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Your Questions About Google Images

August 23, 2013

Carol asks…

Can I draw and sell a picture I got from google images, msn images, etc?

I’m a little confused with all the copyright laws. I normally do take my own pictures and draw it but what if I find a picture I like on google images or a site like that, would I be able to draw and sell it since? I know I can draw it for my personal well being but what if I want to sell them???

Please help.

Thank you for whoever does!

Administrator answers:

If you are just copying it outright, or printing it straight from the photo on the net — and selling it — you probably are breaking copyright laws. To avoid that, you should contact the photographer and pay a fee for the use of the image — if the artist agrees to that.

Visual art, like any other art, is an expression of an idea, however abstract it may be. Visual artists create intellectual property. If you reproduce their expression of their ideas, it is the same as selling unauthorized copies of books, music or movies.

The old rule of thumb was that the image had to be changed by at least 30% in order for the person who changes it

to claim ownership. I don’t know if that has changed. Besides, how does one measure that? You might want to read news analyses of the famous red white and blue Obama poster. The poster artist based the image on an Associated Press news photo. There were lots of articles discussing whether he had changed it enough to constitute an original work of art. Another case would be that of the artist Jeff Koons.

Your best bet would be to search Yahoo Answers for “law copyright derivative photograph (or photo). Post it on the law & legal section.

The old saying goes, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” As an artist, I am more angry and less flattered when someone copies my idea.

You should be applauded for caring enough to ask.

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