Imitation isn't So Flattering

I really don't want to take up blog space dwelling on negatives, but I think it's worthwhile to open up a discussion about copyright infringement. Being on the receiving end can cause a lot of grief, exasperation & heartache. For instance, the image above... To the left we have an original illustration that I made way back in 2005. To the right, we have an extremely bizarre & badly put together poster design, featuring my illustration, advertising a 2007 exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum. I was not asked for permission or offered a fee - in fact, I would not have licensed this particular image because it's my logo, but I was denied the right to refuse. What makes it even more difficult to accept is that the person who stole my artwork is presumably an artist or designer themselves, & should know better; if not from a legal standpoint, from an ethical one. And this is just one example of the many, many times that my work has been used without my permission.

Left: My original illustration, 2005. Right: My illustration stolen by the Shanghai Art Museum, 2007.

Grrr... Anyway, deep breaths...

What confounds me is when I've talked to other independent creative-type people about copyright infringement, quite a lot of them seem to have either a blasé or fatalistic attitude about it. What are your thoughts on copyright & protecting your work? Have you had any of your work stolen before? I'm really interested to hear about other people's experiences.

Not many of us have the means to resort to legal action, & copyright legislation is only intended for matters of financial loss/compensation. But what about when someone incorrectly credits your work so no one knows you made it? Or butchers your images with their dodgy Photoshop skills? It hurts. Although it may not cause a financial loss, if you're featured somewhere but not credited & linked to, you miss out on an opportunity for people to find you, & when someone modifies your lovingly made images, they're degrading the integrity of your artwork.

I've covered all of this & more in my copyright policy based on my experiences. My advice to anyone who wants to share their work online, is to choose a Creative Commons license & link people to it. It's really nice to share, but as I say on my copyright policy page, my artwork is my livelihood, & my pride & joy - & that is worth protecting isn't it?