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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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What rights as an artist do I have when selling my work online?

Resolved Question:

What rights as an artist do I have when selling my work online? Must I actually go to a lawyer and get a copyright on each work of art? I have had problems with both galleries who refuse to have insurance protecting the artist from theft of their work. And then, my insurance man tells me it is incumbent on the gallery to provide guarantee of no theft.

One other problem arose over a year ago when I put some of my artwork on Snapfish to put into an album which I ordered. Within a few months I noticed that BING, had taken one of my artworks and used it for one of their ads, altering a small portion of the art so as to be able to say, it's not exactly like what you did...we made a minor change in colors!!

Is there any kind of protection an artist can get to prevent theft...either online of in a physical gallery? I have had art stolen now both in gallery settings as well as online. Pls advise me of rights, or don't I have any when it comes to protecting my income?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :
You can absolutely register a work with the copyright bureau, but this is not required to be able to send a cease and desist letter or seek an injunction against the infringer. As the owner of the copyright (even without registering the copyright) you have the sole right to sell that or otherwise assign the copyright. Now that being said, if you post a picture online (say through Flickr, Instagram, etc...) it's possible that you (by agreeing to the terms of service of that site) could have agreed to allow them to use your images for commercial purposes. You would need to look at the actual terms of service to see if you granted them a "license" to be able to use that image.
ScottyMacEsq :

Furthermore, you don't need a lawyer to file for a copyright. Here's information on how to do it on your own, without the need of a lawyer: http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html

ScottyMacEsq :

Once you have it registered, you can actually sue for damages and attorney fees and costs (which you could not do if it was a common law copyright). So you do have additional rights to be able to seek an injunction if you have the registered copyright. Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

I HAD CONTACTED SNAPFISH to ask them if they had given my pics to BING and they claimed that they did not....the question still remains then how the heck did BING get my artwork...I can via Snapfish sign up for them to sell my artwork and I would receive residuals, but after finding my art in a major ad, I figured that Snapfish had taken me for a ride and they had already benefitted from my artwork and rec'd money for it!!

ScottyMacEsq :

I see. I can only speculate as to how Bing got your images, and if this was not pursuant to a valid license agreement, then Bing could be legally liable in this situation,.

ScottyMacEsq :

Again, your rights would be limited if the images were not registered with the copyright office.

ScottyMacEsq :

They would need to be registered, at which point you could sue and seek damages, attorney fees, costs, etc...

ScottyMacEsq :

You can still seek an injunction against them from using it in the future (without registering it) and you should absolutely send a demand letter informing them of this if they don't stop. But only registering will allow you to seek damages and attorney fees, etc...

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!u

ScottyMacEsq :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11907
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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