Every week I find myself explaining to one person or another about copyright and what it’s for. And people just don’t seem to get it. Quickly looking in the dictionary gets you the following definition:
the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same: he issued a writ for breach of copyright | works whose copyrights had lapsed.
• a particular literary, artistic, or musical work that is covered by copyright.
protected by copyright: permission to reproduce photographs and other copyright material.
verb [ with obj. ] secure copyright for (material).
So, is it a fuzzy concept? “The exclusive legal right….” It covers the gamut too. Somehow though folks just don’t seem to get it in many arenas.
Recently a potential client came in to see me about doing a reproduction for them. They’d purchased an image in another town at another gallery. And they wanted to make a larger version of the image for use in their home. I looked close at the image, saw a copyright on it and asked them to re-explain how they had come by the image. Bought in another store selling art work……. Okay…… So, who was the artist.
At this point the client got a little frustrated and asked what the problem was. I pointed out the copyright and said that I could not reproduce someone’s work without their permission. The concept didn’t sit well with the client or her husband. “It’s not like we’re going to resell it to somebody else. Sheesh, it’s like making a copy of a song, no big deal.” That was the husband’s statement to a T.
I whipped around to my handy Mac and looked up the artist. Sure enough they’re alive and kicking. And they’ve got a company that resells their artwork. If I were to image and reproduce their image I would in fact be depriving them of income that they are legally entitled to for reproductions of their work.
My final suggestion? I got the artist’s number and gave it to the clients. I recommended they call the artist and see if they can get what they want in the size they wanted, or to see if I could do the reproduction for the artist and make sure the artist received payment for their work. Bottom line, that ended the conversation.
Well, I’m off to the library now to Xerox every book I’ve ever wanted in my personal collection! Wish me luck!