Blog / 2011 / My Copyright and My Copy Place

January 13, 2011

Like many artists, I have a copy place where I’m a regular. I make most prints of my work there and also use their services to ship paintings. It’s safe to say that many of the people who work there don’t know my name but they do know my work.

Recently I went to the shop to get my New Year’s cards printed, and imagine my surprise when the manager told me he’d protected my work from copyright violation just a few days before. He was rather pleased with himself and gave me all the details about the culprit so I know who the criminal was.

It was one of my clients!

Apparently, she came into the copy place with one of the cards that I’d printed for her—I always make a few greeting cards out of commissioned paintings as a gift for my clients. She wanted to reproduce the card exactly as it was, but the manager told her he wouldn’t do it unless she obtained a written permission from me.

painted portrait of a teenage girl
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches

Through this experience, I learned two important lessons:

  1. The people who work at my copy place respect my work.
  2. As a copyright law radical I am opposed to what they did, but by protecting my intellectual property they showed me that they believe my work is unique and valuable.

  3. I need to explain to my clients more fully my views about copyright.
  4. If the client knew for certain that I would have happily given her high resolution digital images of the work or the PDF from which I had printed the original card, she would have come to me directly. Instead, she was trying to make photocopies of a print. To my mind, that’s just one more reason to be free with images of my work: I would rather have high quality prints floating around than reproductions of copies.

    The whole situation reminded me what protecting intellectual property means to people and how far we still have to go in the free culture revolution!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


To receive an email every time I publish a new article or video, sign up for my special mailing list.


If you enjoyed this post, Ko-fi allows you to donate. Every dollar you give is worth a bajillion to me!