Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

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Wayfarer
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Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby Wayfarer » Wed May 29, 2019 12:52 pm

HI Everyone,

A few months back I discovered that an artist was using some of our bird photographs in her artwork and had not sought permission to do so. I also recognised many images made by other photographers in her work, most them probably sourced from Birds Online. I contacted those photographers I was able to recognise and track down to let them know how their work was being used and corresponded with some of them privately on this forum.

This was not the first time this had occurred and, sadly, I heard the same story from other photographers. I have just discovered another fairly substantial breach from a different artist, again using virtual tracings of our images, making work and selling and exhibiting it without contact, permission or remuneration for the photographic images used in said works. This time I am in somewhat of a dilemma as to what to do.

I believe very strongly that as photographers, makers and artists, we have a collective responsibility to uphold the integrity of the creative community and to ensure that we all have a chance to benefit from the hard work we put into our images. To respect the intellectual property rights of fellow creatives and to ensure that we make a stand when these are knowingly and repeatedly breached.

This artist's entire body of work is bird based and it would be fairly safe to assume that the photographic reference used, which is detailed and in most cases can be proved to traced with very minor proportional adjustments, is not her own and if our own case is anything to go by, used without permission - making them illegal, derivative works.

Like any photographer, I can instantly recognise our work when I see it and it always feels physically upsetting coming across it being used in this way. I don't really have any means of identifying other photographers' images in this instance, as there are many, many images and a lot of them look very familiar to me but I don't necessarily know whose they are. The artist's website states that they have work in the Te Papa gift shop amongst other places.

I would be interested to hear from forum members if they think it is fair to post the artist's name and link to their work by way of a heads up to other photographers whose work may have been taken and used without their permission?

Melody Anderson
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Neil Fitzgerald
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby Neil Fitzgerald » Wed May 29, 2019 1:20 pm

I think it is fair to post a name and link. This is commonly done on photography fora. People can then decide for themselves whether there is any actual infringement.
Wayfarer
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby Wayfarer » Wed May 29, 2019 2:02 pm

https://anoushkaszybowski.weebly.com/gallery.html

(A web search may also produce other sites and work not listed here)
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hen
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby hen » Wed May 29, 2019 7:41 pm

Using photographs for artwork for profit or otherwise without permission of the photographer is illegal in many countries.

Below are the rules applicable in the USA. We were taught the same rules. Ignorance is not bliss. The artist should be instructed to remove all such paintings from all outlets immediately and feel lucky if not prosecuted in the process.

https://www.liveabout.com/may-i-make-a- ... ph-2573673. As hobby artist I always ask permission and where there is no reply or permission given, the photograph is not used - not even for private use.

hen
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby GrahameNZ » Thu May 30, 2019 8:30 am

The URL produces a 404
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melissab
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby melissab » Thu May 30, 2019 9:04 am

Hi Melody,

I thought I'd give my two cents on this because I am both an artist and photographer so I see this from both sides.
I have always taken my own photos and used only them for illustrating my birds. I would never use anyone else's photograph without permission. I know how much time and effort goes into bird photography and for someone else to benefit from your hard work monitarily is not fair, and infringing on your copyright.

I think as a rule most established artists understand they must ask for permission to use someone photos, but a lot of young or just-starting-out artists don't seem to know the rules (a lot just credit google for photo reference). It's very obvious when someone doesn't know their birds and just paints from google. There are so many 'NZ Kingfisher' paintings out there that are of the Eurasian Kingfishers not our Sacred Kingfisher, that's an easy to way to tell that someone is just googling images and using what pops up first.

Most artists that ask permission will offer you money to use your photo, or prints of their artwork in return for using your photo. That is the standard rule I think. Any exhibiting artist should know this. So I'm sorry this has happened to you, it must be frustrating.

I hope it doesn't deter you from wanting to share your photos, they are stunning!
Wayfarer
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby Wayfarer » Thu May 30, 2019 12:36 pm

Thanks for those perspectives and for the compliment Melissa :-). I did fire off some emails yesterday before posting here, so it looks like that has resulted in the artist disabling their website, at least for now. Instagram also responded to my copyright claim fairly quickly and removed some posts.

Hen, interestingly we have had hobbyists and amateurs ask for permission, but the last three cases we have discovered someone using our work in this way were all professionals selling their work and all art school trained. In this current example, the artist doesn't seem to be a newbie but graduated from art college 16 years ago. Back before the really big explosion of digital images and the availability that exists these days, which has possibly led to greater disregard for copyright. Even more concerning... they are also, apparently, the head of a high school art department!

I did used to think that art school graduates should know better but I'm actually wondering if rather than educating their students about copyright and the proper use of reference, could art schools in fact be encouraging, if not condoning it nowadays? I hope not.

I always think that when an artist shoots their own reference images it brings additional merit to the work, but I think like Melissa says, it's very difficult so many don't do it and take the easy route, but without asking for proper permission. In actual fact, even if an artist isn't a skilled photographer, it needn't necessarily be a barrier because for a photograph to be good enough for a reference it doesn't necessarily need to be of the same standard as a photographic image intended to stand on its on merits. We have tons of shots that are of no commercial or artistic value in and of themselves, but are still plenty good enough to use as references for my own bird illustrations. They don't even need to be in focus :lol:

I've seen the same examples with the Kingfishers also. Even found a well known NZ bird sanctuary using an image of a UK Kingfisher on their website page listing 'birds you can see here'...

Melody Anderson
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hen
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby hen » Thu May 30, 2019 7:22 pm

I believe most people involved with art and art studios know about copyrighted material, but some ignore the rules willingly or use permission inappropriately because they hope nobody will notice the infringement.

Good that you took action - lovely photographs. :roll: May I use them? (Only joking.)

hen

Here is an Australian link explaining the law on the matter more fully.
https://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/ent ... nt-or-not/
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hen
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby hen » Thu May 30, 2019 7:24 pm

https://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/ (entry/i-like-your-style-part-i-copyright-infringement-or-not/) - Take out the brackets and attach to the link. Maybe that will work.
Wayfarer
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Re: Copyright violations: Artists using photographers' images without permission

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 31, 2019 1:33 pm

:) Ha ha hen...

And thanks for posting that link.
John and Melody Anderson
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