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Work copied as tattoo


#1

My daughter pointed out to me today that one of the top Google images
for “Celtic Cross” is one of my designs, but it is rendered as a
tattoo.

http://tattoodesignspictures.com/images/celtic-cross-tattoo-1.jpg

I may have given permission for this use of my design in this case.
if people ask I say OK. But I really don’t keep track.

It doesn’t bother me to see my designs used like this, but I do have
to consider my copyright. The principle is that if you ignore
copyright infringements the courts are less likely to go along with
enforcing it later on. I am not so sure if looking the other way for
tattoos is going to hurt my cause if I try to keep some other jeweler
from copying my design.

Here is what I am thinking about. How would it be if I give blanket
permission for tattoos with the condition that if the pictures are
published on a webpage that they include a simple statement like:
“original design copyright Stephen Walker” and a link to my website.
That way I benefit from the backlink and I might be able to get some
cooperation holding on to my copyrights from people who are most
likely going to do whatever they want to anyways. Is this opening
some kind of Pandora’s Box that I have not anticipated?

Stephen Walker


#2

Pretty design Stephen! …with all the due respect however, I am
curious what make this ancient design yours? I am sure I have seen
similar designs all over the place… the question here is can
anyone really claims royalties on ancient designs?


#3

Not meaning to open a can of copyright worms here, Stephen, but your
design is nearly identical to the large standing Celtic cross on this
page:

http://www.a-weddingday.com/planning/celticlovesymbols.html

Scroll down nearly to the bottom of the page. Your design moves the
dove from the center to the top and replaces it with a cabochon. The
topic of copyright comes up frequently on Orchid so I’m sure one of
our experts will chime in.

Dorothy


#4
Not meaning to open a can of copyright worms here, Stephen, but
your design is nearly identical to the large standing Celtic cross
on this page: 
http://www.a-weddingday.com/planning/celticlovesymbols.html 

Thanks for pointing that out Dorothy. The photo you refer to is a
bronze alter cross I made for the Presbyterian Church in Trenton NJ
several years ago. It was copied from my website

http://www.celtarts.com/celtic_alter_cross.htm

This is exactly the problem I am trying to deal with. Images of my
work are turning up everywhere without any acknowledgment that I am
the author.

The two other crosses on that page are also from my website. The one
on the lower right is mine also. It has been knocked off by
manufacturers in the UK and Indonesia. The UK manufacturer agreed to
drop it from the range when confronted and was very apologetic. I
cannot get a bead on the Indonesian manufacturer, but I have had it
removed from EBay on several occasions. The cross on the lower left
is a photo of a copy of a cross based on the Farr Stone, Pictish
cross from Scotland. This was also made by me, but it is a public
domain design. The original pattern was traded to me by a Scottish
jeweler. I gave him a mold for another cross based on the another
historical cross.

Stephen Walker


#5
Not meaning to open a can of copyright worms here, Stephen, but
your design is nearly identical to the large standing Celtic cross
on this 

Worms out of can and lining up

http://www.celebrateyourfaith.com/Stone_Wall_Crosses_C112.cfm
http://www.celtarts.com/celtic.htm

Lisa


#6

Hi Lisa,

Worms out of can and lining up
http://www.celebrateyourfaith.com/Stone_Wall_Crosses_C112.cfm
http://www.celtarts.com/celtic.htm 

The first link you show is mostly crosses manufactured by McHarp in
Texas. They are all models of historical monuments. I actually sell
these in my store. Other than the obvious overall shape, which is an
ancient part of the culture and public domain, I would not see enough
similarity to the tattoo to think it negates my claim of authorship
of the tattoo design.

The second link you offer is actually MY website. The success of
this page is why my images are all over the internet. If you scroll
down to the hit counter you will see that since 1996 this page has
had almost a million hits. The entire article has been shamelessly
copied in part or whole for more than a decade. Such is the internet!

Restating the original question; Is it better to try to get
acknowledgment and back links from these copied images and tolerate
the copying as long as it is not being done as knock-off jewelry? Or
is an easy going approach just going to result in gifting my designs
to the public domain if I like it or not?

Stephen Walker


#7

Forgot to mention… Nice work Stephen.

Lisa


#8

Hello Mark,

Pretty design Stephen!....with all the due respect however, I am
curious what make this ancient design yours? I am sure I have seen
similar designs all over the place..... the question here is can
anyone really claims royalties on ancient designs? 

I do not claim the shape or convention of the Celtic Cross in
general as being mine. That would be silly. But the composition of
proportion, and symbolic details on THIS one are my original
creation.

Below is the statement from my website addressing originality and
copyright. Several other modern Celtic artists use the same
statement. It was forged out of a discussion on a Yahoo Group for
Celtic artists.

Celtic designs have an ancient heritage, but most of the designs on
this site are original or are old designs re-worked for contemporary
artistic use. Because Celtic Art often is used to make a link to the
distant past it is often misunderstood that genuine designs can only
be copied from antiquity. This is unfortunate because artistic
integrity demands that the designer create a new manifestation of the
art, unique to present times.

As a living art form, Celtic Art can only be sustained by pursuing
the goal of mastery of the creative process that ultimately results
in new and imaginative work. The Celtic jewelry and artwork shown
here is not an imitation of historical Celtic Art but rather an
affirmation that new and original creations are authentic
continuations of that artistic heritage.

The work illustrated on these pages represent the creative effort of
Stephen Walker and various other craftsmen and designers. With the
exceptions of several of the simplest knots, none of these designs
should be considered public domain. It is commonly and wrongly
supposed that all Celtic designs are ancient and therefore free from
copyright restrictions.

The truth is that new, traditionally correct designs often look as
if they could be very old, but they are none-the-less intellectual
property of the artist.

Stephen Walker


#9

If I were you I would consult with an attorney on this as assigning
partial rights can be tricky.

Jim
James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#10

Hi Stephen,

This is exactly the problem I am trying to deal with. Images of my
work are turning up everywhere without any acknowledgment that I
am the aupose of the internet, doesn't it. 

One way to look at this is that your work is respected & well liked.

However, that’s one problem with the internet. Anything that shows
up on it is subject to being copied & used in many ways the owner
never thought of or intended. Usually he’s never given credit for it
either.

There are programs available that make it possible to put a ‘water
mark’ identifying an item with your mark. Don’t know how permanent
these are. With all the unethical stuff that goes on there’s
probably a hacker that can get rid of the water mark. The only safe
way to keep pictures of your work from getting into the wrong hands
seems to be never put them on the internet. Kind of defeats the
purpose of the internet.

Dave


#11

stephen, besides all your crosses on your website, the colum cille
and the heron bowl is very beautiful


#12

Has anyone ever successfully pursued a copyright claim on a celtic
cross?. I suspect it would be very difficult to do.


#13

Hi Stephen,

Restating the original question; Is it better to try to get
acknowledgment and back links from these copied images and
tolerate the copying as long as it is not being done as knock-off
jewelry? Or is an easy going approach just going to result in
gifting my designs to the public domain if I like it or not?

I missed the original post, but this issue is interesting. It’s my
understanding that a copyright originator must vigorously pursue
infractions of their work, else, they are de facto acknowledging the
’copiers’ right to copy. Or rather, they give up their own right. So
short form, if you tolerate rip-offs, you basically lose your
copyright rights.

I know J. Russell (mother/daughter pendant) has fought this battle
time and again. Knock-offs are not tolerated, it’s still her design.
http://www.janelrussell.com/about-janel-russell.html

I would say the best practical approach is to (a) file your
copyright immediately, and (b) send your legal letter to anyone
infringing. Personally I would stop right there (the Life’s Too
Short clause:-).

Of course only a lawyer can state with some surety if this is enough
to protect your rights to your own design.

Good luck,
Pete


#14
Has anyone ever successfully pursued a copyright claim on a celtic
cross?. I suspect it would be very difficult to do. 

As difficult as pursuing a copyright claim on a Celtic torque?

Willis Hance


#15

Hello, Stephen.

I agree it is quite disappointing seeing one of our creations used
by others without any reference. But it may be quite a tough job
getting copyrights of any image you publish on the internet - it is
huge enough for us to get some control… Since you do not bother to
see your creations used, you may write down on every picture/image
you publish something like this: “if you liked this image and intends
to use it, please, mention my name and my internet address as the
person who created it”. Another way is trying to sell the pictures of
your jewels to sites like imagebank ou istockphoto. As far as I know,
if someone buys the picture, you get some money. I know this is not
you “plan A”, but it may be less frustrating… On time: it is quite
easy to “erase” watermark after downloading pictures that have it.
Success! Best regards, Evelise

Gonsales Pimenta Azimonte.
Evelise Gonsales Pimenta


#16
As difficult as pursuing a copyright claim on a Celtic torque? 

I’m sorry, about an hour after sending that I realized that in the
setting of this thread, it didn’t read anything at all towards how I
meant it. For whatever reason, I was thinking of a copyright on the
idea of two crossing lengths, perhaps flared at the ends, perhaps
crossed by a circle, and covered in knotwork. Something vague and
generic that says, “This is what I’m doing, no one else can do
anything like it now!” Something ridiculous like David Yurman’s
patent on twisted wire torques.

That is, of course, nothing like the situation described in every
single post except the one I quoted. I swear, if there was a delete
button for Orchid posts, I would have much rather have just pressed
that to save myself the embarassment of writing this beast.

Why would designing a piece of jewelery along historical precedents
make it public domain? There’s a very big difference between two
people making crosses in similar styles derived from an historic
example and one person making an exact copy of another’s design.

Beyond the fact that that particular cross is quite a distinctive
design, the tattoo copied it all the way down to the amythest. While
the tattoo artist evidently had permission in this case, if another
jewler did the same thing it would be a serious problem.

While I don’t know much of anything about legally protecting your
copyrights, adding a tasteful watermark to the corner of all the
images will probably go a long way towards slowing down marauding
internet picture-pirates. Case in point, on its original site there
were three photos of the alter cross side by side. Two were
watermarked, so the wedding site took the third, even though the
image was of a lower resolution.

Willis Hance


#17

Willis brings up Yurman and I think the lesson is that to get this
kind of legal protection, the way you get it is to pay for it. And it
is expensive.

Something ridiculous like David Yurman's patent on twisted wire
torques. 

Yurman is aggressively prosecuting a Trademark, rather than a patent
or a copyright. It is more or less the same idea, but legally more
powerful. How his lawyers are getting away with it is a very
impressive mystery. I suspect the real magic is deep pockets.

Yurman is claiming he has exclusive rights to manufacture twisted
wire torcs in a very broad and general sense. As absurd as this seems
considering the thousands of years of history behind this jewelry
form, he has been successful. The courts have ruled in his favor and
awarded him damages.

Beyond the fact that that particular cross is quite a distinctive
design, the tattoo copied it all the way down to the amethyst.
While the tattoo artist evidently had permission in this case, if
another jeweler did the same thing it would be a serious problem. 

The only thing that worries me about all this is spreading images
that are obviously my original work or copied from my original work.

I have given permission several times for my designs to be used as
tattoos and I really don’t worry if the tattoo artist or the person
wearing it really has my permission. What I worry about is if the
viral spread of the image. I should have the legal exclusive right
to make this specific design as jewelry or as monumental or alter
sculpture. I don’t want my website cluttered up with a lot of
nagging copyright statements. I don’t think that is especially a
friendly way to greet potential customers. But I do have such
statements that go beyond the basic “copyright Stephen Walker” at the
bottom of some of the pages. I don’t think anything I can do is going
to stop people from copying. Tattoo culture has a proud outlaw
tradition. They steal from each other all the time. Since this
specific image came to my notice I have found it on several other
tattoo sites. Some of them have no apparent way to reach the site
owner. None I have seen identify the tattoo artists or the person who
is wearing it.

With the image spreading the way it has it is quite plausible for a
jeweler or anyone else for that matter to claim that they copied the
design from an anonymous image and assumed it was a historical
design and safely public domain. I actually had someone call me about
having the larger bronze sculpture version for her husband’s
tombstone. She had been told by a graphic designer, who had done the
program for the husband’s funeral, that the photograph on my site was
the oldest of all Celtic Crosses, erected by Saint Patrick himself on
the Hill of Tara in the 5th century. The widow wanted to know more of
the history of the cross and symbolism and then basically called me a
liar for claiming that I had designed this when she was convinced it
was 1500 years old! I suspect that she has had the design carved on
her husband’s monument. This does great things for my ego, by the
way.

Please don’t misunderstand. This situation does not upset me. My
concerns are purely business. If it were legally possible I would
release the design to public domain for use other than what I make
for sale, jewelry, alter and monumental sculpture, I would do so. But
as Jim Binnion points out granting partial rights is a slippery
slope. I have consulted intellectual property attorneys. What I was
told is that I should always insist on protecting my exclusive rights
and have all agreements assigning those rights in writing, signed by
the other party. The problem is that the tattoo artists, as well as
many others are either ignorant of the law or incorrigible.

Thanks for your interest in my problem. It is a great thing to have
others to chew on this with.

Stephen Walker
http://www.celtarts.com


#18
since you do not bother to see your creations used, you may write
down on every picture/image you publish something like this: "if
you liked this image and intends to use it, please, mention my name
and my internet address as the person who created it". 

That would be a Creative Commons Attribution license. There’s a
whole established procedure, look into CC.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#19

It is not the idea or “style” of a work that is copyrightable. A
copyright is vested in the creator of a work when the specific work
itself is fixed in tangible form. Registration is a legal procedure
necessary to take formal legal action against infringement, but your
copyright in your work became effective at the moment your work came
into being.

Style as in Celtic or Keltic styles applies more to trade dress.
Where copyright is concerned it is not the style of the design, but
the substance of the design that defines the design as the
intellectual property of the creator.

If someone is copying a specific work without your permission, and
you wish to stop the infringing activity, have an intellectual
property attorney help you file a registration for the work and send
that douche bag infringer a cease and desist demand letter.

Good luck!

Michael Rogers
M. M. Rogers Design
Albuquerque N.M.


#20

Stephen,

I don't want my website cluttered up with a lot of nagging
copyright statements. I don't think that is especially a friendly
way to greet potential customers 

I have been to some web sites and tried to “right click” on an image
and received a pop-up notice that states, “This is a copyrighted
image and it is illegal to copy.” There is no copy menu pop-up.
Although it will not deter a determined plagiarizer, this makes it
more difficult to copy the image and prominently posts a
notification.

Good luck,
Jamie