As part of my ongoing attempt to improve the lives of my fellow artists, here are some resources I personally find invaluable. I will continue to add more to this list over time, so do check back or let me know in the comments what you would like to see added.
Copyright Information for Artists:
Your artwork is copyrighted the moment you create it. You can use this wording format in your description or meta data for the image: “© Copyright 2014 by Nikki Smith; All Rights Reserved.” Below are some helpful resources pertaining to copyrights and intellectual property rights:
1. DMCA Take-down Notice — Here is a sample DMCA letter you can use to send a copyright infringement notice to an online service provider when you discover someone infringing on your artwork. Copy-and-paste the sample notice and change out the placeholders to your own information. Very handy!
2. U.S. Copyright Office — This is where artists can register their copyrighted images online. Note that you own the copyright to your artwork the moment you create it and do not need to register with the copyright office, however it does have some key advantages…
3. Registered Copyright Agents’ contact information — Find contact info for the copyright agent at major ISPs and online marketplaces here.
4. WhoIs Search — This tool can provide you with contact information for the owner of a domain name, and can be helpful when determining where to send a DMCA notice.
5. How to Report Copyright Infringement — on popular sites including:
- Alibaba/AliExpress stores (see this guide for helpful tips on getting through AliLegal’s reporting process)
- Ebay (see also: Verified Rights Owner program)
6. Copyright Laws for Collage Artists — If you are a collage artist, you will find this a great resource for learning about copyright laws as they pertain to collage.
7. Remember to carefully document the infringement. Print/save to PDF, take screen captures, record notes with links, dates, etc.
Reverse Image Searches:
Find out where your images end up after you upload them to your website or social media accounts. Who else is using them and in what context? This is an essential tool to locate both copyright infringers selling illegal reproductions of your art, as well as those wonderful fans who are helping grow your audience and spread the word about your artwork!
1. Chrome browser. Right click on any image and choose “Search Google for this image.”
2. Google Search by Image — Click on camera icon in search bar. Enter URL to image, or upload local file.
3. TinEye.com — Another essential reverse image search website.
4. “Who Stole My Pictures?” — Firefox browser extension. With this installed, just right click on an image in Firefox and immediately search for it on Google, TinEye, or several other reverse image tools.
Safe Selling Resources:
1. PayPal Seller Protection Policy — Read the terms! Ship to verified addresses, use a trusted shipping company like FedEx, USPS, or UPS and get shipping/delivery confirmation. If you don’t meet PayPal’s guidelines, you are not protected from scammers who could falsely claim they didn’t receive your shipped artwork.
Note that watermarks can add a level of comfort and attribution with online image sharing, however they can also be removed by a determined infringer and may interfere with a sale by someone who doesn’t realize that the watermark will not appear on the actual painting. If you decide to use watermarks, you can either add them yourself (it takes a little know-how) or use a web service which will create the watermarks for you.
1. watermarquee.com — A simple-to-use website for adding a watermark to your photos. I recommend uploading a web-sized image first, rather than your fullsize image. Always save the watermarked version as a copy and retain your original files!
1. WayBack Machine — Look at past historical snapshots of a website. (How long have they been using your image?)
2. Google Translate — What does this foreign website say? Copy and paste the text here to find out.
3. ArtScams.com — Tips for avoiding common scams against artists.
Do you have a favorite tool as an artist that you find useful? Please share!