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It sounds like Melissa's had a very painful learning experience. Do we really need to make it any more painful than it's already been? Yes, she should have realized that artwork must have some source, even if it appears as an icon on some random site. Yes, she should have been aware of the copyright issues involved. And yes, she should be glad that Yasmine was so understanding. It sounds like she gets it; enough. Really, though, these are lessons that all artists/designers have to learn at some point. Many of us are lucky enough to learn it in a class or the like rather than by an experience such as this, but sorry, folks--none of us was born knowing copyright law. In fact, most people require multiple law school courses and several years of research and experience in law practice to really understand it. I'm not saying that I fully understand copyright law either--not by a long shot--but I've certainly made it my business to learn as much about it as possible. (When you're interested in retro-style design, copyright issues are migraine-inducingly complicated.) So, I'm off the topic of Melissa now--I believe that it was wrong, but was an innocent mistake, and that she knows better now, and will probably drive herself crazy trying to avoid ever making the same mistake again, poor thing. But--and it's a BIG 'but'--one thing that makes the whole topic so much more complex? We artists/designers tend to see copyright law as being what we WANT it to be, in our own little ideal world, rather than what it actually is. I personally made the mistake of thinking that a reasonable knowledge of copyright law would be enough, when I started selling my own designs. Shyeah! The companies I sell to have much much much more draconian rules than those found in copyright law. I'm not saying I object to this, I'm just saying that there's so much more to learn than most people imagine. (And it's a shame that creative people now have to think like lawyers, sigh.) Have I infringed copyrights according to the law? Not to my knowledge (note the lawyer-speak). Have I had to withdraw a piece of art from consideration for sale because of worries about living up to a company's copyright regulations? Yup! I was probably being paranoid, but if I were accused of a copyright violation, my career would take a huge hit, so why risk it? (In fact, I'm so paranoid now that a month after being accepted as a contributor to a stock illustration place, I have yet to submit a single design--I'm obsessively checking every possible detail first.) The thought of having your work stolen is indeed a nightmare for an artist/designer. But... (and keep in mind that I'm no longer talking about the case in point here) art is not born in a vacuum. Art is inspired by other art. It's impossible to keep your art pure of influences from other artists' work. How many artists, for example, have done a Warhol-esque piece of work? I know I've certainly seen several skillion take-offs in my lifetime. When you were taking that art history class, don't you remember being told that this Italian renaissance artist's work was copied by that Northern renaissance artist, who later went on to create such and so amazing world-famous piece? Do you think that the Mona Lisa would have existed without Giotto? If all the European artists hadn't started stealing perspective techniques left and right from each other, where would we be? I think we all need to unclench a little, and remember how many famous artists were inspired by OTHER famous artists. I'm not saying that stealing ideas and calling them your own is a good thing; not at all. I AM saying that if many of today's artists got their wish as far as copyright law interpretation goes, art/design/photography as we know it would fizzle and die. I'd certainly never be allowed to create art again, because I've seen other people's art, and therefore might unintentionally make use of some technique I learned, or use a similar composition, or make a new piece of art in an old style. Shyeah. Pardon my Anglo-Saxon, but: beallucas! Art thrives on inspiration. ...And can you tell that I've watched the copyright discussions ad infinitum?
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