Creating work from other people's photographs

I’m curious about how IP/copyright is viewed by this community. I create photography of models. I will spend a lot of time selecting and collaborating with my subjects. I might conduct as many as 50 photo shoots, producing 75,000 images of a single person as we refine our process (and I’ve worked with 100s of people.) I work constantly. Regardless of how “bad” or “good” my artistry is, one of these images is my “best” relatively speaking. How should I feel about someone taking my best image from the year, or even the strongest composition from the last 10 years, which occurred after thousands of hours of my effort? In a few hours they can alter the image digitally and then market it under their own banner, perhaps causing me economic difficulty, creating public confusion as to who the original artist is, and perhaps coloring public perception of what kind of community SuperRare is.

I am an artist whose customer base buys 99% physical artworks, I am very interested in the NFT space but am still new and have sold only a couple of NFTs.

I know there has been quite a bit of conversation about IP/copyright already on this forum and it is an incredibly broad and nuanced topic. I know courts have struggled to define this area of copyright and there are many appeals/reversals that carry on. I am especially interested in hearing some of the views that this community has.




Great conversation topic @bellanudaart! All artists on SuperRare are required to represent the originality and authenticity of each work they mint. To the extent that a work contains unoriginal content, they must represent that they have the authority to mint such content. Most “unoriginal” content on SuperRare usually has some clear fair use defense. But the example you bring up is conceivably not fair use and a potential infringement.

A big question being debated in the NFT space is whether unauthorized copies even harm the the Artist, considering that NFTs provide a clear mechanism of authenticating the “real” work with the unauthorized copies not necessarily taking the market away from the authenticated Artists NFTs. But when source material is being appropriate in the way you describe to create new art passing off as completely original, it could conceivably harm the original Artist’s ability to enter into the NFT space. In such a case, it would be desirable to effectuate a license but arms lengths licenses over the internet may be impractical. For reasons like these, we are exploring ways for Artists like yourself to conceivably be able to contribute photographs into a content licensing pool that SuperRare artists could include in their minted works with payouts on subsequent sales being handled by smart contracts.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE: But if you believe that someone is appropriating your art on SuperRare (or any other Platform) you are able to submit a DMCA complaint

Thanks for your input. Speaking of fair use, the legal experts I’ve listened to (usually on June Grasso’s podcast) say that fair use is one of the most misunderstood concepts in copyright law. Not only do judges and juries not always agree on some of the gray areas, but I’ve noticed some of the misconceptions artists have are so widely held they have reached mythical status. I’d love to see something dedicated to clarity and perhaps SuperRare may end up playing a role.

Not sure if this is the subject, but i have wondered about this also a lot. For instance i always wonder about architecture photography. So the building is a design of a certain architect or a studio. It is made so it creates interesting light plays, shadows and backdrops, so no wonder it is interesting for photographs. Then a photographer takes a photo of a design and makes money off of it. I am well awear the photography and architecture are different practices, and have different products, but at the end the photograph takes somebody else’s design and modifies it to gain fame or fortune. I don’t think architects should hunt down photographers, but its just a taught on copyright.


Awesome, insightful reply.

I was sure I would end up being a contributor to this discussion. Same position as bellanudaart, with photography of my own. The original photo of yours has a copyright value. Once it is published, including digitally, it becomes a part of the Creative Commons. You can control your copyright there as well. Someone using your digital work can create a derivative, either approved by you or not. But if they sell that work (and you find it), you have a legal copyright claim, and legal recourse.

There is a caveat. This generally applies to the subject of an artwork. Secondary subjects are of little consequence. For example: You publish a work of a Tree which includes a toadstool. The toadstool can be used in another work, but the tree is the main subject and cannot be used in another work.

Finally, the most important part of protecting your work. Set your METADATA. The metadata establishes the date of the work.

Good luck, and my best advice is ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’.

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