Copyright Visual Arts

Some of you asked me, when am I going to post new paintings? 😀 The truth is that I delayed the new posts in purpose for a very simple, yet important reason: Copyright issues.

I took a few weeks off last December to do some remodeling around the apartment. I did not paint, but I did read and listened to instructional videos about marketing, licensing and sharing art online. To tell you the truth, the information was overwhelming.

In short, I decided to copyright every painting I create from now on.

Below, I included a list of sites to explain some of the whys and the hows in connection to this subject. I e-filed my first copyright a couple of weeks ago through the US official site. The step by step process was easy to follow and they do have a link “How to Register a Work“. Nothing to be afraid of 😀 ! One thing I should mention is that it costs $35 for each time you submit a request. However, the good news is that you may include multiple unpublished pieces of art in one single application.

The keyword is “unpublished“.

To make it simple:

–  Published Art: A single application must be file.

–  Unpublished Art: As long as all pieces have never been published, you may include it in one single application.

This is the reason I am holding off on posting new paintings. My plan is to file an application by the end of each month. I also want to copyright some of my published pieces, but that will take time.

Remember, this includes photography, illustration and any type of visual art.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week! 😀


Resourceful sites:

19 thoughts on “Copyright Visual Arts

  • Cindy, thanks so much for your great insight.

    This is definitely more complicated than anticipated. Maybe, I should do what other artists are doing… like Pauline above… and just let it be, hope for the best and trust that all will work out fine. Copyrighting everything could get crazy and very expensive. I do not want to spend time searching the web for stolen pieces or worry that someone might get away with it. I wish it was different, but like the songs, movies, etc, there is so much one can do. The only thing in my power is that I can choose how to feel about it… So, no matter what happens now, in the future or whether I decide to copyright my work or not… I choose to be in peace 😀


  • That’s essentially why I’ve not posted much new work either. Most of last year I was regrouping, trying to figure out how best to proceed to promote my art online, at a time when infringement has gotten out of control.

    Over and over I hear the excuse that if it’s online it’s in the public domain…wrong! That’s a huge internet myth, and perhaps more infringers need to have a judge explain to them the difference between public domain and public display.

    And, besides the infringement magnet that Print On Demand sites are, when a person sells reprints that way, it’s really hard to sell actual paintings, too, when one can’t show an image of them online. What other business or profession is told that they can’t show their wares online to market themselves or else they must expect people to just take them for free? It’s like asking stores to force customers to ask for everything at the counter, before they even know what to ask for, or else just give it away. Senseless.

    I have received contradictory info from attorneys on registration, as well as “publication.” Most agree, however, that being able to show an image of original (actual) art you are selling is not the same as publication where you offer reprints, licensing, or other options that essentially mean “copies” are available. But most artists, to be safe, just don’t want to risk the hair splitting definitions. Contradictory info on registering a group of unpublished images also held me up. Registering a group saves money but is very restrictive for Visual Arts, (less so for photos apparently).

    Additionally, if the Chinese knockoff industry is a threat to your work, you have to register the work with US Customs, another $190 on top of copyright registration, and then hope that if imports of knockoffs of your work happen, they will be caught. What are the odds, with all the shipping containers coming into the US? Ugh!


  • So this is what you’ve been up to Patricia – now we know why you haven’t been posting your latest paintings? Excellent information about copywriting and is giving me a lot of information to consider as I go forward. You’ve moved very quickly on the marketing-business end of things. Very smart, now why doesn’t this surprise me.


    • Hi Mary, it is funny you mentioned that I move quickly. In my mind, I am going at snail speed when it comes to these things. In fact, when I was reading about it, I thought to myself… I should have known this…. And to tell you the truth, a part of me would just like to paint and let someone else do the business side of things. On the other hand, I do love sharing the information with you guys. Knowing it might shed some light in the matter, makes it all worthwhile. Besides, I do have an analytical mind begging me to feed it, which in turn helps me do what needs to be done.. hehee

      Phew! That was confusing! Hahaha

      So, what i am trying to say is that, I am glad this helped and I do look forward to your webpage.

      Have a wonderful week Mary!


  • Is the copywriting and the letter of cease adn desist good only in the States? Or is it good anywhere in the world? Just curious. What do they give you for your $35? Because if I were to copywrite my work, then have to pay to fight about it in court (and no guarantee of winning or getting that money back), then I’d have to say I’m with Pauline. Maybe public shaming would work – publish online what was done, who did it (with links), etc. If people aren’t called to account, they won’t change. And change is obviously needed.

    Thanks for a good article. It will be nice to see your work once you can post it. ~ Linne


    • I am not 100% sure, but I believe once you file a copyright on a document or visual art, it is protected worldwide. Not sure how it works if someone out of the States copy your work. China for example, it would be a mission to bring them to justice.. heehee — I need to keep digging. Now, your situation is a bit different. Not sure how that would work 😦

      Thanks for visiting! 😀


  • I have to admire you for your tenacity in following through on all of this. For myself, I agree with thecontentedcrafter…people will steal no matter what. I wrote and illustrated a couple children’s stories a few years ago and published them on a book site. A year later I came across someone who copied my premise entirely and only changed her characters. I wrote to the web site and showed blatant examples of copyright infringement and all they did was make me jump through hoops and pass the buck from this person to that person. It was ridiculous. I finally just pulled the books off the website. 😦


  • Before I shared in 2010, From August 2009, I typed up and prepared 39 manuscripts and copyrighted them. It is a wise thing to do. I have a lot more to do also, many which I have not shared yet, way to stay on top of it! We will see you when you are ready…blessings!


  • Pati, I’m missing seeing your paintings! Here are my immediate thoughts on all this information.

    I think it is a sad world when we have to add this to our list of things to do- and even then it doesn’t stop the folk who steal from stealing………. You have to find them and spend even more of your hard earned pennies to maybe temporarily stop them from making money off your talent.

    I also think that the cost of registering is exhorbitant – [is this another example of the artist being ripped off, by a government agency this time?] What assurances/insurances/help do you get for your $35?.

    The world is full of things to fear and information to make us more afraid – I decided long ago not to join in with that – I’d rather live with trust, so I decided not to bother. If someone wants to steal, they will and that is then their bad karma.

    But then I don’t have the amount of fabulous paintings that you have! 🙂


    • Pauline, I love your sincerity. I can count on it, whether or not you agree with me. And yes, it is sad that some people steal images from all artists. It seems its part of the online world.

      I also agree that $35 could add up quickly. More so, if it is for each upload. This choice is not for everyone. However, the way I will do it, hopefully, it would bring the cost to $1 per image. If you think about it… is not that bad.

      And yes, it is a hassle, and a distraction away from creating art. I wish I’d feel the same way you do. For now, I think this is something I need to do. Besides, if I decide to licence my work in the future, it’ll all be done already.. heehee

      Thanks for the compliment! 😀


  • Interesting! I kind of knew about this before. What makes a work UNpublished. Does that mean everything we put in our blog posts are “published”? How about in an Etsy shop or anywhere else online like Facebook or Flicker?


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