Studio Notes: Let's Be Careful Out There! Creative Borrowing is on the Rise

I hesitated to talk on my blog about my difficult experiences over my career with intellectual property theft of creative works. When my work was passed off as someone elses it felt like a form of violence. I was trained in the 80 before the Internet and studied history, so referencing and crediting was ingrained into me and I was shocked. How could this happen? But sadly our standards have fallen and we need to build it back up together. To help in this, I have drafted an Amnesty Statement which you are free to discuss, use and discuss how your work can be credited.

This is a subject nobody wants to talk about. We have weak laws in Australia to handle this and no effective policies. Social media has become our idea of truth while algorithms are re-setting our aesthetic lives. Our educators and art leaders are not touching the hard stuff, so we need to be careful out there, to quote from an old 80's cop show I used to enjoy.  Younger Artist may also be untrained in copyright and referencing.

Recently a curator talked to me about one of those incidents and suggested that I pull all my blogs offline. I was like, ok, let's try that. So I did that for a while, but then I thought, I want people to know and recognise these people when they try and pass my ideas off as theirs. So I'm not going to hide my mind and soul. So I put a decent selection of blogs back online (plus more copyright notices).  But I have decided to be less passive. I now speak regularly with IT, data security and Intellectual Property experts to learn more about what's happening out there. The fact is that there are many artists desperate for celebrity and willing to do anything for success. Hard as it is to admit, we must engage more with expérienced people working to protect our work.

I am posting a few links about this topic below. Arts Law Australia has some very good tips. I'm learning the more I talk to people. Keep learning, tell others what's going on, get support, especially emotional  support, because I know it's a devastating thing to experience theft of your hard work. Lawyers are not much help if you don't have the money.

Below are two accessible articles "Why Stealing Is A Terrible Idea' on ETSY and 'Are You Stealing From Other Artists?' by US Art Consultant Kelly Marie.  Kelly explains the difference between passing off other peoples' ideas as your own, and transforming them with your own experience into something new and wonderful. Like Kelly, that effort and work I will always encourage and mentor. But I'm also going to start calling it out if it happens again. You should too. 

Enjoy the articles and "Hey, Let's be careful out there'. 

 A bit of reading...

  • Why Stealing Art Is a Terrible Idea by ETSY
  • Are You Stealing From Other Artists?
  • Arts Law Australia:  Arts Law is Australia’s independent national community legal centre for the arts, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. We provide free or low cost specialised legal advice, education and resources to Australian artists and arts organisations across all art forms, on a wide range of arts related legal and business matters.
  • Copyright Council of Australia:  The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation. Founded in 1968, we represent the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia’s creative industries and Australia’s major copyright collecting societies. We are advocates for the contribution of creators to Australia’s culture and economy; the importance of copyright for the common good. We work to promote understanding of copyright law and its application, lobby for appropriate law reform and foster collaboration between content creators and consumers.













Advocacy Recommendations

We need funding to:

      • make security affordable: provide affordable online security advice or services for Artists.

      • normalise ethical practice: include copyright and intellectual property (IP) in arts education curricula for students all the way to professional practice. (the big fish are no less guilty).

      • educate people: fund national community education for Artists on copyright and IP.

      • prioritise most vulnerable: Indigenous artists in regional areas are severely vulnerable to sham representation and the market in fake art. Migrants are excluded in the art world and less confident to speak out to established Artists and institutions and are not funded for legal representation.An Amnesty Approach

My Amnesty Approach

I appreciate colleagial collaboration and mentoring is an important part of my practice. I would be very satisfied with a late written credit for using and developing ideas you have gained from my website, either in the text and process or the image itself. That is fine and I do take it as a compliment. Contacting me with this request would be positively met and I would appreciate it more than getting a message from a third party. 

Feel free to email me if you want me to send you older links, pdfs or other documents from missing Studio Blogs.  If you are an Artist experiencing the same issues, you are free to use my "Amnesty Approach" Statement. People make mistakes, that's nothing new, but as a society we need to make space for them to make amends and to keep Art flowing while respecting the copyright and intellectual property rights of other Artists.

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