Artist Gwenn Seemel's post, "How I make sure my art doesn't get ripped off on the Internet" is a wonderfully calm, sensible and practical approach to living as a 21st century artist in an age where reproduction is a given. Seemel starts from six simple points:
1) Be original.
I aim to make art so original that no one will question who made it.
2) Sell only live art.
I've given up on the idea that art in reproduction is for sale and I focus on making work that is better in person than in reproduction.
3) Pursue credit in innovative ways.
No one has ever claimed a reproduction of my work as their own, but when I've known about images of my work being used without any mention of my name I've approached the situation as a teaching opportunity or used it as an illustrative point.
4) Embrace the copying of style.
Lots of people make originals that resemble mine somewhat, and it makes me feel pretty good about my work.
5) Don't assume that anyone is copying style.
It's usually pretty difficult to be sure that anyone is copying anyone else. That said, if another artist was making and selling works that I was certain were copies of my paintings, I would probably talk about them on my blog. It would drive Internet traffic looking for them to me.
6) Be clear about what you want from the world and from the Internet.
I make sure everyone knows where I stand with regards to copyright. At the bottom of every page of my site, there's a smiley face instead of a ©. Click on the face and it takes you to a page that fully explains my beliefs.
Seemel then goes on to explain these steps in detail, talking about her mindset as she approaches the net, her public, other artists, her customers and her work, and how this approach makes it possible for her to get paid, get along, and be happy and artistically fulfilled: "Everything from screaming about your intellectual property rights and threatening lawyers to shrink-wrapping your images online and making them not right-click-able is just burying your head in the sand. An open source world is the one we've always lived in: it's the one we built."
(via David Isenberg)