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Graphic design vs. cut and paste from photos.

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#1 Scuba_SI


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Posted 06 February 2008 - 07:41 PM

I was looking around on the net and came across these 'original' pieces of artwork relating to surf boards:


I'm pretty sure i recognize the Great Hammerhead in the drawing as being identical to Charles Hood's image taken a few years back, but im not sure if it was his.

Anyway, i was just curious about how you'd feel if someone editied your pic in photoshop to make it look less realistic, then sold it for a fortune on a surfboard.

Does anyone else recognize say the turtles? One of them has an interesting halo.

Or am i just being mean to someone who takes inspiration from photographs and then recreates it by hand? ;) :)

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#2 scubamarli



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Posted 06 February 2008 - 08:49 PM

Copyright infringement is Copyright infringement. Part or parcel. Same deal. I work really hard as a teacher of Graphic Design and Art to emphasize what is bloody blatent theft. I must admit, it's a hard sell. In an era of free downloads and software piracy, it's really difficult to explain that it is wrong to plagiarize and use other's work as your own. (I do try). Drives me nuts (and I don't have far to go!). Would one think it acceptable to put Warhol's work on a board? I dare them, the estate will go for broke (as they have actually licensed poor Andy's images for snowboards). So, if any of us photo types, pro or otherwise, notice something suspect, let the photographer know (gosh, please don't go all photo police with the "offender"; it may have been licensed already), and for heaven's sake stop patronizing the $1 stock sites.
enuf said,
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#3 Craig Ruaux

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 07:25 AM

There is at least some precedent for Fair Use protection of infringers using photographs as a part of a collage.

See Koons/Niagara and Silk Sandals.

Not saying it is right, or not, just saying it is out there...

A lot would hinge on how "transformative" the new work is.
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#4 scubamarli



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Posted 10 February 2008 - 10:47 AM

Interesting article. One can only wonder what other photos were approriated in the "creation" of Koon's multimillion dollar commission.
Marli Wakeling

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#5 JackConnick



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Posted 10 February 2008 - 11:18 AM

Boy, this is an area of back and white and all shades of grey....

I too, am a graphic designer as well as a photographer. Most illustrators use "scrap" files - photos and illustrations to draw from. Whether this is an expression on someone's face, or body pose, colors, etc. Mostly this is used for inspiration and the art is used for accuracy. That is a fairly allowable use.

When someone traces over something, then it violates copyright. ie you can't just photoshop something, or make a silhouette illustration over the top of a photo without paying usage. Nor can you redraw it too accurately so that it is the major basis for the illustration.

However, obviously therein lies the rub, there is a lot of interpretation. And artists and photographers have copied ideas and approaches for eons now. It's a part of the creative process.

There lots more on this subject at http://creativepro.com and other sites.


As far as the $1 stock sites, I buy lots of stuff from iStockPhoto, its a very competitive business and the photos work for many clients. Getty Images is up for sale and the stock photo business model has been thrown out the door and is being reinvented. Would I sell my photos through them? Probably not. But that's the subject of another discussion...

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#6 acco205



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Posted 17 February 2008 - 12:04 AM

As jack said there are a lot of grey areas here...

If i remember back to when I was into graphic design, you could technically avoid copyright infringment by editing by 1/3rd or more, which essensially means, you can take someones work and stylize it to look like a painting and publish it without bothering to give credit or royalties.

However, one could argue on so many levels that it hasnt truley been edited and is a blatent recreation, etc and at the very least get your name accredited to the origonal.

On the other hand, ethics dictate that regardless or any copyright laws no matter how much editing you do, you should accredit the origonal to its creator.

Then you also have to look at what sorts of creative spin the person has put on it. Is it a direct copy? or did they take the idea or emotion captured in the origonal imge and transcribe it to something else, etc. That is to say, did the copy it or did they use it for inspiration.

Its definatly a tricky subject and the grey areas ar never really defined until the origonal author finds out/presses charges and the person who coppied it pushes back. Then its pretty much a battle of will.

But, we also can't nessisarily rule out that the simularities arnt just coincidence...

My $0.02...