People, in general, not just artists, get upset if they found out that their work has been pirated or reproduced illegally. Whether it’s visual art, music, a poem, or a simple photo or images, it is necessary to ask the owner if you want to reproduce their work. While copying other artwork without the permission of the owner or the artist is an infringement of the copyright law, there is still the question of whether the artist is willing to do anything about it, legally. Many artworks are reproduced illegally every day, and going into a legal battle is not the best route to take. Despite that, many artists still attempt all kinds of legal actions in regards to the unauthorized use of their material or art.
Artists who go that route end up winning the legal battle, but that is not the point. The point is, doing this takes time and money. For struggling artists, this situation is challenging. Artists who want their work to get free publicity are having difficulty in finding a platform. Some of them don’t even care anymore if they someone wants to pay them or not for their art. Many companies are no longer taking a risk on getting the service of artists who can sue them if their artwork is getting reproduced. Because of this, people are less exposed to art, whether from traditional media or in print ads or any publications.
Don’t forget people in the art department are paid or receive royalty fees for their work that corporations used in their projects, but that’s not always the case. There are times that companies don’t have a budget to include art in their plans. So, every time an artist files a legal complaint against companies; they should always ask these questions:
- Is the company using your art exclusively?
- Are they making money out of it?
- Is it essential to pursue legal actions?
If the artist does not adequately address these questions, he or she should think twice before filing a case. There are times that companies don’t pay the owner, but they will honor and give them the platform to showcase their talent. Instead of spending money on the artwork, companies will promote it and hope that more people will recognize and encourage to buy their art. Another situation is when an artist is asked to lend their art in a particular project for a big product, but they are told by the company that there is no budget to pay for the art. If this is the case, they should do everything in their power to be a part of that kind of project. Imagine the exposure they can get if their art is used in TV, print advertising, film (watch Monument’s Men for reference) or simple product placement (the best example if this is. Remember, if the product is more significant than your name, it will do more good to you than you to them. Never looked at this kind of promotion as your way to earning big money. Most of this kind of production has little wiggle room when it comes to the budget. But if a big corporation asked you if they can use your art as a means to attract followers, then that’s a different story. Most people working in advertising are big art lovers. If they are interested in a particular art, they will make sure that that art will be given a proper homage in their production (take for example Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can advertisement in 1962). Whether your art is used for money grabbing schemes or for set decorations, artists should be happy since they have given them the platform to express the artist’s work. So in case you are in this kind of predicament, instead of taking legal actions which are time consuming and can cost a lot of money for both parties, be grateful and consider it as a big honor. Imagine how many artists in this world and how many of them are given a chance to be part of a specific project that has a TV or film exposure. Taking legal actions for art copyright infringement is always justified whether they are home owner paintings or a big commissioned art piece.
Artists should decide when to take legal action and when not to. There are times that it is better to allow the art to be reproduced, of course with the artist’s permission. Legal action is an unnecessary risk. Publicity is always good for everyone’s career. Money can follow afterward.
Art people should allow their art to be reproduced as often as possible if it is beneficial to their career. The more people can see their art, the higher the chance they can get sponsors, exhibits, representation, sales or even commissions. Remember, reputation is vital in this business. The higher your name on the ladder, the more art you can sell. So instead of depleting all your resources trying to sue everyone who appreciates your art, turn it around and add those accomplishments to your resume.