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Copying artwork then selling it for profit

Journal Entry: Sat Feb 7, 2015, 11:31 AM

note: Please, if you're going to debate, be courteous and have basic manners, and not turn this into a typical internet argument. 
I'll probably delete this if this blows up badly, since I just want to iterate this one thing; so please, be courteous. 

I didn't think I needed to address this at all, actually, but here we are. Please also note, I'm not here to debate with you (edit: Unless you have read all of this very carefully and not just skimmed it like some of you debaters are doing). If you think that it's okay to copy or redraw and then sell the copied art, that's great, please take it up in your own journal or maybe even the forums; i'm sure you'll find a lot of people to debate with there :). There's been drama a'brewin' somewhere, don't bring it here, because my issue isn't with the artist in question anymore (for the most part...), but rather with the fans (some who are decent artists themselves so i'm more baffled about that) who think that the artist did nothing wrong at all.
I'm actually extremely baffled and disappointed with the amount of people who are glossing over or are okay the most important part of this whole issue - selling practice-art which they copied for practice, and I think that's definitely a problem.

Referencing has always been a part of art. We call it "Master Studies", where you take a master's painting like Bouguereau's paintings, and then do your own copy to see parts of how he did it, and through that process, we learn about how they achieved the best skin-tones, cloth folds, etc etc. Master-studying has never been a problem in the art community. This is an extremely good exercise and I have done it many times myself, but...

...passing it off as your own and selling it is not right, even if you copy it in your style or "made it better". This is called PlagiarismPlease don't think so cheaply of artists who create their own composition, pose, and lighting (ie. the original artists and animators people are ripping off of) which makes up a lot of an artwork. You can reference different sources of material to make up one artwork, but that also takes a lot of work and skill, since complete compositions don't just fall into our laps. Just imagine if someone took one of your art, copied pretty much everything, rendered it in their style, and then sold it without ever once mentioning you. Would you really be okay with that? Personally, my biggest issue is with the selling part of this whole thing. Offering incentives to be paid to do these studies also don't sit well with me, since that's also basically still selling copied-art. *sigh* but i won't go into that, since it'll depend on if people still do it or not.

Do these people who support copying-and-selling even know how difficult it is to create a concept and compose the artwork? I've seen artists go through a lot of thumbnail sketches for one picture, and another set of thumbnails for different colour/lighting that would suit it best; it can take so much time and effort. To bypass that, copy their work and making a profit off of them without even acknowledging them is basically spitting on their hard work, and that's not okay in my books. 

and for people saying that people also sell cover-songs, i'd like to point out that a lot of them have permission or have bought licenses from the music companies that represent the original artists. There have actually been several lawsuits over the years because a song is way too similar to another, you can google it for yourself.

Honestly at first, I didn't even think this needed to be addressed, and I'm so SO disappointed in the online art community right now that I actually have to address it at all

edit: There seems to be another thing people are unsure of: selling fanart. First, I'd like to say that if your art is an pretty much a copy of a screenshot or official art that's rendered more, that is no longer just fan art; it's a copied-art or simply a re-draw. Second, with fanart, yes, they are illegal to sell with north american companies (and probalby europe). That's why when you submit into the fanart category on dA, there is no print selection available. Disney is probably the biggest enforcer of this law out of any other company in NA. The reason why fan-artists aren't all sued off their asses by american companies is because these companies don't think fan-merchandise make enough money to impact their business, but that's why at conventions, there are often rules like "no more than 100 copies of one fanart allowed", and at certain conventions, any disney and disney-related (ie. marvel, pixar) fan-franchises are banned. Disney has even sued a kindergarden for having an unofficial disney mural, and they've also sued a couple who were making money doing birthday parties while dressed up as disney characters. Yeah, huge-corporation disney sued a couple for 2 million dollars, just think about that. So yes, legally, it's also not allowed, though the gray-areas are created when companies don't enforce the law; but if they did, a lot of people would lose a lot of money....
Now when it comes to japanese companies, the law is a lot more loose, since a lot of japanese companies condone it and there are professionals who do doujins and sell them at comiket (one of the largest japanese doujin conventions), but even there you will not find artists selling redraws for the most part.  

:bulletred::bulletred::bulletred::bulletred::bulletred: Important edit:

People are either confused about what I mean when I say copy or they just think copying for profit is okay, but whatever the case, I'm going to show an example of what I mean by using another artists' redraw. This artist is actually amazing and doesn't do these for profit, but just for practice, which is awesome and i think totally okay:

Robin Hood and Maid Marian by Murph3

Now imagine doing that, but leave out the fact that it was a repaint and then selling it. That's what I mean by copying and selling. geezus. i'm already tired. 

Add a Comment:
Octahazer Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2017  Hobbyist Artist
I have a question! What about those bases that allow permission to use it for selling stuff, is that okay? I'm asking because I do that and if that's a bad thing I want to refund everyone. But I don't copy people. I use bases. I want to ask is all!
tonetonix Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2015  Professional Photographer
Cool … Art imitates art.
AdriennEcsedi Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have seen this too. It turned out that someone from the family of my husband is making such practice paintings. She copies already deceased artists traditional artworks, give it to a gallery and if it sells it sells. I was so shocked when I heared that. I told her that I think this is not right, that is not her own idea, she just copied it. And it is not right to sell it even if the artist is not here anymore. They make them copy old artists works at the artschool. Which is ok, but selling it is not ethical I think. She wasn't even aware of this which is sad. If a child doesn't know this that is a thing, but someone from an artschool? I wonder what they teach them there about these things.

So yes, it is not right copying and selling an other artists work. It took that artist many years of hard working and more hours to make that one painting.

Value his/her work please and learn from it. You can then sell your own artworks, your own ideas - and that will give you such happiness and satisfaction, you will see.
karniz Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A-to-the-effing-men. So eloquently put Qinni.
I always love your level-headed discussions on matters.

But honestly I loved reading the whole "but then what about people who draw fanart?!" arguments. /sighs
I love how many don't understand the difference in traced/copied/referenced illustrations and those of original concepts...
Especially as a person who has her art [mainly the fanart] eye-traced and redrawn and then posted on Tumblr/deviantART and such with no credit whatsoever given towards me...
I can now see where all of these justifications are coming from...

And don't get me started on reporting these kind of things on deviantART...
It's like the people in charge don't care? Gruuh.

Anywho, I can +fav journals, right? I'm putting so much love on this. ^w^;;
Azurewhiterose Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Student Digital Artist
I agree with everything you said. Makes perfect sense. ;u;
Adorael Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2015   Digital Artist
Another sad thing is that often clients will ask for rip-offs, I have been asked to draw a client's game characters in kung fu panda poses and even style, or shown reference images only to realize that they wanted exactly that, not only a vague resemblance :C
MikazukiShigure Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015
I remember the case of a certain visual novel in Japan where the artist swapped the same pose from different works of other ppl, his drawing design/composition is not the same. He got fired by the company, no excuses.  In the U.S. i'm not sure if ppl have the same attitude towards such behavior, i have seen unjust cases happen and it is really sad. 

Practicing is a good thing, but selling that practice piece without seeking permission first is an offense to the original artist who did the hard work planning the whole design.  
sozo-teki Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015  Student Digital Artist
I i wish that someone could tell that russian website to stop stealing my artwork and slapping their label on it.
Count-Hoshioni Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I think Itd be ok if the artist was honest about the repaint part .
Zabbas Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015
I would have to say I agree wholeheartedly. Also wanted to add that your artwork is beautiful and I wish you success in your artistic endeavors.
cielseason Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015
I just love your paintings no thoughts for profit.Sorry,my English is poor.
Artgoon Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015
One of those white knights you were talking about but my white knighted was aimed at internet bullying. No doubt he was wrong as is anyone making Elsa pillows and coffee mugs on Society6 and using copy written character to make a profit. The hypocrisy struck a nerve with me as the "white knighting" struck one with you. At the same time no point to kick the guy so low where he wanted to do something to himself. I'm sure this is a lesson he will never forget. I also hope that artist who have a large audience realize the influence they have and responsibility. I couldn't believe some artist that were so quick to say call him out yet conveniently neglected to bring up their own wrong doing in copy write infringement. Anyway I hope you didn't find this offensive because my intent wasn't to debate with you as I agree. I think for the community to change more of this has to be brought to light on what is acceptable and what isn't.
Avoice Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015   General Artist
As an artist who lives in Japan,  Japan is actually really funky in the way of fanart and doujins.  Big conventions like comike is acceptable to sell such stuff, but when it comes to the title of stance of an artist, it is kinda frowned upon. More over, it is all just for fun.  Most of the stuff that is being sold is at really low prices that the artist themselves dont get much profit. Also, Fanart and doujins are ONLY sold at comike,  never would an artist sell these works outside of these conventions.  I have never seen any fanart and such at art markets and big art events. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of laws against this stuff here,  more that it is common sense not to do it and sell it.  
hyunit Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I agree with your points completely. I felt like the whole drama blew up even though people didn't really understand the core of the problem being selling copied studies. But that seems completely normal when it comes to internet drama... pitchforking without knowing exactly why.

I'm curious about your point on fanart though. I didn't know it's technically illegal, since ppl sell it a lot at cons and even in online stores (storenvy etc). In fact it seems like fanart stuff sell a lot better than original things. You said companies don't care because the income ain't too high, but aren't there any exceptions? I know ppl like Artgerm or Sakimichan do quite a lot of fanart and sell them. Esp Sakimichan's Patreon is like really high on the site. Won't she get in trouble since most of her portraits are existing characters?
Eledora Featured By Owner Edited Feb 9, 2015
Ahh I actually would think that it was more about the issue the said artist not crediting their original sources at all (because yeah that's pretty morally wrong...?), rather than about selling screenshot style redraws for money or not /owo 

I guess I got the impression that it's not illegal to do so because I have seen one professional artist in Hong Kong doing something like that? They created a series of one-page comic strips that are basically redraws of scenes from popular movies, and totally put them on their art show, and even sold the original pieces as well -w-; They did credited all the movies they used for the comics but I doubt if they really asked for copyrights from the creators, since it wasn't mentioned anywhere...

I guess it's a bit different to draw from movie scenes than copying screenshots, but still, the "fanarts" totally got sold at $1k+ owo;
kuroitenshi13 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Professional General Artist
sockstealingnome Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015
Here's my distinction: creating redraws with the intention to sell? Not okay. Creating one and then someone liked it so much they offered to buy it? Okay.
carouselclover Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Student General Artist
It might be nice to know that someone offered to buy it, but it's still not entirely your property when you redraw an image. I recently did a Sailor Moon screencap redraw, and I would never sell it - even if someone liked it enough to buy it. I might offer to create another piece that had some things in common - the color choices, the style, another magical girl. But because I did not create the composition and come up with the character design, I have no right to sell the image. 
sockstealingnome Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015
It may not be original but you did take the time to create it. If you credited back to the artist and someone still wanted to buy it, I don't think it's wrong to sell.
carouselclover Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2015  Student General Artist
You've just said it yourself - you had to credit it back to the original artist. That means the credit and any profit from creating it goes to them and not the person using it to redraw or recreate. Think of it as fanfiction. Do you think that J.K. Rowling would be happy about someone selling Harry Potter fanfiction, even if everyone does know she's the author?
sockstealingnome Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2015
I honestly think JK Rowling wouldn't care.
carouselclover Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Student General Artist
Honestly, she does. People are not allowed to sell fanfiction, unless explicitly stated by the author. 
anakure Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think copy or use others work as reference for practice in your art skills or when you make a fanart about a artwork you admire. But I disagree if you steal the work of other, for profit purposes.
dreamarian Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Professional General Artist
Why did I read the comments? WHY?
I'm with you.
InsanelyCute Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Art studies being labelled as such and with a reference is ok, at least for me. Copying artwork is an ambivalent thing, to put it mildly. But plagiarism and / or making money of it is an absolute no-go. And not just from the moral point of view. It is legally forbidden if someone holds the copyright and owns the thing like the above. From what I know Disney can get VERY assertive in such a case. And even if someone is just a hobbyist: stealing is still stealing, whether from a pro or not. But those who do just have no bad conscience and will continue, I'm afraid.

Greetings from InsanelyCute
kate-n-bd Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015
Well said though I start to believe that no logical arguments will convince people that are ok with that situation that this is just plain wrong. This is so disappointing.
elotta Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Well said. I completely agree with everything  you said here! I'm very happy you wrote this journal and hope you won't need to delete it.
annaoi Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's why I never include fan art in my commission options. 
Anmaril Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Totally agree.
happypiggy Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015
What's your opinion on those anime screenshot redraw memes?
People already know it's a redraw, but if they tried to sell it that would still be bad, right?
Also technically speaking, people redrawing/heavily referencing classic paintings and then selling them is fine due to not violating copyright, correct?
Just curious, sorry about the questions ^^;
Qinni Featured By Owner Edited Feb 8, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, i think even if people know it's a redraw, to try and sell it is also pretty bad. and PorcelainCrown answer the other question :D
PorcelainCrown Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I could answer your second question. Copyright has an 80 yrs life period. Meaning that after those 80 yrs, your copyright will automatically become public domain. Meaning anyone can make money off of it. 
mhummelt Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015  Student General Artist
well yeah but technically the first person to make a copy of such a painting holds the copyright to his own painting and since copyright-law doesn't care about having knowledge of something thats almost identical redrawing said original painting would infringe on the first copyiers copyright. Sounds stupid and that person would probably not sue anybody for copying the same picture, but it still makes it a gray zone. It's kinda stupid in my opinion and if I'm wrong plese correct me but thats what I learned in my design law class.
PorcelainCrown Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm actually not sure, is this US copyright law? Maybe it's different in your country?  
mhummelt Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015  Student General Artist
I believe it was in the Berne Convention there is no "Copyright" in Germany it's handled somewhat different through the "Urheberrecht" here. (The main difference is that the creator of the work can never lose his Uhrheberrecht or give it away) Though the same case would aply here too. As a copy of something thats considered only "marginaly different", no matter if the artist knew about this other work beforehand or not is an infringement on copyright. This is important becouse otherwise you could simply state that you didn't know about the other work. Also when a piece of art is no longer protected by copyright law because of its age, the death of the artist or whatever cause aplies to any other country a new copy of it would obviously not be an infringement on said copyright thus it must be considered as a new piece of art that holds it's own copyright.

However it's very unlikely that anyone would sue you in such a case, its just an abstruse situation we pointed out during our class.
PorcelainCrown Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
sorry for the late reply. 

wow, that's a some cool info. thanks for that.
RubixPsyche Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
... o.0 Well then. That changes things.
PorcelainCrown Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
true, but most things fade into memory and people will probably find something else to make money off of that is current with the times.
RubixPsyche Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good enough.
Thought Dragonsteai and rickroll shall nvr die (Yea Im not making sense)
Jaz212 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I belive you have a fair grasp of this complicated subject. This is a well writen argument, and as you have stated may have different implications in different countries. Many times we as individuals forget that laws vary greatly from country to country. Just look at import and export laws as an example. 

I am not sure if you have decided to leave things as they are for this post as you appear to have received some emotional and less than productive responses. Your last edit adding the visual example is great, adding similar examples through out may strengthen your points. Giving references to important an often visual points.

thank you for taking the time to post, to converse, and fallow through with this. Often the things worth doing are never easy. 
Shasiel Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2015
hehehe, I'm guilty of this in one instance. Although it was the client that did ask me to copy an existing painting and just change some of its elements to suite the location where it would be placed, I made sure I credited the original artist as best I can and placed its details in the rear side of the canvas the piece was painted on as well; but to be honest if it is something for profit I would still rather make my own composition. It is actually the biggest chunk of what you are being paid for as an artist. Composition is what defines one's identity as an artist and is also what justifies artworks done by a named artist to cost what some would consider ludicrous amounts.
ShortFocus Featured By Owner Edited Feb 7, 2015  Student Photographer
Finally some one who can get other people to read their journal, posted this. 
What kr0n did was wrong, he admitted it, he even deleted the prints that were copied/traced/What ever you know what I mean. And he probably learned A LOT from that experience. 
I think all this has spawned a good discussion about plagiarism. I've seen countless artists sell fan art merchandise at cons, and have always thought it was illegal. It's nice to get some answers on that part. I think it's good some artists here get a reminder of what's what, either so they don't go around with the mindset that what kr0n did was totally right, or that they start a witch hunt after some one who did nothing wrong. 
And nicely written Quinni. 
TefuAni Featured By Owner Edited Feb 11, 2015  Student General Artist
I agree with you completely. I think that everything should be resolved by now because he has already recognized and acknowledged his mistakes, and done what he could to make it up (adding credit to his redraws/tributes and deleting prints/stopping selling).
I'm still his fan and I think he's just learning from his mistakes, but there are tons of people that still are saying how terrible he is and also people that are defending him using arguments like "they're just jealous and can't believe people can have amazing art skills like yours" or "he's not tracing, so stop being mean to him" when they don't even know why people are upset/don't know what the actual problem is(profiting from fanart).
ShortFocus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015  Student Photographer
There will always be die hard fans defending their idol.
I have to say, I lost interest in him after figuring it out. I've always been awed by his poses and compositions, which evidently he didn't make, so yeah.
True, he still has LOADS of talent I could only dream of, but his colouring was not what I found inspiring, personally. 

DeviantArt as a community and as a site, could've handled this a lot better IMO. I think some people took it very personal, without them even being invovled other than being kr0ns hater or fan. 
Kamakru Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2015
I have no idea who the offending artist is and I really hope I'm not watching them -_-;;
From what I can gather in the seems like a lot of people don't understand the difference between copying, referencing, practice, parodies and master studies. Oioi! What a mess. It would be fantastic if artists with a following would be mindful enough to set higher moral standards. 
AnnikaLeigh16 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm not 100% familiar with the situation, but said artist is handling the situation really rather well and most people will continue to support him. He removed the print and made an apology jounal, etc. It's the comments on that journal that has people pissed off.
He's a really good and really popular artist here on DA but a lot of people in the comments were like, 'What??? I can't BELIEVE someone would accuse you of that!!1! I don't think it's a problem 'cause your version is better anywayy' etc. etc.
So yeah, he isn't as much of a problem here. It's the general response from the art community that's really worrying.
Kamakru Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015
Hmm I see. I'm glad to hear that he's admitting to the mistake he made and trying to correct it. There are a lot of inexperienced young artists on this site that just don't quite have a grasp on right/wrong regardless of popularity or who they idolize. In that case it seems like that artist needs to give a stern talking to his followers so they understand that no, what he did was not OK. 
amadeushopkins Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2015  Professional General Artist
Integrity and personal feelings aside it all boils down to weather or not the copyright holder can enforce their copyright.  If I wrote a story and called it UltraMarines and it was all about the exploits of commander Nathias of the Ultramarines, complete fan fiction, and I publish it on WatPad so anyone can read it. Games Workshop would have a hard time enforcing their copyrights and though they could ask me to take it down they would probably just ignore it.  HOWEVER, If I started selling a digital copy on Amazon, Games Workshop would have me in court faster than you can say ooda lollie !! 
  Games Workshop is running a gambit though because if they sue me and loose, then they loose the right to protect their intellectual property. Since I am blatantly ripping them off it's highly likely that no court in the world that recognized and enforced their copyright would allow me to continue, but their is always that chance, however small it may be. 

   Now let use the same example on some one making art here on Deviant Art.

          lets say you Qinni make a beautiful piece of art and I copy it and start selling it, like your example above, first do you have a registered trademark on it? my guess is no you don't. do you have a copyright on it? if the answer is no again then you have just given away that lovely piece of art, because there is not a court in the world who will care when you say no fair I did it first! 

  But it's worse than that.
  Lest say you took the time and money to protect your art with a trademark and a copyright. Now all that has done is given you the right to defend it. It's like a Ticket to the big fight and your a contender. 
  First your copyright, lets say I live in Jamaica (I actually live in the USA so we honor Canadian Copyrights but for the sake of the argument Jamaica) they don't honor our copyrights, and could give two friks if you have one. Sadly their are LOTS of countries that feel that way and don't care about your Copyright.

   Some of them care about your Trademark but not a lot. so now you have a dilemma. You have no way to enforce the law surrounding the protection of your copyrights and intellectual property. PirateBay existed for soooo long because of this and 4chan will go on forever because of this very thing. No one can or will stop them from pirating and if there is no accountability then the worst of humanity will emerge.
 I know a guy who makes a copious living selling copied space marines in knock off Games Workshop packaging. He lives in a country that doesn't care about GameWorkshops intellectual property and GW has no voice.

 So lets get away from feelings and morals and lets look at the Harsh reality. can you stop it? yes. then stop it. No . then who cares.
 Is it right is it wrong ? is it unethical is it moral .... doesn't matter. It happens.  can you stop it or can't you?  if you can then do it. if you can't worry about something else.  
SpaceTurtleStudios Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015  Professional General Artist
You know that you don't have to register copyright for your work to be copyrighted, right? As soon as you create a work, it's your intellectual property and belongs to you. Registering the copyright makes it easier to defend in court, but it's not a requirement for the work to be protected.

Also, as far as the internet goes, all Qinni really would need to do is file a DMCA takedown request against your copy. The website is legally required to take that offending page down, no questions asked.

Things can get tricky when multiple countries get involved, but putting your art up online is by no means giving it away for free for anyone to use. Even if the courts or the copyright holders don't directly get involved, if it is revealed that you copied another artists's work for some official capacity, your reputation may well be ruined. How many people will hire you, do you think, if you are a known plagiarist?

It sounds like the original article is directed mostly at small-time fan artists, and yeah, that stuff often goes unnoticed by rights holders because it's not worth their time to go after teenagers who are probably making $100 at a convention. But artists who continue this practice and try to become professionals? They're going to run into a lot more problems.
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February 7, 2015


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