A Spring to Remember -  2002
A Spring to Remember - 2002

Painting parties seem to be gaining popularity these days.  A painting party is a class where attendees bring their own art supplies, pay a fee and copy a work of art by another artist.  Every one copies the same artwork and takes home their own version of it.  It sounds like a fun setting to get together with others and learn a little bit about art.  However, organizers of these events should take some time to determine if the works of art they are providing to the class are protected by copyright law.  

Some of these businesses are using works of art by contemporary artists, living artists whose work is protected by intellectual property laws.  I came across one of my own paintings on a site called Creative Canvas AZ.  Apparently, they have used my painting entitled A Spring to Remember in their painting class.  I did not give them permission to take and use an image of my painting in this way.  I did contact them through two email addresses on their website.  They basically ignored me, because the image has not been removed nor did anyone respond to my emails.

I recognize several other artworks on their site that were copied from other artists' work.  Evidently, they are copying these images from some of the print on demand sites on the internet.

There are many older works of art in the public domain that are okay to copy without permission.  Here are a couple of articles on the subject of public domain.

Artist's Copyright FAQ: What is 'in the Public Domain'?

Welcome to the Public Domain

I'm not trying to ruin anyone's fun, but I am asking organizers of these painting parties to take the time to research the art first.  Show some respect for the artist who created that work of art.  Some artists may not mind having their art copied, but take the time to contact them and ask first.  Furthermore, if you ever use someone else's art on your website, be sure to give credit to the artist and a link back to that artist's site.

One more thing - copying works of art can be a great learning experience, but it's much more fun to create your own!  :)

NOTE:  It has been brought to my attention since writing this post that copying works of art for learning purposes is not actually copyright infringement.  However, it might be copyright infringement if the teacher or student is making money by selling or exhibiting the copied work.  At the very least, I think the person who is hosting these parties needs to have a basic understanding of copyrights and explain this to the students as part of the class.  They also need to attribute the artwork to the artist who created it.  

Topics: painting