Saturday, January 12, 2013

The plague of Plagiarism

Seems like every 6 months of so we come across yet another example of some hot new artistic talent being hyped across the internet who shortly afterward goes down in flames for being an out and out copycat. Some brazen it out (*Mijn Schatje), some risk a prison sentence (*Shepard Fairey) and others, like *Josafat Miranda wail into their Wacom Tablet: "I don't have a gallery. I don't have a job". He claims that being outed for copyright theft has "damaged his life".



I seriously doubt it, no publicity is bad publicity in this jaded age, but he hasn't learnt anything if he doesn't realise that it was his own bad decision to trace over another artist's image then sell it as his own that has caused the gallery to pull his work. Read the usual learned comments below this article (is there a variant of Godwin's Law that substitutes Picasso's "Great artist's steal" quote for the Nazi's in these cases?) to reassure yourself that plenty of very vocal (if typing can be vocal) people out there still don't get what is and isn't plagiarism. At least I don't think anyone rolled out the mouldy chestnut "it's actually legal if the artist changes the work by (insert random number) %, that's a legal fact, I am a top lawyer... Mom, shut up I'm busy down here", which makes a lovely change. Steam comes out of my ears whenever I read that one. (Who needs curling tongs? I look like an orthodox Jew a lot of the time.)

Anyhoo, (a) you like drawing stuff: great, draw stuff, preferrably from life, it teaches you a lot. (b) You like tracing from photo's: great, take some photos or use COPYRIGHT FREE images if you think you might ever want to sell your work!!! OR, (c) and this is the one that get's the most misunderstood... evolve the reference material you choose, (say, a photo of a celebrity who flatly refuses to come and sit in your Mother's basement while you draw them) to an extent where it can be called an original work... I can't tell you where to draw that line, there is no magic percentage. You need to develop a feel for where to draw the line on if you are copying or not for yourself, because you don't want to start selling your work and then wind up in court having a Judge decide for you. If you feel a little iffy on that issue then maybe just keep those drawings for a personal folio of stuff you show on deviant art but don't sell. Finally there is always option (d), the option I imagine Josafat Miranda now wishes he had taken, and that's contact the original photographer and ask permission, it's their right, as in All Rights Reserved - if they grant it and ask you to reference that it is based on their original image then do so... it's their legal right (that's a legal fact, I am a top lawyer, etc..)...

Must get back to my tracing errr drawing...

* have accepted my name isn't special enough for glory!

4 comments:

Nicole Beadwright Campanella said...

GREAT POST!!! Love it lots
Nicole/Beadwright

Illustrated Ink said...

I enjoyed this post! I'm often surprised by how many people are "confused" by what plagiarism is or means. For example, so many seem to think that Google images are available for the taking, despite the copyright mention under every image placed there by Google. Thanks for helping to clarify with this post!

Mealy Monster Land said...

great post.

Yve said...

Thanks y'all :o)