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December 25, 2012


Replies: 59

Using References/Copyright ????

As a lot of people know drawing from reference is a good way
to increase the accuracy of your drawings. But what about copyright? Unless you own the reference pics yourself or have gotten permission you are, as far I understand, committing copyright infringement. Now yes, there is stock reference. But what about for commercial use? Do commercial artists not use references when they draw? Do they use their own reference pics? Do they buy permission somehow from stock artists? Now I imagine for basic things a commercial artist would know how to draw them (to some degree at least) from scratch. But sometimes drawing from
scratch isn't always so simple--especially when the drawing
needs to look exact. For example a drawing of a specific
person, place, or thing. Do they take their own pictures?
What if that isn't really possible? For instance drawing
a picture of the late Billy Mays. You couldn't take a picture of him NOW because he had passed away. But if you
used a picture or even a drawing of him as reference you
would be using it as a derivative work and you would be
committing copyright infringement. But yet there are thousands of drawings of famous people both alive and dead
and it just doesn't make any sense that every person who's
drawn Johnny Depp has actually gotten permission from Mr. Depp or the people he works with/for. And yet you don't
hear too many of these people being sued. Now of course I'm
sure Mr. Depp has better things to do then sue thousands
of screaming fans for drawing his likeness so maybe there's
a legal grey going on. But what about morally? It seems pretty well accepted to draw Johnny Depp using a reference
and some would even suggest it to those who don't. But what makes that ok and using stock images as reference without permission not? Do understand that I am NOT advocating that
we use stock without permission or that people who draw Johnny Depp from reference are art thieves. That would be a bit silly. Rather I am trying to gain a better understanding
of the relationship between use of reference and copyright
both in the legal sense and the moral sense. By moral I simply mean what is generally accepted in the "artist community". I would really appreciate any replies from commercial artists and stock photographers and others
on this issue.

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Devious Comments

My-Drawing-Tutorials Jan 10, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah. Copyright laws have always confused me.
Law in general is confusing.
Starlit-Sorceress Jan 9, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
If you use a specific pose or a portion of someone else's work exactly, then that's bad. But if you're painting a tree, for example, and you go on google images to find examples of bark textures, then you don't owe those photographers anything.
So it's sorta a matter of how you use the reference?
Tetchist Jan 9, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
"Unless you own the reference pics yourself or have gotten permission you are, as far I understand, committing copyright infringement."

this is false.

the rest of your post is just as silly.
Care to explain why it is false?
I don't believe I have ever claimed
myself to be an expert of any kind
so if my post is as silly as you claim then please enlighten me.

The entire point of this thread if you hadn't noticed before was to
ask questions and establish a dialogue on the issues. If you have an opposing view point that you wish to express then I welcome it.

So if you would be as so kind to explain your position I would most appreciate it. Thank you.
Tetchist Jan 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
no thanks. I don't need to.
Then I'll be forced to conclude
that your criticisms are baseless
and that you have only come here
to troll until I see evidence
to the contrary.
Tetchist Jan 11, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I don't really care what you conclude :roll:
I wasn't expecting you would.
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