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  1. #1
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    Is this stealing?

    I get on google, yahoo, and type in a subject matter I want to paint/draw. So I save that random photograph not knowing where it is on my computer and go at it. The finished piece is now under my name and I want to enter it into a competition. Is this stealing? I am not sure, I have always thought that most professionals do the same as me.

    I am posting this because I have always used photographs that I don't own. But, they are posted freely on the internet so why not? I feel kind of hesitant at first but then I realize there is no way of me finding a legit picture to paint unless I take a photograph which is very difficult for me because I do not own a good digital camera.
    Maybe I am just rambling but I was kind of curious to where everyone gets their reference pictures and what they thought about this.

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  3. #2
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    Stealing? Not at all.



    Copyright infringement? Perhaps; I'm no legal expert. But the way I see it, it should be fine as long as you credit the original author. After all, this is the case with stories and essays. If possible, try to contact the author and obtain permission.

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  4. #3
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    As long as enough changes were made, that it becomes more of your own than the original photograph. A lot of artists use reference photographs but most are careful not to make it too similar.

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  5. #4
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    The original photographer owns the copyright on that photo, and you should not use it without his/her permission, unless your piece looks WAY different from the original.

    Many artists do look at photographs for reference (like I look at several photos of tigers if I want to draw a tiger), but it is usually NOT ok to just select one photo and copy it exactly. The only way this is ok is if you did it just for practice and clearly state that you referenced a photo.

    But, they are posted freely on the internet so why not?
    Just because a photo is posted on the internet does not mean that it is copyright-free, available for anyone to take. If you post a copy of your artwork on the internet, you are not giving it away freely to the world to take, you still own the copyright.

    Think of it like this--a photographer is an artist too, and he/she went to a lot of work to capture that shot. He/she owns that image and the copyright, just like you own your artwork and the copyright.

    I would not enter this in a competition, unless it is a high school competition where it is generally understood that you are a student and this kind of thing is more acceptable.

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  6. #5
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    Tristan Elwell
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  7. #6
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    I only use things off the internet to do quick studies (such as human figures, flowers, et cetera). I never do a finished piece off of the photos because I don't see the point.

    If you are using it as a reference for a finished piece then that is fine so long as your finished piece doesn't turn into your "reference".

    The only times I have used pictures directly was in some insane photo manipulation I was trying where you build pictures out of textures and things like that. The textures were all free to use pictures so no problem with that. i did a poster of my favorite band one time for a digital art class but all of the band photos I used I asked direct permission from the photographer (I contacted him on email) and then sent him a photo of the finished print. He was pretty excited about it.

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  8. #7
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    No, this is not something that professionals do. “Crediting the author” will not get you out of trouble. If you want to copy someone else’s photographs for fun or as a learning exercise, great, but (as the general rule-of-thumb for copyright goes) you are not permitted to use someone else’s art in a manner that makes money for yourself or prevents the author from making money. Submitting such an image to a competition is shady, and the legality of doing so probably hinges on how big a contest this is. But at the very least, submitting such an image is unfair to the other artists who submit art to the competition, who are likely not using such a crutch.

    Just because an image is in public view does not mean you can use it however you please.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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  9. #8
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    If you are making a copy of the photograph don't. It is copyright infringement. If you are using the reference just as reference that is fine.

    For example if you decide you want to make a picture of a marine with an M-16 you find just such a picture and make a copy of it in oil paints, that's bad. If you decide you want to draw a picture of a three headed squid man holding an M-16 but don't really know how to draw an M-16 off hand and use a photo as reference thats is fair.

    There are a couple of web sites with royalty free images out there as well.

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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling View Post
    No, this is not something that professionals do.
    I disagree...some professionals do. For example, in James Gurney's Dinotopia book, I found at least 2 pictures that were ripped straight from old photographs in National Geographic. Don't know if he did ask permission or gave credit, but I recognized the pictures right away as being similar to the ones in the magazine.

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  11. #10
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    hmmm ive been getting into this issue in my work, where for a recent show i used models on the internet as a concept for a series of paintings.

    the whole point of the series of paintings was that i used internet eroticism and elevated it into 'high-art' status with painting, hoping to raise questions of what we percieve as a heirarchy of visual mediums. (see link in sig for pics of the show)

    while i took great liberties in changing the presentation and style, it remains an obvious reference to the form which the photographers copyrighted in their works.

    so such references for me are 'student work' used for the purposes of learning and are not for sale as i do not want legal recourse to make it look like i'm profiting off of someone elses intellectual and artistic properties. this is my half-ased way of defending my literal 'ripping off' of another artists idea, and if they so desire i will destroy any representation of their work that i have created upon their request.

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  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowwing View Post
    I disagree...some professionals do. For example, in James Gurney's Dinotopia book, I found at least 2 pictures that were ripped straight from old photographs in National Geographic. Don't know if he did ask permission or gave credit, but I recognized the pictures right away as being similar to the ones in the magazine.

    Oh really? Now I'm curious. Which ones? Are they small elements of a larger image, or the dominant theme of the image?

    (I will point out that moooost of his work is not done this way, and had he relied on copying photos he never would have been able to make Dinotopia.)

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grief View Post
    hmmm ive been getting into this issue in my work, where for a recent show i used models on the internet as a concept for a series of paintings.

    the whole point of the series of paintings was that i used internet eroticism and elevated it into 'high-art' status with painting, hoping to raise questions of what we percieve as a heirarchy of visual mediums. (see link in sig for pics of the show)

    while i took great liberties in changing the presentation and style, it remains an obvious reference to the form which the photographers copyrighted in their works.

    so such references for me are 'student work' used for the purposes of learning and are not for sale as i do not want legal recourse to make it look like i'm profiting off of someone elses intellectual and artistic properties. this is my half-ased way of defending my literal 'ripping off' of another artists idea, and if they so desire i will destroy any representation of their work that i have created upon their request.
    That should fall under Fair Use. You can use a copyrighted work for purposes of commentary and parody. What you describe should legally be in the clear.


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  14. #13
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    Seeing as you're not stealing actual artwork or artist ideas, but rather sketching/painting and using a googl'd image as reference...

    It's aawwwwriiight.

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