 06:46 PM
There would definitely be a risk selling prints of a celebrity portrait or trying to sell it in a gallery or art show (doubt the gallery or show would take it) but I don't think there's a lot of risk in just doing the portrait as long as it's just shown on their blog or website and is overall a pretty low-key project. (Full disclosure, I've done this myself.) There are so, so, so many of these celebrity portraits floating around (including on Wet Canvas!) and most of the time they seem to go unnoticed.

Technically, though, I think that anything copied from a particular photo (even if it is artistically very different) is a no-go. For example, the artist who painted the Obama "Hope" portrait (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/03/ap-blasts-obama/) was sued by the AP because he used their photo as reference.

However, I can't imagine getting in trouble for doing a portrait of Obama, for example, if the artist used a combination of photo references (unlike the one picture used for "Hope"), as long as the resulting portrait was unique enough that no one could even recognize which photos were used as reference. There might be exceptions to this as well, though. Not really sure.

zunisong
02-28-2011, 07:08 PM
If the image was done from a still from a movie (clip shot) that the artist did themselves would it be as liable? I imagine the film company owns the right as well to any stills from a particular movie..

I know it's touchy..

This person is planning on showing work in an exhibition.. that's why I was wondering. I would be nervous myself.

mariposa-art
02-28-2011, 07:23 PM
I agree with you; I would not risk it personally for an exhibition. Maybe if it was a small movie memorabilia convention or something, they might welcome such art and then no one would think twice. But for the most part, I personally would not risk it. It might be considered "fair use" but I sure would not be willing to test this out to see if it would hold up.

As for using a screenshot as a reference, that could be less risky merely because it would be the movie studio that would have to take notice and protest, and the odds of them going to the trouble would be slim. (On the other hand, an individual photographer might be more apt to go to the trouble to protest if they see their photo used as a reference for some art.) But if either copyright holder (film studio or photographer) took notice, it would not be good for the artist.

Shamrock15
02-28-2011, 07:28 PM
If it's not done from a photo, I don't think there's anything to worry about. If that were the case, paparazzi would have been out of work long ago. As long as you don't get into defamation sort of grounds, I don't believe that celebrities can "own" an image (not meaning pictures or photos) that is out in public.

zunisong
02-28-2011, 07:44 PM
These days with youtube anybody can get a screen shot from film or any media. At least the composition would be unique to the art. I still would be worried about some sort of remification if the art became famous or people started to take notice. I think the more stylistic probably the better too, so it really doesn't rememble a photo

alfreda
02-28-2011, 07:56 PM
"Except in special "Fair Use" cases, before you can use movie stills or film clips from classic movies, or host a public screening of a classic movie, either for commercial or non-profit purposes, you must first get permission from the copyright owner. "
http://www.reelclassics.com/Buy/licensing.htm

alfreda
02-28-2011, 07:59 PM
I also found this:
http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/how-can-i-paint-a-painting-of-a-celebrity-without--230146.html

hayden102891
03-01-2011, 01:52 AM
Yes, there are definite legal issues, even if you are altering the work. I am by no means a legal expert, but I do know that Shepherd Fairey was absolutely screwed for "referencing" an AP photograph for his Obama Hope poster.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepard_Fairey#Legal_issues_with_appropriation_and_fair_use

There are articles on it all over the internet. Definitely a serious issue to be concerned about.

Keep in mind, he only looked at the AP photograph (he alleges he did not) and spray painted it onto a canvas. It's a definite possibility to get in trouble for it. You might want to read up on his case, it's still on going, but may be of interest in regards to your problem.

stlukesguild
03-01-2011, 02:39 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-16-305x305.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-B38572.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-rauschenberg.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-batmanRobin2.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-Grin.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-ron-english-guernica-go-rou2.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-midnightmickeysmall.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Mar-2011/39499-leda_and_swan2.jpg

The answer is: it depends. Artist have long drawn images from popular culture. Employing another artist's photograph is always laden with potential legal (and ethical) issues. Alfreda mentions "fair use". Under "fair use" laws an artist is able to employ pre-existing images for social commentary and criticism. It is under this law that Saturday Night Live and Mad Magazine are able to do satires of movies and celebrities. One would assume that the paintings (above) all fall under the protection of "fair use"... but ultimately the copyright owner of any image can sue and the burden of proof (and costs of legal defense) is upon the artist. A simple painting based upon another's photograph of a celebrity that doesn't really change the intention of the image would be quite open to challenge. A painting, on the other hand, that utilized an image of a famous celebrity or even cultural icon like Mickey Mouse or Charlie Brown or Guernica as part of a work of social commentary... in which the image of a given celebrity or cultural icon was central to the meaning would be far less vulnerable to challenge.

V.Bleile
03-01-2011, 03:18 PM
I agree, -it depends. And to complicate matters further, it's not solely an issue of copyright regarding where the reference material may have come from that could bring legal problems, there can also be right of publicity which I believe varies from state to state here in the US.

Some actors, musicians, athletes, etc, do seek to protect the use of their image and the courts have ruled on their side. Other times not.

This article, "Tiger Woods -- The Use of Celebrity Images In Works of Art : The Right of Publicity v. The First Amendment", may be of interest to you:
http://library.findlaw.com/2003/Dec/1/133182.html

FWIW, in June, 2003 ETW corp (Woods' licensing) lost the case on appeal.

Marty Lenhart
03-01-2011, 09:30 PM
I have a friend that paints icons of celebrities. Demtrie Kabbaz, out of St Louis. Most of the people he paints are long dead (Marilyn, James Dean, etc).

zunisong
03-08-2011, 03:40 AM
I have a friend that paints icons of celebrities. Demtrie Kabbaz, out of St Louis. Most of the people he paints are long dead (Marilyn, James Dean, etc).

Even so there can be issues, the estate of the dead actor/politician or the movie production company can have rights to a certain scene or movie still.

I think it's a sticky subject. In the instance I am talking about.. someone I know is copying images of stars or famous figures, with a bit of photoshop filters added (projected on a canvas). It's obvious who it is where it is from..

I am keeping my mouth shut with him.. it's his deal.. I was just curious if it was in fact illegal or what could happen if it were in a show, and lots of people saw it.

It's tempting to do it, to make money off of a famous face.. paintings of Clint Eastwood certainly will sell better than one of any old person... but for me I think it's just a copy of another person's work.. albeit a photographer or a movie company. The images he's using aren't original at all.

It rubs me the wrong way to do that... I myself try to paint original subjects or if i use a photographer's photo as a reference I get permission... period, but that's me.

mariposa-art
03-08-2011, 12:14 PM
I think it's a sticky subject. In the instance I am talking about.. someone I know is copying images of stars or famous figures, with a bit of photoshop filters added (projected on a canvas). It's obvious who it is where it is from..
That sounds very risky. Just projecting the pictures onto canvas, after a bit of Photoshopping? No . . . *shakes head*

I am keeping my mouth shut with him.. it's his deal.. I was just curious if it was in fact illegal or what could happen if it were in a show, and lots of people saw it.
I think he's asking for trouble, but as you say, it's his deal. I can't believe he doesn't anticipate that this could backfire on him!

When I was a teenager, I did a LOT of celebrity portraits and sometimes sold them to collectors or sold them to a friend of the actor or whatever. It was a great way to learn how to get a likeness and I found that because of the medium or colors used, I would put a lot of creativity in it. (It was far more time-consuming than just projecting the photo onto the canvas! :lol: ) But it didn't take too many years for me to figure out that there was more to art than celebrity portraits and that there were copyright concerns.

I still sometimes enjoy doing a celebrity portrait for fun or to "show off" to my friends (if they are a fan of the celebrity, for example), or even selling the original to a collectoróbut I cannot fathom thinking I could get that art into a regular art show! :eek:

apprentice
03-28-2011, 12:32 AM
Painting a celebrity as an original work of art, whether referencing a photo is definitely fair use in my opinion. It's when the artist tries to profit off the celebrity by selling prints that things can get sticky, since the celebrity is entitled to his/her rights to publicity (politicians not included) and the photographer his rights to reproduction. The main argument for fair use is so that it doesn't end up stifling the artist. Selling an original painting usually isn't considered as affecting 'rights to publicity' since only a single instance is sold. Just my 2 cents.

timelady
03-28-2011, 09:48 AM
Painting a celebrity as an original work of art, whether referencing a photo is definitely fair use in my opinion
___

Your opinion is wrong, unfortunately. Selling or exhibiting even the original would violate the original artist/photographer's rights. You need to take some copyright classes or consult an IP lawyer for advice.

___
It's obvious who it is where it is from..
___
This is absolutely a key point in copyright law. Even if it didn't earn money it's still recognisable and the original art can sue for cessation of the use of the image in any way (exhibiting, portfolio, etc) even if they don't get monetary damages.

The "list" of images given above is interesting but complicates the discussion. A lot of those images are parody (which IS legal), collage (where things get more complicated because it's about the focus of the work), trademark (cartoon characters aren't celebrities but intellectual property in and of themselves), combining different images (similar issues to collage), and artwork done before the current copyright laws were in place (Warhol).

In each case given above there will be court examples where the derivative artist has won, and where they have lost. So I wouldn't lean on them as examples to prove any particular use is okay for sure.

Tina.

apprentice
03-31-2011, 03:11 PM
Painting a celebrity as an original work of art, whether referencing a photo is definitely fair use in my opinion
___

Your opinion is wrong, unfortunately. Selling or exhibiting even the original would violate the original artist/photographer's rights. You need to take some copyright classes or consult an IP lawyer for advice.

___
It's obvious who it is where it is from..
___
This is absolutely a key point in copyright law. Even if it didn't earn money it's still recognisable and the original art can sue for cessation of the use of the image in any way (exhibiting, portfolio, etc) even if they don't get monetary damages.

The "list" of images given above is interesting but complicates the discussion. A lot of those images are parody (which IS legal), collage (where things get more complicated because it's about the focus of the work), trademark (cartoon characters aren't celebrities but intellectual property in and of themselves), combining different images (similar issues to collage), and artwork done before the current copyright laws were in place (Warhol).

In each case given above there will be court examples where the derivative artist has won, and where they have lost. So I wouldn't lean on them as examples to prove any particular use is okay for sure.

Tina.

Thanks, Tina. I've definitely been known to be wrong on many occasions. That said, having browsed thru various sports art communities over time, the amount of celebrity athlete artwork produced and sold without licensing is staggering. Can't say that it's necessarily ethical, but it is what it is. There is also very little information (at least on the web) about how to go about securing licensing rights. More information and greater awareness would definitely go a long ways in helping all parties.

Horsa
03-31-2011, 04:49 PM
Most celebrities have an agent or publicist. The way to secure licensing rights begins with contacting that person.

Such rights may not be cheap, and depending on whether you are known or unknown artist and what use you want to put the image too, you may well be refused.

zunisong
04-01-2011, 01:28 AM
The celebrities for the most part that this person is painting are dead, except for a couple ..

What about painting public figures, Queen Elizabeth etc?

ray7
04-01-2011, 06:38 AM
Just to add another thought to this, back in the late 1980s I was doing freelance photography and did some photos for a bingo hall that had live acts on. I was only paid for enlargements of any photos they liked and copyright stayed with me. The photos were taken with full permission of the acts including, to name a few, Bob Monkhouse, Frank Carson and Susan Maughan. If I was to do portraits in pastels of these people now and put them up for sale how would I stand?
I feel as the photos were taken with permission and I own the copyright I would be ok.

Ray

Horsa
04-01-2011, 10:45 AM
When painting celebs what medium do you prefer?

I find spry paint works best for me. I wear a vest with large pockets, then whip out the can and presto! Another painted celeb. }:>

Rusalka
04-15-2011, 03:55 AM
What about all the live painters who speed paint simple celebrity pictures as part of a performance? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2AL8x1zGnc

timelady
04-15-2011, 02:24 PM
ray - as your own the copyright on the original images then you can give yourself permission to create the new images from them. :) So in your case you'd be fine.

ray7
04-15-2011, 03:31 PM
Thanks Timelady thats what I thought but it never hurts to ask.

Ray

slowbro
09-30-2011, 06:55 AM
You can paint celeb style (http://www.celebguru.com/entry/steal-celeb-style-dress-mandy-moore/) pictures that look like celebrities - just don't mention their names. The title of each protrait should be fairly ambiguous but could relate to some personal trait of that person. You just have to be careful and very clever.

Piscean33
10-03-2011, 03:07 AM
It looks as if you have prices on them and waiting to be hung in your home. If you're selling them, it's a copyrighting issue unless you get complete permission from Disney and the artist to reproduce. Even giving them away is a copyright issue, but most places won't bother with people giving away paintings to charity or painting them for their own use.

You didn't change enough in your paintings to call it original, so you have a double whammy. Not only are you using a copyrighted character, but you are also blatantly copying someone else's painting! You could get into hot water with these.

I paint and write, so I've had to do a lot of research on this. You CAN paint celebrities as long as you don't copy off of a photograph that is copyrighted. Animated characters aren't considered popular celeb, unfortunately.

LostInWonderArt
12-08-2011, 12:16 AM
Whether the celebrity is long dead or not, the copyright often lands with the photographer, and I know current copyright laws in literature stand for 75 years after the death of the author (which is why you will only find one publisher of "Catcher in the Rye" but dozens of publishers of "Tale of 2 Cities").

I have seen that some are more lenient with use of images than others. I know that Star Trek allows more use of their images in artwork than, say, the estate of Elvis Presley (which I hear is very strict about licensing).

That being said, there used to be an artist who lived around here who exclusively painted rock star portraits. Many were from photos that he personally took. I know that he didn't have much trouble getting licensing from Ray Charles's estate to sell prints of his painting, but again, this was from a photo that he personally took. I could see how this might be a headache if the person was selling 30 paintings, all of different celebrities.

Rusalka
12-16-2011, 06:45 PM
You generally don't need permission to do an artistic rendition of a celebrity. Copyright only applies to fixed forms of expression. A celebrity can't own a copyright on your picture of him/her. The "right of publicity" usually applies to cases where you're using the image of the celebrity to promote or sell something. Artwork is sometimes specifically excluded. The laws on right to publicity vary from state to state. Sometimes dead celebrities are fair game, also depending on state law. The "Pricing and Ethical Guidelines" has a few pages on this topic.

roscoegino
12-19-2011, 07:42 PM
So just to recap. Worse possible case scenario: I base my artwork off of a picture of a celebrity with the intention of later selling that artwork. Not only would I have to ask permission from the photographer, but I may also have to deal with the celebrity herself (whether her or her estate), true?

Rusalka
12-21-2011, 01:42 AM
No, in most cases you would not have to deal with the estate of the celebrity. Please check the book I mentioned above. There are several pages talking about this topic. Specific laws regarding right of publicity vary by state. Do you live in the U.S.?

roscoegino
12-21-2011, 03:28 PM
I live in the states, in California.

onemeg
05-05-2012, 06:00 PM
Please excuse me for digging up an old thread, but I did not see a newer one and didn't want to make a duplicate topic. My question is this:
I've been drawing (pastel/charcoal) members of a famous band, some of which are no longer living. Some of the drawings I have used photos for reference. I have no idea who the photographer was, or how to find this out. Some of the drawings I used still shots taken from videos (one film, one music video-both on youtube uploaded by personal users with no real copyright information listed) and again have no idea who owns them.
Can anyone give me advice about how to find the owners of the photos/videos, or what I'd need to do to if I want to try to sell my work?
Thanks -Meg

Greg Long
05-06-2012, 05:29 PM
Meg, you could try searching for the images with google image-search, it may lead you to the copyright holders webpage or at least a page with the copyright info.

Rusalka
06-01-2012, 05:33 AM
Meg, since the U.S. has no "orphaned works" law, it is your responsibility to find the author of the photographs before copying them. A little research will yield the name of the production company if the band appeared in a film. It sounds like a lot of trouble, is there enough of a market for what you want to sell to warrant the headache?