There is a growing fear out there. It's been there a while but with the newest addition on the social media stage, Pinterest, it has been raising it's ugly head again:
2006 watercolor and colored pencil
Oh wouldn't it be grand if we could all feel secure about sharing our photos and artwork with out having to worry that someone would actually "steal" our work, claiming it to be there own and using it for God only knows what. Back when I was in art school (early 90s) I remember that they briefly touched on copyrights. My professors said, as long as you make that "C" with the circle around it, date it and sign it... it's yours. And that may still be true, but it doesn't stop the thieves and I'm not sure how well it would hold up in court.
Some people have spoken about putting "watermarks" on their images (you know, the white overlay that says 'Joe Blows Photography Copyright 2012'). Others try not to do that saying that it takes away from the image. Which I believe is kind of true. What is also kind of true is that if someone wants to use your photo/art... they will find a way. Watermark or no.
Now with Pinterest and the ability to "pin" images to other pages (that somehow ties into Facebook), there are artists starting to freak about not knowing who is looking at your work, who's pinning your work. I don't know a whole lot about Pinterest, I've only recently been on the website, but from what I understand, you pin something and if someone else would click it, it would take you to the original website where it came from... well, not really. In fact, I was just on there.... it will list the website where the "pin" was created under the image on your "pin board". You can click it to navigate over to that website.
So why all the commotion? If you're a creative person, don't you want people to see your stuff? As long as it has my name on it (AND ALL MY PAINTINGS WILL HAVE MY NAME ON IT - FRONT AND BACK) I figure I'm doing what I wanted to do all along... have people look at my work.
I do want to note that I am taking a moment to collect all the images of my work and send them off to the government to have it "officially copyrighted" and protected from all the haters out there. Go here and see how easy it is: http://www.copyright.gov/ .
J's sister is a copyright attorney in Chicago (another warning to all you haters out there.) I asked her briefly once about copying images. She made an interesting point. If an artist makes a painting of a still life, let's say of a skull, apples and a porcelain bowl... sets it up in an interesting way.... and then someone copies it identical to the first artist, that's copyright infringement. However, if the second artist would use a skull, apples and a porcelain bowl, sets it up the same way but paints from that particular still life -THIS IS PERFECTLY LEGAL.
"Good artists copy. Great artists steal" - Pablo Picasso