Congratulations to SPDG member Kim Andersson!
Kim is one of the finalists in REPEAT(ed), a textile design competition held by The Printed Bolt. Starting in March, ten talented, up-and-coming textile designers will create new designs for quilting fabrics over a series of five challenges (think Project Runway for surface pattern designers, blog-style). A fabulous group of judges (including Amy Butler, Kim Kight, and Michelle Fifis to name a few!!) will select a winner and also eliminate two finalists each month, until there is one final winner in July.
Good luck to Kim and the rest of the finalists. We can’t wait to see your designs as the contest progresses!
Notes from last week’s meeting on “Using Social Media to Promote Your Artistic Business” have been posted in our members-only archive section. A huge thank you goes to discussion panelists Cindy Ann Ganaden, Tamara Holland, and Alisha Wilson for sharing your wisdom and wealth of experience. We learned so much from you creative gals — you even sparked a flurry of activity on Twitter and Facebook the following day!
Also, we would like to say a special thank you to moderator Dianne Woods of the Bay Area Licensing Artists (BALA) group for organizing the panel and leading the discussion. The SPDG looks forward to teaming up with BALA again in the near future.
The Surface Pattern Design Guild and Bay Area Licensing Artists will be co-hosting a panel discussion on the benefit of social media in growing our businesses.
When: Monday, September 17th at 7:00 pm
Where: The Finnish Hall, 1970 Chestnut St, Berkeley
Fee: $5 (cash only, please); FREE for members of SPDG
The evening will be of interest to artists of all kinds whose objectives include licensing or selling their art. We have invited a group of social-media savvy artists to talk with us about their experiences and successes using this new platform to promote their work. Please note that this will not be a how-to or step-by-step presentation, but rather a lively discussion about how to leverage social media for our art businesses.
We love to be connected. People are attached to the internet all day long. Businesses without websites may as well be non-existent. And images have taken a leading role in selling products and services.
Fabulous! We love it!
For artists, there’s a catch. Along with ease of ability to browse images, there is an equal ease of ability to copy images, frequently without the owner’s permission, essentially undermining the artist’s livelihood. So what’s an artist to do? Not post images and be virtually invisible, or post images and risk having one’s work copied?
To this, there is no easy answer. But I’ve created a set of guidelines so that if you do post, you are putting yourself in the best possible position.
Understand that if someone wants to steal your images, they will. But by and large, most people are honest — just ignorant. For instance, a large portion of the population believes that if an image is on the internet, it is free to copy. As an artist, you know that as soon as you create an image, it is protected by copyright laws in the U.S., regardless of whether it has the © symbol and regardless of whether you have registered it with the Copyright Office. Nonetheless, a large portion of the public is unaware of this fact. BUT, when they see the © symbol, they become aware of your rights and may be deterred from copying.
Watermarked, cropped, and low-res.
Step #1: Put a watermark on all images you post. Your watermark should include the © symbol and your name at a minimum (© Sarah Schwartz). A proper copyright notice under the US copyright laws also includes a year of publication (© 2012 Sarah Schwartz). It’s also wise to put your website or other contact information in your watermark so that someone knows how to get in contact with you in the event that they are interested in your work.
Step #2: Use low resolution and cropped images whenever possible. If you’re posting images, you may be thinking that you want to post high-res full-size images to show your work in the best possible light. However, posting high-res images just makes life easier for the would-be copier. Having low res images makes it much harder to physically copy your work. Think about it: it is much easier for a copyright infringer to download a high-res image right into photoshop or illustrator, make a couple modifications and claim it as his or her own than it is to download a low-res image where one would actually have to redraw the design.
And if you can, don’t post your full-size image. Just post a cropped version showing only a portion of your image. If someone is “inspired” by your work, at least they can’t copy the whole thing.
Step #3: Apply Metadata. What is metadata? Metadata is basically information about the image that is invisible when viewing the image, but it is stored in the image file. Using metadata is a way to embed copyright and contact information into your image.
It is very easy to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Bridge to apply metadata. I like to use Bridge. In Bridge, open an image in the viewer. Under the Metadata tab, enter your contact and copyright information.
In Photoshop and Illustrator, you can do the same thing going to File>File Info and then entering information under the “Description” and IPTC tabs. Note, that you do not need to fill in every bit of information.The copyright information and a website or email for contact is the most critical. It is up to you if you want to provide additional contact information like an address or phone #. The more you provide, however, the more ways people can get in touch with you about the image or your services, and this is especially useful since over the years email addresses and other contact info change.
Now that you’ve applied your metadata, that data should travel with your image. Your metadata is readable to anyone who opens your image in image editing software (like Photoshop or Illustrator). So if someone ever finds an orphaned copy of your work (e.g., someone copied it and maybe even cropped it!), it is still traceable back to you.
But be warned. Do not rely on metadata exclusively. Some social media sites strip out the metadata information (that’s why you need to make sure you have a watermark too). Reasons for removing this data include protecting personal information (e.g., some people are sensitive to having their address and phone numbers published). Removing the data, however, may be a violation of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act).
Many photo sharing sites remove this information, including Pinterest and Facebook. For information about which sites strip metadata and which don’t, visit Controlled Vocabulary which has preliminary survey results studying which social media sites are stripping metadata. If you want to test an image to see if it includes metadata, visit Jeff Friedl’s Online Metadata Viewer - a tool to view image metadata. Directions to use this tool are also on the Controlled Vocabulary site.
Step #4: Register with the Copyright Office.
Although you do not need to register your images with the Copyright Office to have copyright protection in them, it is always a good idea to do so. First, you cannot sue someone for copyright infringement until you register. Second, there are many benefits conferred if you register early, including the ability to collect statutory damages ($750-$30,000 per infringement). Registration doesn’t prevent someone from copying your image, but it may help you feel better if you have to sue someone!
Let’s face it, even if you take all of the above steps, the unscrupulous individual is still going to copy your images. But short of burying your work in a closet, it is a risk that every artist takes for any image shown in public. But by following the above steps, you have moved yourself a long way down the path toward minimizing that risk and keeping your images traceable to you, while maintaining the visibility that is so critical in today’s connected world.
Image Attribution for "HTTP" internet image at top of post: By Rock1997 (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (image link)
For those of you following our Pinterest discussion a few weeks ago, Pinterest has recently announced that it is changing it’s Terms of Service, effective April 6. There are a couple changes that are especially relevant.
First, Pinterest no longer claims a right to license, sell, or transfer User Content. Prior to this change, many artists felt like they could not post their own work for fear that Pinterest would turn around and sell it. So this change should be a welcome relief to artists.*
Second, Pinterest has changed its Pin Etiquette. Although I have seen no formal announcement about this change like I did for the Terms of Service, Pinterest’s Pin Etiquette no longer states that they discourage the posting of one’s own images.
In my opinion, this is a marked shift in Pinterest policy. Before, Pinterest’s Pin Etiquette implied that it was socially unacceptable to self-promote and post your own images. In effect, they encouraged users to go find and pin the images of others (typically done by most users without permission of the owner). Ironically, in most cases, the only images a user could actually be certain he or she had the rights to post were his or her own. So this policy shift is change for the better both in making it acceptable to pin one’s own images and in ensuring that images are being pinned legally.
Users still need to pin with caution.
What did not change in Pinterest’s Terms of service is that the User is still, and always has been, responsible for the content they post. By not getting the permission from image owners to “pin” an image, a User could be liable for copyright infringement (in my opinion, a “pin it” button next to an image is permission to “pin”). As Pinterest states:
The Bottom Line
So the bottom line is that Pinterest is listening and responding to its users, and that’s good because I still love Pinterest! Still, be aware of the copyright laws and please pin with care and integrity. Pinterest makes a nice point in it’s Pin Etiquette:
I think so too.
* You should note, however, that if you use metatags to embed copyright information in your images, Pinterest (as well as many other sites) is currently stripping them out. I will be discussing protection of images online, including a discussion of metatags in an upcoming post.
I’m completely addicted to Pinterest. Once I’m on, I can’t get away (a friend of mine has compared it to crack!). Pin! Pin! Repin! Ooooh, check out that image! Repin it!!
But I’ve had to stay away lately. And I’ve taken down all of my boards.
Yes. I loved my boards. I loved looking at all of those images. They were such delicious eye candy!!! So much inspiration! But I had to take them down. Ever since I started pinning I’ve had this little voice in the back of my head whispering “copyright.... copyright.... copyright.” Yes, that’s a little creepy, but that’s the truth of it.
Here’s the thing. Too many people believe that if an image is on the internet it must be “public domain.” The reality is, that unless an image was created before 1923 or unless you know for certain that it’s been dedicated to the public domain (e.g., there is language that says “I dedicate this image to the public domain”), it may still be protected by copyright laws. And the copyright law says that only the copyright owner has the right to make copies of the work.
That means when someone pins an image from the internet without getting permission from the copyright owner, that may be creating a copy that constitutes copyright infringement.
What does all that mean? It means that if you pin an image, you’d better have the right to make a copy of the image because if Pinterest gets sued by the copyright owner, YOU may be the one held liable AND you may have to pay all of Pinterest’s costs in dealing with any copyright issues that arise as the result of your pins. And it means that it is your responsibility to determine if an image you’re pinning is protected by copyright.
That really ought to make you think before you pin.
But.... you say, I should be OK. I go to the original source! I give the owner credit! I am sending traffic to their site by pinning their images!
All of that may be true and your intentions pure. But here’s the bottom line. Copyright laws give the copyright owner the right to make copies of their work. Not you. Not me. And that’s how it should be. But even if you feel you are helping the artist out, and even if pinning their image drives tons of traffic to their site: the choice to make a copy of their work by pinning it is just not your choice to make. It’s theirs.
Just because technology makes it easy to copy doesn’t make it right.
"Fair use! Fair use!" you cry. Typically "fair use" is a defense to copyright infringement when images are used for news commentary or educational purposes, neither of which is typically the case with images on Pinterest (I know, you are probably saying, "doesn't pinning an image make it news?" I doubt it). The best argument for fair use may lie in the case Kelly v. Arriba Soft, where the court found that a search engine that used thumbnails to index images was fair use. Unfortunately, there are big differences here. On Pinterest, images aren't thumbnails, they're full size. And, unlike the defendant in the Kelly case, Pinterest itself is not the one taking action to collect the images: its users are. (Think "Napster.") So while it's possible pinning images is a fair use for a user, it is only a possibility, and a remote one at that.
Some sites like Flickr have started using a “no pin” code to help their image owners prevent pinning without their permission. But my hope is that some artists will recognize the value of having their images pinned (more recognition, more website traffic) and will start to add “Pin it” buttons to their websites, giving Pinterest users an implicit license to pin the images.
Some may say that taking down my boards is an extreme measure. But to me, taking down my boards is the right thing to do — really, the only thing to do. Sure I had some images on my boards that were OK... many that were images of antique patterns from long before 1923. But instead of trying to sort them and figure out what was OK and what wasn’t, I’ve decided to start again. Clean break.
And it feels good.
To read more, check out these links for others thinking along the same lines as I am:
Oh... one more thing. I am a former intellectual property attorney. So yes, I have an idea of what I’m talking about. And no, none of the above constitutes legal advice.
If you haven’t explored Pinterest yet, it’s a veritable feast for the eyes...highly addictive too!
Pinterest is a social media platform often described as a “virtual pinboard” of photos and imagery, allowing users to organize and share all of the cool things they find online. Users “pin” images to topical “boards” curated to showcase personal tastes and interests (perfect for the organization-obsessed). Users expand their community and wealth of visual inspiration by “following” the boards of other users. Image pins retain the link to their original website, blog or photo-stream and can be “repinned” onto another user’s board.
SPDG recently created its debut pinboard on Pinterest. We’re excited to share what inspires us and build collections of all things related to textile and surface pattern design—styles, motifs, color palettes, textures, artists, etc. We’d love to collaborate with YOU, dear reader. If you’re on Pinterest, please follow “Surface Pattern Design Guild” and, if you’d like, add SPDG as a contributor to your own design pinboards.
Need help finding motifs or color direction? Let the visual brainstorm begin. The pinboards we work on together will show up on both your page and ours, and we can create a fantastic design resource. If you’d like to collaborate on boards that SPDG has already started, feel free to contact us and we’ll add you as a contributor. We’d love to see what you’re into!