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August 2014

Copyright and a Non-Exclusive License

Non-Exclusive License v2

Caffeinated Arrangement Black & White Coffeepot and two cups made from Penguin Caffeinated Mints from the Kamm Teapot CollectionMuseums are well aware that ownership of an artwork or craft object does not automatically include ownership of the copyright to the image of the artwork.
The copyright is always retained by the artist or designer (unless there is an agreement otherwise).  

This is why museums and knowledgeable collectors typically ask the artist to agree to a contract for Non-Exclusive Copyright License.

Museums respect copyright and copyright laws as a matter of integrity and legality. A recent letter from the Kamm Teapot Foundation explains this very clearly. I asked if I could share the information on this post. The issues explained below apply to everyone, but it is quite common for museums, collectors, critics and writers to follow these precepts. The general public or enthusiasts may not be as well informed, hence the BAD, and UGLY issues we see in the AGE of the Internet. But there is much learn from the professionals. 

Below is a quote from the letter from the Kamm Teapot Foundation:
"The difficulty for museums" [with current copyright laws] is that it inhibits us from reaching audiences through the usual educational channels. Without your permission, for example, we cannot legally publish educational books, exhibition catalogs, gallery guides, or video tapes that reproduce copyrighted works. The same is true for newsletters, exhibition announcements, and media-covered events in which your work may appear. Further, we cannot authorize other museums wishing to borrow your work to reproduce it for the same purpose. Under the current law, we would have to seek your permission each time we wished to reproduce your work for non-commercial purposes. An inability to secure your permission in advance of a deadline would result in the exclusion of your work from publication."

Chocolate-Obsession-4-chocolate-cupsDo you see how carefully and seriously the Foundation respects the copyright of the artist? I have encountered similar concerns from numerous other museums. 

The purpose of the Kamm Teapot Foundation letter was to arrange a non-exclusive copyright license. It explains:. "This transfer is mutually beneficial since it allows us to present your work in a number of aesthetic and educational context to as broad an audience as possible."

The Kamm Teapot Foundation letter also says, it "does not cover reproduction for purposes that are essentially commercial: e.g., postcards, stationery, posters, and the like."

I thought that was very honorable & generous, but not standard. I have had museums use my artwork for calendars, for example. It is kind of a trade off to have images of your art work distributed to new audiences with the validation of the museum name on their publications. I am usually pleased that my name and the title of the artwork is correctly attributed. Remuneration for using images of an artist's work is most likely negotiated by big name artists more powerful than myself. 

Coffeepot Illy with stack of cups owned by the Kamm Teapot CollectionIn the last few years with the expansion of the internet, museums are more likely to post images online of their collections. Putting images online can get really complicated especially as museums and collections are participating on sites such as Facebook or Pinterest pages. This is in a sincere and justified effort to engage a new audience and appear more relevant to a broader spectrum of society. Usually the images are small (and of relatively low resolution), an effective method to protect your work without watermarks. 

Some museums actually have restrictions on the use of the images, or ask for a fee for using the images. This presents a great difficulty for writers and critics writing about the work. There is no concept of "fair use" in this ultra-sensitive territory....and no easy answers either.

My approach is to always say yes to use of my images for education, writing and publication. After all, my goal when making the work was to share the work with a larger audience without watermarks, and hope that

CUBIST Coffee Service in the Kamm Teapot Collection

Gain perspective about copyright and images 

Pandora's Box or Toolbox - COPYRIGHT of Photographic Images

This post (above) includes the informed opinions of noted author, critic and lecturer Garth Clark. He raises the issues surrounding copyright and images. The difficulty for all writers, critics and lecturer's is legally and ethically gaining access to images. 


Watermarks on photos - Not Good, The Bad and The UGLY

Read the comments on this post as the discussion about watermarks zig zags back and forth. Still three years later, I frown on watermarks. What do you think?


Purchase of an Object versus Purchase of Copyright or Right to Copy

Has anyone ever purchased your art or craft work and then started copying the original
? I've seen this issue discussed online. Or people write to me when they find out about unauthorized copies of their work, especially when other people are profiting from their designs.  The situation is frustrating and nearly impossible to stop - once it is out of control.   

Blue-copyright-backwardsNormally, when a buyer purchases your work, that transaction does not automatically include purchase of the copyright -- unless it is written in a contract.  I've written about a similar parallel with Copyright Ownership vs. Owning the DVD. The inexperienced or naive consumer does not realize that the purchase of the item did not purchase the copyright or right to copy.

Early in the transaction is where information and advocacy can make all the difference.

A common example is when a buyer makes a purchase and then proceeds to duplicate the design or recast the original. The original work could be a painting, print, pair of earrings or ring.    More insidious are the commercial buyers who may buy your work with the premeditated intent to recast or copy for their own mass production and sales -- without your awareness nor permission. 

The simpler the work or more commercial the design, the more likely you will run into this problem. 

Recommendation: If you are concerned about this issue, perhaps a clause in the sales receipt should clarify that duplication of the work is prohibited. It could be written right next to your return policy. 

Another common example is a commission.
The customer asks the maker to create an original design. The expectation is a custom or one of a kind work.  After delivery, the maker learns that the customer is now reproducing duplicates of the original, perhaps for their own use or (much worse) for multiple sales to other parties. In the digital age this is easier than ever.

Recommendation: I'd suggest that your commission contract specify this issue from the very beginning. Protect your work and your designs with clear language. If the customer wants to create multiples from your design then this needs to be clear from the inception of the commission. 

The critical issue here is that instead of selling an item, the maker is now selling a design. Most likely the designer/maker will charge somewhat more than they would for one print, one ring or a pair of earrings. 

Blue-copyright-backwardsWhat if you make work for a store to sell?  Raise the issue up front before it is a problem. Clarify in advance within your contract that the store may not copy this signature design. Purchase of work is not purchase of the copyright.  

A less obvious example, though rarely discussed, may arise when a collector buys your work. Purchase of the artwork or craft object does NOT purchase the rights to the photographic image. Technically, the collector should not be using or selling images of your artwork without your permission.  However, both of you would normally benefit from publicity. Technically, the collector should ask you for permission whenever they plan to publish an image of your work.   [Yikes, it can get really complicated here, as one could bring the photographer into this discussion. In this example we are not. Generally, it is understood that when a photographer photographs your work, you own the rights to use the images. Practically speaking it gets too complicated if the photographer will not let you use the images of your own artwork.]

At the museum level, the photographic image becomes a sensitive issue. At this elite level, museums want to maintain a level of respect and legality rarely understood by the average retail consumer. 

More details in the next post about Non-Exclusive .

Purchase-Does-Not-Buy-Copyright-CreditIf you would like to download the graphic used in this post, Click on this link for downloading the graphic. Then right click to "save image as."
 The image is 360 x 1205 px at 72 dpi ( 171 kb).









Puzzle Props for Your Show Display

Every so often I see a window display that would translate well to the craft show or white tent.  This window was in the San Francisco Airport displaying Hermes merchandise.

The white display stays in the safe territory of "good taste," but departs from standard boring display props. The white puzzle pieces in the larger window were all cut from foam core. Inexpensive, lightweight, and dynamic it would be easy to implement for a craft show booth. Notice how the puzzle pieces break the flat plane by tilting at various angles.

Tilted puzzle pieces allow smaller items to be off the floor on puzzle piece shelves or wedged between pieces.

In the smaller display window white puzzle pieces were both a backdrop, and prop to conceal the plastic watch stand. It also continues the puzzle motif from the larger window.

For this stack of bracelets the white puzzle pieces are both a background, and the foreground of the case. The small puzzle pieces like these are available in a low cost kit for coloring your own puzzle. 

In the second large window displaying men's clothing the puzzle pieces float on the background, and foreground. Notice how the puzzle piece is used as a prop for the tie flying in the wind.

The flying tie adds an animated and enchanting personality. I am sure they just put a wire through the tie so it would extend horizontally; great idea if you sell scarves or any textiles.

Hope you are inspired to update your booth with these display ideas on ASK Harriete . Elevate your craft show display to catch anyone's eye. Stops them in their tracks, right in front of your booth!



OOPS! When Something Goes Wrong - Broken Links & 404 Errors

OOPS-FLOWER-404 series
Does your website have a 404 error page? 
A custom 404 page takes your website to a more professional level. 

What is a 404 page?
A 404 page shows up when something goes wrong on your website such as a broken link or an incorrectly typed URL. Google offers their own explanation at length here.

Why do you need a custom 404 page?
A custom 404 page, can make a problem with your website into a fabulous experience. It is an opportunity to keep your customer, client or fan from becoming frustrated and leave your website. A great 404 page can reinforce your identity as an artist, maker or brand. This presentation below by Renny Gleeson, "The Story of the Page Not Found" explains many of the issues. 

Why did I create a 404 error page?
In an effort to improve my website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) I changed the URL for about 50 pages.  Many more changes are in progress. Changing the URL to an SEO optimized format drastically increased the risk that I might make a mistake resulting in a broken link. Though I created redirects for every change (more information on this soon), even a mistyped URL mistake by a future customer can create a 404 error.

404 To Direct or Redirect?
That is a question.
Without knowing what I was doing, I created a 404 Redirect. In other words, my 404 Error page goes back to my HOME page. This is optional. My 404 Error page could just be a custom page which lets the viewer decide where to go. Think about either option for your own 404 page. 

Future posts will offer examples of great 404 page ideas and cover the technical issues along with optimizing your website for SEO and greater visibility.