Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

Help! How Can I Stop People Breaching my Artist Copyright (Part two)

Since I made my last post I’ve been having a good think about the various responses I received and have come to some conclusions. I spoke about some basic steps the layman can take  to protect his artist copyright and realised that I had already come on quite a long journey in this respect. And so I decided I would share those insights with you here.

When I first started silk painting I had no idea how to get it out there and get the price right, let alone how to deal with the issue of people trying to copy it without my permission. And it soon became obvious to me that the more I worried about these things, the more I was attracting them into my life. Many people honestly wouldn’t know what they were doing unless I educated them.

It wasn’t until I began working in article marketing a few years ago that I really became exposed to putting my work out there on the net and just letting it go. I remember the guy we all worked for telling us to run some tests by Googling the first one or two lines of our articles and seeing where they appeared. Well, I was stunned at how many people had actually lifted my work and published it on their site with so much as a simple acknowledgment that it was mine. One specialist even claimed it was his work. Many of these magpie sites just disappeared overnight but it exposed me to the scale of this whole business.

Okay, back to the artwork. I began to realise that there will always be people who give themselves permission to use my images in whatever form they choose without my permission. I have decided that it is impossible for me to be vigilant round the clock. I have also decided that as long as I don’t know about it, there is little point in me worrying about it and wasting my energy. Just as there is little point in me worrying about the possibility of it happening. I am not a huge shark in the artworld, rather still a very little fish. So, to be honest, people aren’t going to be queuing up to use it.

And if I become as famous as Leonardo da Vinci is now (one of my all-time favourites), then why would I worry about bandits trying to steal my artwork?I feel at ease about sharing and trust in the process and will cross these bridges if and when I come to them and not before.,

I’m in a good space as far as artist copyright is concerned. I take care to point out publicly that my work may not be reproduced and that I am likely to take steps if this is not adhered to. But in terms of where my life is leading me now, others will find it very hard to copy and steal me, my very own brand. That is definitely something I am not afraid of.

For those of you who would like to know more about using images on the internet, have a look at this great post put together by Kathy Alice Brown about public domain photographs.

And what about you? Do you agree with me or do think differently on this matter? I’d love to hear your comments.

January 17, 2011 - Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , ,


  1. Fiona, I think it’s so important to find the balance that you are talking about: taking care to protect yourself, but then letting go of trying to control every last person who might steal some of your work. I think that place of balance could be different at different times of one’s life and different for different aspects of one’s work. I really appreciate your writing on this matter, as it’s something I’ve been clueless about!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer

    Comment by Judy Stone-Goldman | January 17, 2011 | Reply

    • I’m glad you’ve found it useful Judy and thank you for giving me the inspiration to write it. It has brought my awareness once again to what I attract into my life.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. I generally don’t worry about people picking up information from my blog. I know where it came from and I post my blog as information for others anyway. My design work is mine, my clients know this, my portfolio shows it, and well, if someone wants to use a picture i guess I am honored they think it’s good enough.
    I haven’t really worried about it and probably won’t

    Comment by Irene Turner | January 17, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks and great to hear you’re clear on this, Irene. If someone were earning money on reproductions of my work, I would get active. Fascinating topic that shows us where our boundaries are.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 17, 2011 | Reply

  3. This is something I would never have thought about happening…that people would do such a thing in the first place? I have heard of copyright infringement, but good grief, would not think people would be that bold and blatant to take your work and claim it as their own! How frustrating that must be! I love how you are adopting such a positive and strong stance on this issue and have always believed that Good and Right win in the end, so am believing that for you, too. The more recognition you achieve, the more people will realize when you are being copied. Wishing you all the best!!!

    Comment by Donna McCord | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks a lot Donna. Whatever we perceive, we can achieve and the same is true for all the negative things we envisage.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  4. Important issue…even more important revelation you had…by focusing on it, you may be attracting it to you.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Darcie Newton
    Wine, not whine. Nature not Nurture. Disciplined for profit, none for cheese.

    Comment by Darcie Newton | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for commenting Darcie. It’s time to focus on what’s important.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  5. this is something that is becoming more of a priority to me as my product starts to come to market. Between the actual product, branding, and collateral we are creating — I am concerned about it all being misused. I am going to do some googling like you did as things get rolling and try to keep myself protected. Rachel

    Comment by Rachel H Blaufeld | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Rachel,
      You need to know what you can do and do it to protect your work. And I know that when I’ve done that, I can sort of let go and trust the process. If I came up with an idea that was worth millions, then I might consider gettting it patented but that is lengthy and costly. I like to cross each bridge as I come to it, within reason. Good luck with your project. Hope to hear more.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  6. Hi Fiona,

    I love your attitude to this issue, because as you say, it could totally distract you from what you actually want to focus on. You can also look at it as flattery that people like it enough to copy? Just like the great masters…..:) A little credit from them that it is yours wouldn’t hurt though…..:)

    Annette and Snoopy 🙂

    Comment by Annette and Snoopy | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Annette. Yes, it’s about giving credit where credit is due.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  7. I completely agree with you Fiona. You could spend half your life worrying about people copying your words, your art or whatever. Important to do what you can do to protect and then let go – a great attitude!
    Louise Edington
    Facing Fears For Freedom

    Comment by Louise Edington | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Louise. Yes, this way I have peace of mind.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  8. Hi Can you watermark your images? I have a few friends who are photographers and that’s what they do when posting images on the web. She also specifically requests that people give her credit if they are sharing her images.


    Comment by Fresh Brothers | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Debbie,

      Thanks a lot for commenting and yes, I can. I mentioned this in Part one. I spoke about some sites where you can post your art for show and they offer the option of adding a watermark. You can see this on the enlarged images I have on RedBubble. I would always do it if you can.

      And you’re right. It’s always good to point things out to people who are looking at your work because how will they otherwise know. For me the important part is letting people know that they cannot use my work without my permission.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 18, 2011 | Reply

  9. You should ALWAYS protect your work. It’s yours. You poored hours of your hard work and time into it. It other people out there would like to use your work, which is a great compliment to you, then you should be notified and if appropriate, compensated for it. As suggested in earlier comments, look into copyright and watermarks as ways to protect your work.


    Comment by Tracey Fisher | January 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Tracey

      Thanks for your comments. That’s interesting what you say about people wanting to use your work. In that case a contract can be drawn up or a licence given. Copyright is asserted by consistently laying claim to the artwork in public as I do on all sites and on the products I sell so as long as artists are doing this, they are laying a good foundation for proving ownership of it. For me one of the most effective measures is to ensure a low resolution image is posted which renders it useless to those wanting to make prints from it. So that is how I protect my work online. I would advise other artists to do the same.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 19, 2011 | Reply

  10. I had a client whose image was not only stolen but then used to sell on ebay (seller claimed the picture represented the product – which was obviously not the case). Talk about blatant. After that I made a popup that warned the user the image was copyrighted when they right clicked “save image as …” it’s not a complete solution and easily defeated, but we figured that we did our part in by educating the user and giving them the choice on doing the right thing.

    Some artists make sure only low res images are available on their site .. other invest in watermarking. It’s an issue I will need to sort out soon for a new client.

    Fiona thanks for your link! I’ve linked to your part 1.

    Comment by KathyAlice | January 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Kathy, thanks a lot for your comments and your great article. It was just perfect timing wasn’t it?
      Educating the public is the best we can do. But ignorance of the law doesn’t protect you from it. Breaking the law is breaking the law no matter how you say it.

      Thanks for linking back Kathy and good luck with your client.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 19, 2011 | Reply

  11. Hi Fiona,
    Now I’m curious to search the web re articles I’ve published… 🙂 I think you’ve found a good balance between “taking care of business” (your part) and “letting go” (everyone else’s part you can’t control).
    Brandy Mychals
    Communications Coach
    Creator of Split Second Perceptions

    Comment by Brandy Mychals | January 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Brandy. Yes, I’ve done what I can. Do give me some feedback if you find anything. I was amazed….

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 19, 2011 | Reply

  12. I would be so happy in the beginning if someone though I had something worth stealing!! But then again if they started making money on it and I wasn’t then perhaps not so much. My son writes music and lyrics and I was adamant telling him to get them copyrighted as i thought they were great and someone would steal them so he did, and yet i have been just copying and pasting photos from the internet to use in my blogs without considering copyright issues. Now i know different. Thanks for the insight

    Comment by Julie Labes | January 19, 2011 | Reply

    • You’re so welcome. Glad this topic has been of use to you. So many people really don’t know and are grateful to have it pointed out. It’s when they pass it off as their own and try to earn money with it that the fun stops.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 19, 2011 | Reply

  13. Fiona you raise a great point and I agree with your conclusions. There is no way to police everyone and still maintain your equilibrium. I am comfortable with my abilities and if anyone lifts my work and I do happen upon it, I can easily let them know that they are breaking the law.
    I am not afraid of copycats, there are always more ideas floating to the surface.

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle and laughter

    Comment by Jennifer Duchene | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, it’s about holding the balance in all of this and that’s what I’m about. As you say, the fountain of ideas will never run dry. Thanks for stopping by Jen.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  14. Hi Fiona,

    Thanks for reporting so thoroughly on your involvement in this complex issue. Call it borrowing, piracy, or just small-time theft, this issue is far from resolved.

    Used to be that people could misappropriate text, graphics, audio, software, or videos and never be confronted. Now holders of copyrighted material are raising a fuss in dozens of ways, and some show promise of being pretty effective.

    At least the fuss is educating everyone about the problem, and that’s a good thing.

    Comment by Robbie Schlosser | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  15. Thanks a lot Robbie for your comments. I agree that the noise being made is really educating the pirates and that is a good thing.

    Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  16. Fiona I think you’re right on. Do what you can to protect your work and then let it go.

    I’m not a religious guy (definitely spiritual), bu there’s a great parable called “The Parable of the Sower.”

    The Sower plants seeds for the crop and his dilemma is whether to chase the birds that are eating the seed or plant more seed.

    The advise – plant more seed. That’s what you’re doing.

    Comment by bill browning | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by Bill. I appreciate your advice. Keep planting.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  17. Fantastic attitude! Recently I was prevented from submitting one of my articles to because they said it was not my work. Come to find out that someone else had published it on a website with no attribution. Despite my demonstrating that it had appeared on my website FIRST, it was still declined. I decided to just let it go, it simply wasn’t worth the time and energy.

    Comment by Merlyn Sanchez | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks Merlyn. I think we have to be discerning about what we put our energy into and what we let go. It’s just not worth a lot of fuss sometimes.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | January 21, 2011 | Reply

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