In the era of digital age, we are overloaded with images, photos and articles across the world wide web and social media platforms. But can an image or an artwork or even a product design seen on the internet be copied, used or shared without credit due or any other considerations about Copyright? The answer is simply no. One has to check who that image belongs to and if it can be shared with permission or if it requires procurement for limited or unlimited use or else one can end up being in violation of the applicable legislation.
As a full-time self employed artist I come across these challenges on a daily basis, which I must point out, are quite frustrating. After 12 years on my journey as an artist, I am happy to see that my passion for the dying Maltese Tiles (at that time) are now a trend and back in different markets. I am also happy to see that other artists and brands have developed Maltese Tile inspired products too. This only shows how much the trend I started has grown and that a part of our heritage has been revived!
I have decided to embark on a mission to generate awareness and educate our society at large about Copyright, which is actually protected by law but only the minority are aware of this and understand the implications of the legislation. I believe it is time everyone understands this, especially our younger generations.
To put it in layman’s terms, if an artist such as myself has created an artwork, which for the sake of the argument is inspired by Maltese tiles or other heritage icons, and the artist has drawn and created her own artwork interpreted with colours, hues and shapes, then as an artwork, it is protected by Copyright and no individual or business entity should make use of it, sell it, or alter it in any way without obtaining prior consent from the Copyright owner ( I am not referring to the traditional Maltese Tiles Patterns and colours found in traditional homes – no one can claim ownership there). I am referring to my own artworks of Maltese tile patterns such as my Pop Collection and my Tile Collage design concept). Copying the artwork, especially when done for commercial use, without authorization or agreement from the copyright, design right or trademark owner can lead to legal action.
Furthermore, sharing an artwork that belongs to someone may seem harmless at first glance but it is a known fact that one should be diligent and if sharing, should either share from the original source or give credit to the copyright owner or obtain permission from the copyright owner before sharing. It is all about being ethical and responsible and at this stage, understanding the law and the rights of the copyright owner, which is very much underestimated and to some extent disrespected both for artists, designers and photographers or brand owners alike.
In the market, there is room for all types of players, from concept and idea generators to followers, who continue to develop the trends and the market itself – it all depends on one’s strategy and ambition for their product and market. Once a trend is created, healthy market dynamics take charge and the market develops – it’s the rule of the game. However one has to engage some basic business ethics and professionalism here and this starts from making our society aware of Copyright law and Intellectual Property law.
Let’s keep on learning and let’s be respectful to Copyright owners and to each other!
Disclaimer – I am not a legal professional and I advise you to consult with your legal advisor.
Stephanie Borg® Stephanie Borg® is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.
This article is part of the Copyright Awareness Campaign by Stephanie Borg®