How I make sure my art doesn’t get ripped off on the Internet
I follow these six easy steps to make sure my art doesn’t get stolen online:
1) Be original.
I aim to make art so original that no one will question who made it.
2) Sell only live art.
3) Pursue credit in innovative ways.
No one has ever claimed a reproduction of my work as their own, but when I’ve known about images of my work being used without any mention of my name I’ve approached the situation as a teaching opportunity or used it as an illustrative point.
4) Embrace the copying of style.
Lots of people make originals that resemble mine somewhat, and it makes me feel pretty good about my work.
5) Don’t assume that anyone is copying style.
It’s usually pretty difficult to be sure that anyone is copying anyone else. That said, if another artist was making and selling works that I was certain were copies of my paintings, I would probably talk about them on my blog. It would drive Internet traffic looking for them to me.
6) Be clear about what you want from the world and from the Internet.
I make sure everyone knows where I stand with regards to copyright. At the bottom of every page of my site, there’s a smiley face instead of a ©. Click on the face and it takes you to a page that fully explains my beliefs.
Humans have never believed in paying for an idea or even in giving credit for every idea. I like to think I always remember to do so, but I probably don’t. It’s hard to trace every bit of culture that makes up my own personal culture—the things I believe in, enjoy, and create.
Everything from screaming about your intellectual property rights and threatening lawyers to shrink-wrapping your images online and making them not right-click-able is just burying your head in the sand. An open source world is the one we’ve always lived in: it’s the one we built.
If you want to protect your work from being ripped off online, find some punk way of doing it, because otherwise you’re just joining a system that’s intent on destroying culture.
This is isn’t my art. I mean, it’s made with a digital reproduction of my art—this one to be precise—but it’s my friend Nessa who made this image. She’s brilliant with Photoshop, and she’s always using her talents to put herself in strange places (visually, I mean). I was flattered that one of my works would earn a Nessa face!
And anyway, we all know that this isn’t Nessa’s image or mine. This Liberty may not be holding a torch, but she still belongs to Frédéric Bartholdi, the man who designed Liberty Enlightening the World, a monument commonly known as the Statue of Liberty.
Then again Bartholdi wasn’t exactly inventing something new either. He was pulling from a lot of old ideas and most notably from the Colossus of Rhodes, an enormous statue that probably held a torch which possibly represented freedom and certainly acted as a beacon for ships arriving at the harbor of Rhodes where the statue stood in the 3rd century BCE. He wanted to represent a version of Columbia (the female personification of the US) influenced by everything from Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People to the ancient Roman goddess of liberty.
Talk about a mash-up! Bartholdi was so hip-hop.
Is it such a disappointment that culture draws on culture to make new culture? Is it such a surprise? As an artist, I, for one, intend to encourage this sort of thing. It’s what I live for.