Will Showing Your Art Risk Copycats Ripping It Off?


Over the years, artists have told me of a quandary they’ve found themselves in.

On the one hand, they want to be able to show their art on the internet where prospective buyers or licensees can see it.

On the other hand, they’re afraid that if they do so, then unscrupulous companies, here or abroad, might steal the art and use it for their products.

That’s a common concern, particularly in these days of Chinese knock-off’s, but if you stop people from seeing your art, how ever will you be able to license it?

How Not To Sell Art

Some of the art licensing agencies in my business have password-protected sites and, once you’re in, you can only see very thin, weak, and small images that are, let’s say, less than compelling.

What if you went shopping in a mall, saw an interesting store and wanted to go in, only to find that you had to get a special password from the owner first before entering the store?

Then when you did go in, all the company had on the shelves were very small, washed-out photos of products?

How long would it take for you to scratch your head, give us in disgust, and then rush out to go somewhere else?

What Creative Directors Want to See

Any creative or licensing director will want to see what your art really looks like, clear and clean and bright, and will in that instant of first viewing it, consider whether it might work on their products.

Give them a poor image and you won’t have a chance.

And remember that if you send your art to reputable companies, they wouldn’t take the very dumb risk of knocking off your art, because you could always hit them with a lawsuit for damages, and there goes not only their time and expenses, but also the reputation they they’ve worked years to build up.

Chinese Knock-off’s

Some of the “bad hats” in China are going to knock off art no matter what anyone does.  That’s a given.

I’ve even read that 80% of the operating systems on Chinese government computers are pirated, illegal versions of Microsoft’s operating systems.  There’s seems to be no end to it.

So what artists and agencies and copyright owners have to do is to remain vigilant, and whenever they find goods on sale in the United States that have their own unlicensed artwork, they either need to have a lawyer write a letter or even take it further, and the problem get will get solved.

Maximize Your Artwork’s Licensing Potential

I believe in presenting the very clearest, sharp and compelling images I can to potential licensees. 

That maximizes my chances of licensing artwork to them.

I want them to be excited about the images from the first instant they see them.

That way I win, they win, and the artist definitely wins.

So I suggest that you create the best art you can, be sure to register your copyrights with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress, and then just promote the heck out of your artwork.

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(c) Lance J. Klass.  All Rights Reserved.  This article may not be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the author. 

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