I wanted to take a moment to alert you all to a very important issue. It has come to my attention, time and time again, that there are many who view infringement as acceptable as long as the infringing party is not profiting off of the infringement, or that it’s okay if it was found somewhere on the internet, or that ‘fair use’ makes it alright to copy someone’s work. It is truly disheartening to come across these types of comments, as they perpetuate more myths and continue to allow artists’ copyrights to be violated.
It is actually not okay just because there is no profit, not okay just because the image or design was changed a little, not okay if the original artist hasn’t officially registered it with the US copyright office, and still not okay just because the image was traced rather than directly lifted. ALL these instances are still cases of infringement. If there is any question, or if you feel I am mistaken, here is Deviant Art’s excellent explanation of copyright policy in black & white – or maybe sage and dark green – that explains everything you need to know:
There are some great deviants who have purchased wings from me and make some excellent stock photos, though my own images are definitely not stock, and the stock photos featuring artists that are wearing my wings should always be used with credits listed when posting the finished work. I am not okay with photos of my wings, even if they were purchased by the photographer, to be used to make Photoshop brushes or layers for distribution. If you have a set of my wings and have a photo of them being worn and turn it into an art piece, that is of course your right, though it would be wonderful to have a credit listed for them As you can see in DA’s description, changing a bit of a design will not protect you from the copyright laws if the original artist chooses to take legal action, especially if the work is obviously recognizable as someone else’s. Naming the work with anything that is recognizable as the copied artist’s name, title or business name is also of course a big no-no. This is especially the case when the copying is done in the same medium as the original artist’s work – copying a painting or drawing with another painting, or fairy wing maker copying someone else’s wings for example. It also is wrong to take a person’s design and offer it to the masses in digital form, such as copying my wing designs either by directly copying my photo or by tracing the design and offering it as a Photoshop file or brush as a download, whether for free or profit.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read the policy, especially if you were unaware before and are willing to accept new information and apply it to your ethics.
If you do ever find yourself in a situation where you have copied someone’s work too closely and are asked by the original artist to either remove the work, change it or add a credit, please be civil and work with the artist. Lashing out angrily and insisting that the original artist has no right to make their requests would only make it more obvious that you don’t respect other artists and their work, and leave you even more open to legal avenues to have your work removed from the public eye.