Is this stealing?

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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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    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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    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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    Tristan Elwell
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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    The best thing is to only use pieces of photos that arent yours. A leg here an arm here, then you arent infringing copyright. The biggest thing is that you have to look at the picture. What is it portraying? If you find a picture of a guy with an umbrella on a balcony, and you draw the same guy with the same umbrella on the same balcony and give him a beard and put polkadots on the umbrella, its still portraying the same thing, and thus is stealing. But if you change the location and put the guy on the moon, its portraying something different and you have the right to call it your own.

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  16. #15
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    Usually if you're going to profit in some way (getting money or landing a job) by using material that's not free to use, you're usually asking for trouble.

    If you're looking for reference for studies, for a CHOW, for drawing homework, or anything that's pretty much for personal use, you can more or less use anything.

    Anyways that's my easy-to-remember version of copywrite shtuff. Just think; if someone took a photo of yours and put it on their desktop or copied it to make a drawing for a study, how mad would you get? Not much, more than likely. But what if they straight-up copied your photo and used it to win an art contest, get an art job by putting it in their portfolio or used it for a freelance job? The madness factor increases, and so does the illegality.

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    After reading this thread, many poeple that i know of take poses off of photographs. Just the pose and nothing else. Just a quick sketch from the pose and they fill in the rest. Is that illegal?

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    I've seen an porfessional artist use a photograph of a model that I'm sure was not his. I say you can use the photos for studies It would be better that way but copying thewhole picture or a the model without the artist recognition or maybe permision its not good. Because the models, they paid for them. and the Pictures that they take may heve been used for pay. So you using them for studies is O.K. you using them for your benifet. no no. the rule for copying other artist still aply for photographers to because there artist to. So if they taket the pose for commision bad if the photographers that cosider there work art leave that alone. I use draw animals or people of websites and magazines for gifts and stuff.

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  19. #18
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    l337, are you talking about the Afghanistani girl you painted?

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    I had a discussion awhile with another artist on another board. She sold work that was based on copyrighted photo's and paintings from other artists. I enquired her about it. She said it was okay because she didn't make reproductions of the painting she did and her work was what she called an "artist's impression" and that was allowed legally.

    But I'm still a little puzzled about it. An example of her artist's impression were paintings based on Vermeer's "Girl with a pearl earring" and Manet's "Olympia". The main differences were that she added a black and white checkerboard motif in the background in both works and she added colored textures on the white sheets of the original Olympia.

    Other examples were paintings based on photo's of old celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe but with the checkerboard background again. Another example was a painting which I'm pretty sure was from a national geographic photo of a troop of elephants, but with a different color scheme, I believe.

    I'm pretty sure above mentioned work wasn't intended to be a parody or a satire because it didn't seem to express any humor or commentary whatsoever. So aside from my opinion whether these artistic additions are all that inspired or really neccesary, what's the deal on the moral and legal implications of work like this? Would it still fall under fair use somehow?

    My Self-Portraits

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    MidgardSerpent,

    Her copies of "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and "Olympia" are perfectly fine and it is ok for this girl to sell them. This is because the copyrights on these images have long run out and the images are now in the public domain.

    The copies of celebrity and Nat'l Geographic photos are probably not ok, since those images are probably still under copyright.

    I have never heard of the concept of "artist's impression" that she talks about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emily g View Post
    MidgardSerpent,

    Her copies of "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and "Olympia" are perfectly fine and it is ok for this girl to sell them. This is because the copyrights on these images have long run out and the images are now in the public domain.
    Ah ok, a bit like what Disney does with fairy tales.



    The copies of celebrity and Nat'l Geographic photos are probably not ok, since those images are probably still under copyright.

    I have never heard of the concept of "artist's impression" that she talks about.
    Well, that's the term she used. I think she was trying to say that her paintings weren't a point for point copy of the original work. But adding a checkerboard background doesn't seem that impressive of an interpretation to me.


    What about a collage of several different (copyrighted) sources like photo's and paintings? Or would that fall under fair use because it could be considered as a commentary?




    Thanks for replying.

    My Self-Portraits

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    Take your own photographs!

    Good heavens, get of your butts and take your own photographs!

    Can't afford to pay one, use your friends. Go to the zoo to photograph the animals. If you want to paint a pretty face from anothers photo, learn how to do glamour photos of your own. You wanna nude, tough, until you are old enough to afford one.

    I always took my own photos for my illustrations, paid the models, bought the costumes.

    If you need a picture of a thatched hut from Fiji or a rare snake or bird you can crib that. Details.

    I made little sets from miniature plants and houses for backgrounds. I did Jem's record company that way.

    Proffesional illustrators, the good ones at any rate, ALWAYS use their own resource material.

    When I was a beginner showing my stuff someone noticed that I copied a figure from a magazine and was told NOT to do it as it was amateurish. That was in NY. and I wanted to disappear.

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    Be Original!

    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.
    It depends on what he used. Most pros have files for unobtainable material. He probably used some of the dinosaur reconstructions for reference as that would be the only way to get that kind of material unless he has a time machine. . In other words he made a completely NEW ORIGINAL painting from that material. He did not steal a picture and photoshop it or copy it with some changes. I have seen examples here of 'borrowed' photos photoshopped to death. That is kinda, sorta lazy. Rather like fish feeding on fish in a small pond, no fresh source of information. Stagnation.

    Seedling and Emily G. are right on.

    Nothing gives your work more personal style and originality than to be able to use your own material. Otherwise all the work starts to look alike if everyone is doing the same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sharon Knettell View Post
    It depends on what he used. Most pros have files for unobtainable material. He probably used some of the dinosaur reconstructions for reference as that would be the only way to get that kind of material unless he has a time machine. . In other words he made a completely NEW ORIGINAL painting from that material. He did not steal a picture and photoshop it or copy it with some changes. I have seen examples here of 'borrowed' photos photoshopped to death. That is kinda, sorta lazy. Rather like fish feeding on fish in a small pond, no fresh source of information. Stagnation.
    Seeing as Gurney has also done illustrations for National Geographic, he may have had permission to use Nat Geo photos as a source.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharon Knettell View Post
    Good heavens, get of your butts and take your own photographs!
    Seconded!

    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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    I'm quite confused on this issue too!

    Type 1:
    There are many photos which are very unique indeed. When you see a drawing you will know it is obviously copying from that photo.

    Type 2:
    But tons of photos are not so special anyway e.g. a girl in a swimsuit on a beach, a girl sitting on a sofa. Many fashion photos are in similar poses too. If an artist draws something like this it will probably look similar to an existing photo whether a photo reference is used or not. Will an artist be charged for stealing something he has never seen (but look really similar)? Is it not safe to do something general (e.g. a girl standing on a beach with the sea in the bg)? If similar poses are illegal, then it is risky because most poses have already been taken or drawn before......

    Type 3:
    Most cases are between Type 1 and 2.

    Legally are there differences in the above cases? Any advices are appreciated!

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    Quote Originally Posted by _ J View Post
    I'm quite confused on this issue too!

    Type 1:
    There are many photos which are very unique indeed. When you see a drawing you will know it is obviously copying from that photo.

    Type 2:
    But tons of photos are not so special anyway e.g. a girl in a swimsuit on a beach, a girl sitting on a sofa. Many fashion photos are in similar poses too. If an artist draws something like this it will probably look similar to an existing photo whether a photo reference is used or not. Will an artist be charged for stealing something he has never seen (but look really similar)? Is it not safe to do something general (e.g. a girl standing on a beach with the sea in the bg)? If similar poses are illegal, then it is risky because most poses have already been taken or drawn before......

    Type 3:
    Most cases are between Type 1 and 2.

    Legally are there differences in the above cases? Any advices are appreciated!

    If it is not special, why use it?

    Stop worrying about whether it is legal or not legal and start building your own file of your photographs.


    If you had a POINT OF VIEW you could pose those girls in entirely different ways. For example you could shoot the girl on the beach late in the afternoon facing the sea or facing you depending on the story you want to tell. She could have dreadlocks or Swedish blond hair. She could be nude, crying, wearing military gear, dancing, weeping in agony or leaping for joy.

    Are you looking at the girl on the couch straight on or from above. Is she reading a book, curled up, flopped, sleeping or anxious. Is the girl in jeans, a dress, victorian gown, nightgown or evening wear. Is the couch shabby,modern, old-fashioned, striped, floral or velvet.

    I did fashion illustration for many years and yes some of the poses are basic, but many change with the time and outfits. I would do a more aggresive stance for a hip-hop type of outfit, than I would for a ballgown. No not ALL the poses are taken.

    What do want to do with these? A portfolio?

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    I don't get what you do with the photos.

    I use photos when I'm drawing a portrait of someone, but that's about it. If it's reference it's fine, though. I think it would be different if you copied a piece of art rather than a photo of someone/thing (unless the photo was an original work). So, basically, don't copy anyone's work, but you can use photos to copy poses/people/nature/animals, and all that good stuff.

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    Ok, I'm more a photographer then anything, I have picture in magazines for which I've been paid. So here is my 2 cents from the other side.

    1. Posting a reference photo & one of your pic is a good idea to show us what your refining too (You can paint one of my pics for this excercise - see link below). That way we can quickly tell you if you have a issue or not.

    2. My general rule of thumb is if you show the painting to someone at random and they can "pick out of a crowd" which photo you referenced due to unique features or arrangement, then its copy right infringement. If your not making money at it or for a portfolio then its fair use, but if your making money off the paintings... watch out if the photographer comes across it!

    2b. Note the exceptions to the rule is places of interest & recognizable objects, like the Statue of Liberty, there are so many pictures from so many angles, you show me 50 pic and your painting and it could be from any one of them.

    MC

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    I think it depends on how much you are using of the picture. Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's freely available for any use. You should review the copyright laws from the link Elwell provided.

    There is some work that's in public domain that can be used and government pictures are generally considered public domain as well. You may also want to visit http://creativecommons.org/ where you can find images available with different rights.

    But it's better to do your research on the useage first because if someone brings a copyright infringement suit against you it can get very costly.

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    A. Thank you for the feedback!

    B. According to the discussion I read here and others I have seen, some people are of the opinion that same pose as a photo ref is no problem. Others more or less say whenever you don’t own a photo then don’t use it at all.

    I think the difference is due to different interpretations of what copyrights include. If a person takes a photo of a girl sitting on a sofa, what copyrights are included and protected?
    1. a girl sitting on a sofa, with exactly the same clothes, hair, furniture etc, in exactly the same camera angle?
    2. same as 1, but include any clothes, any hair style and color?
    3. same as 2, but include all possible camera angles?
    4. same as 3, but include male
    5. same as 4, but include all possible croppings
    and so on……
    6. in the extreme, it can mean a person (male or female) sitting on anything in any camera angle in any bg!

    C. In my case. I want to do fashion illustrations which are more or less like fashion photos, includes a girl and a pose, some accessories etc. So I want to know more about this. Say if I want to draw a girl holding a handbag, there are not too many ways to draw it, most have been taken in photos already. There may be say 50 major ways of doing it and all others will look close to the 50 ways. It is hard to draw a pose which is significantly different from what has been done by all others before. If I can, the pose does not necessarily look good (that is the reason why something special is not done).

    I'm not sure whether this is an important concern or not, so I want to know you guys and gals' views, thanks!

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