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Ringwood Art Society
Copyright Guide

It was brought to our attention some time ago that one or two paintings may have contravened copyright law. Since this has become an issue for many art societies, we felt it appropriate to offer some information about copyright.

Copyright exists for the protection of the artist. The moment an original picture is painted, drawn or a photograph taken, copyright is established on behalf of the artist or photographer. Copyright protection for artists is laid out in the copyright act 1956.
It is a complicated act but the general rule is that the copyright of portraits in any media or photograph belongs to whoever commissioned them, whereas copyright on all other art is owned by the artist regardless of whether the work is commissioned or not. Therefore even if you sell a painting the copyright remains with you and no one can legally reproduce it in any form without your permission.

If you are painting or drawing for your own pleasure and DO NOT intend to sell the work then it is acceptable to copy or use any photographs or paintings or parts of them. You will often see students in art galleries sketching or painting copies of old masters for experience and practice. It is only when a copied work of art is offered for sale for financial gain that copyright law can be contravened.

As a General Rule:
1. *If you copy another artists painting (For example “The Haywain” by John Constable) then you must sign the work with your own name and also give credit to the original artist by stating “after” Constable in the title.

2. If you produce a painting that is in the style of another artist but your own idea and work, it is usual to state in the title that it is “in the style of” that artist.

3. You must on no account copy any photograph or work of art that is not your own for the purposes of financial gain.

4. Downloading a photograph from the world wide web is also not allowed if you are going to copy it for commercial purposes. Many free sites will allow you personal use. However you must read the terms and conditions carefully, as they usually prevent anyone from copying for personal gain. Similarly TV and DVD images are also copyrighted.

*Not acceptable for Ringwood Art Society Exhibitions as this is not your original work, although some societies may accept them.

It is possible to purchase the right to use a photograph as an aid to produce a work of art. Some photographers are prepared to sell you that right, but they may sell the image to other artists also. When purchasing the right to use a photograph check if you are purchasing the shared copyright or sole which will avoid duplication by another artist.

The rules of the Ringwood Art Society remain the same in that all work entered for exhibitions MUST BE ORIGINAL (ie no copies) and produced from your own sketches or photographs. Paintings produced from photographs purchasing sole or shared copyright are acceptable. R.A.S reserves the right to ask you to show proof of purchase if required. We ask all members to be responsible for ensuring their exhibition paintings do not infringe copyright.

If there is doubt you may be asked to show evidence of the source of your work and if necessary the painting will be removed from the exhibition.

For those interested, more information on copyright can
be found on Wikipedia or from your local library.

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