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SummerSummer -
edited August 2015 in General Discussion
I grapple with this issue from time to time. I ask myself: "When can I sign MY name to a creative work that I have done?" Here is one answer that I ran across today that some of you might find interesting. To me, it is more succinct than other research that I have run across.

“Question: Artist's Copyright FAQ: If I Change 10 Percent, Isn't It a New Image? Answer: The belief that changing 10 percent of an image means you've created a new one is a myth (as is changing 20 percent or 30 percent). The fair use guideline is that you can use 10 percent of something.

It's certainly not a legal test, but as a rule of thumb consider whether, if your painting were put next to the painting or photo you're copying, would someone say you'd based it on the original? If so, you're risking copyright infringement. Don't fool yourself with this 10 percent change myth.” by Marion Boddy-Evans, Painting Expert -


  • With respect, you can't say it's yours if you are copying someone's work. If you have added or changed it somehow, then give the credit by adding "After"whoever for example. I believe that would be the right thing to do.
  • edited August 2015
    I agree Ron, but I'm still sort of struggling with this. On the one hand, you've got people who are basically copying somebody else's work, modifying it slightly, and passing it off as their own. That's wrong. On the other hand, the whole of art history seems to be a sort of conversation between artists over time, with people creating works in response to something similar that another artist did. You can see the influences in the work. Renaissance painters and sculptors freely borrowed from antiquity, and impressionists and post/impressionists regularly and deliberately echoed aspects of others' work in their own. Look at Van Gogh, Gauguin and Bernard, for example. They probably hoped that others would recognize that a painting was done in response a colleague's work without saying so. Should they have credited their colleagues?

    I'm not sure where the line is, but some seem to think that anything but purely original work is infringement.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2015
    @Ron and @Martin_J_Crane I see that you both have given this issue some thought in your own lives. I see that you have a plan that works for you Ron. For me? I have been letting my conscience be my guide. When the emotion begins to well up I know that I have some thinking to do and some decisions to make. Ron, in an earlier post, if I recall correctly, you decided to always take your own photographs as reference photos for your paintings. I remember thinking how that was a good rule to live by. It is not easy to stay original--especially in this age of media bombardment where good ideas are everywhere and so unprotected--ripe for theft. I like your historical perspective on this subject Martin. It got me thinking how honored I would feel if someone stole one of my painting ideas. Two very interesting responses. Thank you both.
  • Thanks Summer, you made me laugh. Tell me how you're going to take care of the guy who steals your work! Mafia, Mossad, guy who knows a guy?
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2015
    LOL @Ron - I never really thought about it. Do you think being married to an Ex-Army...would do? LOL
  • @Summer OK, here's my 2 cents worth. I'm not sure if this is what you're speaking of exactly but I have several copyright/plagiarism stories that always stick in the back of my mind in regards to painting and illustration.

    When I was a college student, long ago, there was an illustrator whose work I loved named Skip Liepke. His work was very heavily influenced by John Singer Sergent. His work was highly acclaimed commercially and he received what appeared to be unending awards. I was very lucky because I got the opportunity to interview him for a school project. He was very gracious and generous with his time. He spoke endlessly about Sargent through the interview. Anyway, years later he became a fine artist and shows his work at the Arcadia Fine Arts gallery in New York under the name Malcolm T. Liepke. Thing is though that he has many imitators of his paintings, one that I could name is Joseph Lorusso. I see both of the them very well represented in art magazine ads. While Joseph Lorusso is making original paintings, it is very clear that in almost every aspect,including very specific subject matter choices, his work is difficult to distinguish from that of Malcolm T. Liepke's.

    Again, long ago I first saw the work of James Gurney. Paintings from his Dinotopia books were displayed at the Society of Illustrators in NYC. Some of his paintings were influenced by the work of Lawrence Alma Tadema, one of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, but with the addition of dinosaurs. Several years later, when I saw Star Wars Episode I, it was obvious that the scenery on the planet Naboo had been heavily influenced by the work of James Gurney. So many critics had mentioned it in their reviews that George Lucas himself was forced to contact James Gurney and apologize for the similarity. I reference this in an article below.

    The third copyright saga involves the paintings of Roger Dean, who among other things created artwork for the rock group Yes. It is very obvious to people that know his work that the movie Avatar used several of his designs and gave him no credit. His work is too original for it to be an accident. Avatar took his work and gave him no credit. He sued and lost. This is also referenced here.

    I don't know if any of these works were copyrighted. It seems to me that there are many factors involved in determining whether something is truly an original. Also, artwork can be influenced in varying degrees. It becomes a personal choice as to what you're comfortable with accepting. Look at the people I mention in this article and decide for yourself.

  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2015
    @MikeO What you write here is very poignant. I read your well documented (with photos) recollections, experiences and concerns with great interest. Creating today seems to require being informed and having a lot of courage. Thank you. :)
  • For me I see nothing wrong with painting in the style as someone else. Even the same subject matter. Just make sure to use your own photos, or set ups, etc. I could tell right away that the first photo above was by Malcolm Liepke even before reading Mike's post. I love the way he paints. I think of his paintings as 'juicy'. The second one looks very similar but doesn't have that 'juicyness' of Liepke. I assume that's the one by Lorusso. Which is still very nice yet different.
  • when I get an idea for a carving from someone else's
    painting I give credit to the artist I got the idea from. With the changes I made ,What category would this carving be in? The idea came from this painting;
  • billj

    It's a copy or a study.

    I would follow this form of attribution:

    ©2009 Alyson B. Stanfield
    WINTER LANDSCAPE (after John B Hope's 1968 COLD FURY)
    Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches


  • Malcolm Liepke is mentioned by two people as someone who has been copied. He was/is a copyist. He copied fashion photographs. Here is an example. The two images are even the same size as far as I can tell (not as they are shown here). He only changed the colors so they don't look like real flesh. Has he ever been sued for copyright infringement? 
  • My understanding of copyright law for artists is: rights are lifelong and expire within 100 years of an artist's death unless specified in some way (an estate perhaps might hold (or purchase) copyright ownership - not sure). 

    Any use (or license) of an artist's work must be authorized as permissible (you have to ask for permission to use it).  Copyright infringement happens when an artist's work is used without explicit permission.

    I don't copy the work of other artists (living or dead), but if I did I would side with caution and research the standing on the copyright owner of a piece of art.  

    I have to admit that the first thought that came to mind when I read this thread, was a story Joni Mitchell told her audience that was recorded at a live performance from her Miles of Aisles album.  In her introduction to Circle Game she said:  
    "That's one thing that's always like been the difference between the performing arts to me and being a painter, you know.  A painter does a painting and that's it.  He's had the joy of creating it, and maybe he hangs it on a wall and somebody buys it or somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But nobody ever says to him, you know, nobody ever said to Van Gogh 'paint a Starry Night again man!'  He painted it and that was it."

    She laughed, and so did her audience.

  • She (Joni Mitchell) has become quite the painter herself since then also. And nice the way she narrates this in the recording!
  • I paint from photos that I find and admire on the Internet. I don't ask permission because I don't paint to sell. I had pondered emailing the respective photographer with a photo of my painting, and then asking them if they want the painting. I paint on canvas covered board, so it'd be cheap for me to send. It's either that or it goes in a box in the attic, or is given away elsewhere!

    I'm pretty sure that one of my crappy paintings is not much of a "thanks for the inspiration", but maybe they'll appreciate the thought!

    At this stage for me it's about learning and practice. Maybe eventually I'll get good enough to sell something, in which case I guess I'll either paint from creative commons or my own photography. Not holding my breath!
  • I tried getting permission that way too (promising the originator the finished painting) but I've never gotten any response. Don't ever ask permission frome somebody's lawyer. You could tell them you want to give them a million dollars and the lawyer will say no at least at first.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 2018
    This reminds me of something I heard someone say: "It's easier to say I'm sorry than it is to ask for permission."   :p  
  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 2018
    I wish someone would run off a printing of 500,000 of something - like a subcontractor for the government printing office - using my little dog somewhere in their pages.  Let's see, would that be $500,000 to me?  :3   Just dreaming.  You can laugh now.  Hmm.
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