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*All images and words copyright of Diane Dobson-Barton dba as Barton Studio 2002-2007

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Copyright Information for Artists On The Internet

Copyright when it comes to artists work seems to be something that comes up often.  There are many myths that seem to never go away. In order to protect yourself education is the best defense! *Notice – I am NOT an attorney and the information provided below is not intended to be used in a court of law

"What is a copyright?" It is a term assigned to anything that is an affixed expression of an idea fixed in a tangible form. What this means is that you can copyright an article, a web site, a book, a painting, anything created with your hands, but not the idea.
"What is the difference between copyright and a patent." A patent covers the physical manifestation of an idea, a copyright as mentioned above is on the tangle form. So I could patent the idea I have for a product for artists, but I could copyright the work I make with the product.
"If it is on the internet it is up for grabs." WRONG! So wrong, it is scary.  Yet this is often repeated and heard as being ‘God’s truth”.  Things, in particular images in our case, are covered by the intellectual copyright law from the moment they are created.  This includes the image of anything the artist has created.  This is where it gets a little freaky.  But if I create a painting, take a pic of it, I own the copyright to the item I painted and the picture of it. BUT, if I take a pic of another artist work, I can not reproduce the image because it contains copyrighted material, aka the other artist work.
"If there is no copyright notice it’s not copyrighted."  WRONG.  Copyright notice can be provided but if it is not there that does not mean that it is not legally copyrighted. (see #1) BUT, Having a copyright filed does make it easier to fight in court.
"If I post someone work it gives them free advertising, so no harm done."

Wrong again, it is up to the copyright holder if they want ‘free advertising’, not someone that happens across the work, likes it and wants to share it.  Not to mention if you do this with someone work they can easily track you down.  At first they will most likely mention it to you nicely, and you rightly should remove it ASAP.  If you do not expect your host to be notified and they usually will take recourse, aka shut you down.

If in doubt always ask the artist first, I must admit I learned this the hard way.  When I was still new to writing articles on art I sent in and had an article published by a noteworthy site.  The article included images of someone else work, and several months later the site was notified by the artist representative.  The publication removed the pictures, contacted me of the situation and it caused an embarrassing situation all around. And it all could have been avoided if I had just jump through a small necessary hoop first.

If the artist does not give their permission, or their demand to let you use it beyond your means, than it is simple – Do NOT use it.

 "What is ‘Public Domain’?"  This means that anyone can use the image freely and that is not covered by copyright law
For more information go to the U.S. Copyright Office