Using film/character inspiration for oil paintings

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  1. #1
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    Using film/character inspiration for oil paintings

    Following on from some other discussions about making money from selling oil paintings and the like, I had a pretty simple question on legality.

    Say I was to pick a famous movie scene, quote or character from a novel etc... as in inspiration for a painting with the view to selling that painting would I get into trouble over copyright infringement?

    As some examples and only for argument's sake

    How about if I did a painting of the starship enterprise and tried to sell it?
    What if I re-imagined the enterprise but it was still of the ilk - i.e. had a disc for the main part etc... etc...
    How about if I did a portrait of a famous actor from a movie scene and it could be placed to that scene?
    Or what if I were to do a scene from lord of the rings or took another book as inspiration?

    I'm guessing that straight up doing a painting of batman would be a no no... but there appear to be some grey in my mind? Where do you draw the line on orcs and elves etc... etc...

    I know that in photography the creator of the work has copyright - so in the case of photographing someone, provided you were on public land when doing so - the person who you took a photo of might get annoyed but YOU own the copyright to said photo.

    What happens if you re-interpret or re-imagine something that is recognisable? Like painting a jedi warrior or some such.

    Thanks!

    K

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  3. #2
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    As I understand it, anything goes if you're just selling a one-off original. It's only when you're distributing it en masse to the public that copyright kicks in. If I'm wrong or if there are subtleties I missed, hopefully somebody will say so.

    This probably only applies for private commissions though - I mean, if you do paintings of Batman and set up an eBay page to sell them, even though they're originals, you're entering the public domain with them, so might run into legal problems.

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  4. #3
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    Hey thanks for that - interesting...

    I'll do some more research on the idea - it's just brewing at the moment. No firm plans or anything like that - gotta get me a proper job first anyhow!

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    @Darkstrider Does that mean if someone contacted you for a private piece and they wanted a famous character doing, you would be allowed to do that? or am I misunderstanding what you mean?

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    You shouldn't really care because you could drop dead at any moment. The original owner of the work itself, will let you know. It only a big deal, if their is limited space for the market, or you are making a living off it. Like your work is appearing along side their work, in a major outlet. Just do not pass yourself off, as the artist. Their are tons of "original works" being sold in major store outlets, like hot cakes, that are "suppose" to be the actual work, but are not in anyway at all.

    Last edited by REMIL; April 24th, 2014 at 09:43 PM.
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    This says it all I believe.
    Name:  mickeyrat1.jpg
Views: 178
Size:  353.7 KB

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  8. #7
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    That's terrifying! haha

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  9. #8
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    this is worth watching,from a lawyer that defends IP
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKBsTUjd910

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  11. #9
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    Oh sorry - I didn't see this till just now:

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen H View Post
    @Darkstrider Does that mean if someone contacted you for a private piece and they wanted a famous character doing, you would be allowed to do that? or am I misunderstanding what you mean?
    Have you seen Jeff Lafferty sketchbook (link)? He paints up stills from well known movies and sells them as original art pieces. Frames from Raiders of the Lost Arc, Star Wars, Gone With the Wind etc. Because he's selling them as one-offs I believe it's totally legal and above board. I've also seen threads on other art board where artists are commissioned to paint famous characters. I remember Sanjulian did an awesome Doc Savage oil that was not only a trademarked character, but specifically in a James Bama style. But see, it's not being mass produced or sold in quantity anywhere, just to an individual collector or buyer, to hang on his wall. So why would the copyright holders even care?

    EDIT -

    I found a video on his youtube channel where Jeff talks about copyright (and how he hates talking about it lol!): http://youtu.be/u9_0umrwnc8?t=10m50s. He starts on that subject at right about 10min 50 seconds in - the link should go right to it. I assumed he had researched it thoroughly but apparently he's not really sure what's legal and what's not, but he has some really strong opinions about it! Sorry, I know this isn't very helpful, but I think it illustrates that what we're talking about is very much a legal grey zone - there's a lot of controversy about what's really legal. From what he says and from some comments under the video it sounds like most copyright owners just won't go after you, but if they want to they can and there's no telling how it could go in court. So stay away from Disney properties! .. Which makes me wonder if they're now going aggressively after people using Marvel characters?

    I hope Jeff doesn't mind me posting this since I'm just repeating what he said in the video.

    Last edited by Darkstrider; June 21st, 2014 at 08:54 PM.
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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkstrider View Post
    Oh sorry - I didn't see this till just now:



    Have you seen Jeff Lafferty sketchbook (link)? He paints up stills from well known movies and sells them as original art pieces. Frames from Raiders of the Lost Arc, Star Wars, Gone With the Wind etc. Because he's selling them as one-offs I believe it's totally legal and above board. I've also seen threads on other art board where artists are commissioned to paint famous characters. I remember Sanjulian did an awesome Doc Savage oil that was not only a trademarked character, but specifically in a James Bama style. But see, it's not being mass produced or sold in quantity anywhere, just to an individual collector or buyer, to hang on his wall. So why would the copyright holders even care?

    Its wrong because its stealing income from the original creator that's why. Who gives a fuck if someone else is doing it and making money. People deal drugs, rob people, banks and do all kinds of other morally bankrupt things. So the moral precept you're advocating is if you can get away with it, its okay?
    Stealing other artists work for your own financial gain is the moral artistic equivalent of selling street blowjobs. No artist with any self respect does it and or makes a career out of it.

    Edit:

    Jeff Lafferty is the lowest form of artist there is, and you can see it reflected in the prices he gets. All art is to him is being a wrist copying other peoples hard work and creativity. They have done all the heavy lifting designing and he comes in and acts like a crappy human printing machine.

    Last edited by dpaint; June 21st, 2014 at 09:48 PM.
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  13. #11
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    Whoah hold on now! I didn't make any claims one way or the other - I don't know copyright law. All I did was said that I've seen artists doing it, and therefore I guess it must be legal, or at least they must think so. And I did say in the post before that one "If I'm wrong or if there are subtleties I missed, hopefully somebody will say so", so no reason to come at me so aggressively. Do you know the legalities on this issue? Hopefully somebody who does can say a few things, because so far it's just been people like me saying what they think is the case and stating that that's all it is - what they believe is true. If you want to talk morality that's a whole different issue - I thought this thread was about legality.

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  14. #12
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    So you erased your post? I'll respond anyway. The legal issue is this, copyright states implicitly that all rights belong to the creator including the right to make derivative work. You can't legally take someones work and sell it as your own, ever. The fact people do it and no one sues them doesn't make it legal. The fact someone does it and no one challenges them doesn't make it legal either.

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  15. #13
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    I didn't erase anything. I've watched about half of the video you posted now (thanks for that, it's very informative). This is obviously a very contentious issue, and it's not something I know much about or have researched, so I'll bow out of the discussion now and say - don''t listen to anything I've said, watch the video instead! And for anything beyond that, hire a lawyer!

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