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Ursula

Where does flattery end and straight up art theft begin?

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Hey Guys,

So I've been thinking on this for a long long while. When tattooers or other artists put out a line drawing book, or flash set which they are selling for cash what are the rules? Obviously, tracing some Sailor Jerry lines and selling them as your own isn't cool. Even though many of his line drawings are based on the people who came before him. How about those who just change those lines slightly and include them in their books? Is it only kosher for tattooers to, for example, copy a sheet of Rollo lines and sell that flash as 'designs by Rollo colour by so and so'? Sometimes it makes me feel weird when I see non-tattooers selling tattoo flash, especially when it's not drawn by them. But then I realize that when I sell my embroideries I'm doing the same thing. However it's not being hung up on a wall to sell to customers as tattoos.

Who really 'owns' these images? Do the people who hold the copyrights to say the Jerry stuff actually own those designs?

How much do you think a design needs to be changed to call it your own? Or will it always be that Rollo reaper no matter how much you've changed it?

If you draw something by looking at an old image (rather than trace it) is it then your own? Or is it just your rendition of it?

Another example, when someone puts out say a book like the Doc King stencils or the Long Beach Pike stencils, are they just publishing a book of stencils that they actually own? Or are they contacting the next of kin and asking permission? What happens when the 'if a person's been dead for 50 years their work loses it's copyrights' thing comes into play?

p.s. before people start jumping all over me to say 'no you can't put out a book you're not a tattooer and you don't own shit' - I'm not trying to put out a book, just something that I've wondered about. I've had discussions with people about this and it seems everyone has their own ideas of what is keeping the tradition alive and what is just plain old art theft by someone who's not good enough to make their own shit.

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This is a vintage flash re-paint I recently completed:

fairy-215x300.jpg

It's different enough from the original that I would call it my own, but I wouldn't sell it (possibly trade though)

This is an 'original' painting I did using a vintage reference:

prolady-211x300.jpg

I consider that "all me" in the sense that you wouldn't recognize the source unless I put the two next to each other. This one I'd feel fine selling and trading. I reference old books that are usually pre-1910, so copyright is usually not an issue. But stuff drawn and painted from flash is just practice for me.

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well if the work itself has not been registered before 1978, then by all means, it's public domain. no rights are retained by anyone, and anyone can freely use it if they can obtain a copy of it (though there can be restrictions placed on it if the work is owned by a collector, institution, etc.; they can choose who can and who cannot receive a copy from them and what projects will be approved). any and all works dated before 1923, and where copyright has not been renewed, are also public domain. also, a lot of government works are also public domain based on public interest, but that's a whole different story. you are, techinically speaking, still supposed to apply for permissions to whoever owns the item in it's original form, but there are loopholes when things have been published and if you're making an artist rendition of the original piece.

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thanks Dave, I looked for posts like this but somehow didn't see that one!

Kev, your paintings are really nice :) I especially like the second one.

MsRad, thanks for the info, def clears up some stuff for me regarding non-tattoo things (i have a collections of antique embroidery designs i've been wondering about as well, and your post pretty much covers that)

and now i'm off to go read the thread Dave pointed me to!

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Sigh,

This discussion never really goes anywhere when it's over-analysed but I can't resist adding my 2p.

With regards to tattooing, it's more of a moral issue -something you feel is right or wrong.

From my point of view copyright exists and is useful purely from a financial point of view. To protect or safeguard earnings. Intellectual copyright does the same thing, it just doesn't need as much paperwork.

I shudder at the thought of copy written tattoo designs. Actually, most of the better designs/ideas/compositions are folk art, like nursery rhymes or bedtime stories. The best ones are archetypes and you can't copyright them.

If you understand the mechanics of logic and use it's arguments to your advantages, you can 'prove' that black is white. I see many theoretical discussions (such as this) in the same manner. It doesn't matter how much you talk about it and offer examples, the true result doesn't change, regardless how the argument turns out.

Tattooing doesn't need copyright. We stole it all anyway. The more honest of us will pass it on to someone else.

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Thanks stewart, I pretty much agree with you on the "if you feel something is wrong then it probably is" idea. I went and read the thread Dave pointed out and it's pretty much all there...

So sorry guys for posting something we've already totally covered!

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there so many grey areas to copy right law. but copy right can be renewed by family members of the original artist(that might have changed though). you also have to consider if the artist left an estate then all works are property of the estate until given away or sold and if something goes on public domain the sole rights to it can be bought and it becomes the full property of the buyer.

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as far as reproducing flash goes...i see it as a nice way to connect too and understand the roots of tattooing but i dont see it as the art of the person who reproduced it but its definitely their art

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Yup! It's something I've done in the past and hope to continue. I just havn't been offering that service lately because all my supplies and machines are in FL and I'm stuck in Canada. When I do conventions I have premade patches I sell and I also offer custom work ;)

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Thanks stewart, I pretty much agree with you on the "if you feel something is wrong then it probably is" idea. I went and read the thread Dave pointed out and it's pretty much all there...

So sorry guys for posting something we've already totally covered!

LST is growing and there are soooo many threads on every topic, at this point i dont think its uncommon for the same topic to get a new thread with a new name!

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