Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Copyright breaches...

In this day and age of the internet, social media and other forms of instant networked communication I still don't understand why some so called 'artists' want to risk their reputation and the repercussions of litigation taken against them by copying other peoples works without asking permission and then trying to pass it off as their own and thinking they can get away with it.

It's unfortunate and as many people already know, i've been a victim of this many times over the years but in many ways i'm also fortunate that my works are well recognized amongst many photographers and artists alike worldwide and i'm usually informed almost immediately once a copyright breach against me is discovered.

The latest copyright breach of my photo 'Pears' by an oil painter made the news in the U.S media recently. Again... no permission was sought or any credit referenced back to my original photograph by the copyright infringer.

(Thanking San Diego based photographer Erika Thornes in bringing this copyright infringement to my attention. Shortly after this copyright breach against me occurred I was also interviewed by 1x.com blogger Mandy Schoch regarding the situation. A link to this blog post interview is here: 'Bill Gekas has been copied... again!')

Most times these copyright breaches take place it usually happens to be by painters or digital artists and only in a few circumstances has it been by other photographers.
Now one thing I have to mention is that I also receive many emails from painters doing the right thing and asking for permission to paint the works and respecting my ultimate decision. However, only in a handful of instances have I given permission for the works to be reproduced of which a mandatory requirement was that credit must have been referenced back to the original work and all correspondence of how the works were to be used for of which I have full records of.
If my works have been copied as paintings or in any other medium with no credit referenced back to me and the original work then it's a copyright breach of which I gave no authorization to.

Another thing i've discovered as to why it's usually painters doing the wrong thing by me and other photographers is that painters and photographers in most cases hang around in different circles. The unscrupulous artists rely on the fact that they won't be caught out as their circle won't intersect with the other circle... But here's the thing, sometimes these circles do intersect and the more well known the works are, the higher the chance you'll be called out. Now is risking your whole reputation as a respected artist worth it? Simply put, true artists understand and respect other artists works, fake artists don't!

Some of my more frequently copied work by painters.
'Red Beret, Potatoes, Pleiadian & Cherries'

Any respected artist who takes their work seriously and expects others to take their work seriously too have to be aware of international copyright laws. There is 'The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works' of which these 'countries' are signatories to and which makes international litigation proceedings a feasible prospect. Then there's also the internet and the social media weapon. The naming and shaming which can be just as detrimental if not moreso than litigation. Many years of hard work and earning some sort of respect in the arts community can be destroyed in an instant by being caught out, it just takes one act of stupidity. Is it worth it?

I've now decided to take the approach of both litigation where it'll be worth my while and naming and shaming when it's not. I've even had a suggestion by some of my friends and social media followers to create a new gallery with my copied works next to my original pieces, perhaps calling this gallery 'The Wall Of Shame!?'

The internet and it's powerful reach is a double edge sword for those that want to play against the rules and the approach i'll be taking now is simply compiling a list of the copyright breaches of my work i've come across over time and taking appropriate measures whether through litigious channels or using my social media reach in exposing the copyright infringers. It doesn't matter whether it's a commercial entity churning the dollars or a one man artist calling it an interpretation, because at the end of the day i'll be calling it fake and calling it out loudly!