Copyright is a legal protection for writers, artists, or anyone who creates a tangible work. The copyright is fixed the moment the work is created, whether or not paperwork is
filed with a government agency. The work is not required to state copyright or ©.
What does this mean for us as digital artists?
- First, anything we create to the point that it can be
saved on a hard-drive or printed (the "tangible" part) is copyrighted to us—and that anything others create is copyrighted to them.
- Second, that work cannot be copied or reproduced
without our expressed permission. That
applies even if we publish it on the Web. A graphic on a webpage is just as much the intellectual property of the
artist as if it was hanging in a major museum—or on a wall in her own
- Third, the copyright belongs to the artist even if the
artwork itself is sold. Ownership of a
piece of artwork does NOT convey the copyright to the owner—it stays with the
In Beginner's Workshop, the rule is very simple: you may not use copyrighted material. That's all! Beginner's Workshop has resources for copyright-free photos that you are welcome to use.
As stated in the Workshop guidelines, projects submitted
using copyrighted images will not be accepted. This includes works by famous artists, modern-day artists, scanned
calendars, stamps/tubes such as Precious Moments, Ruth Morehead Angels,
House-mouse characters, Anime, or Disney. Even if you have permission to use the
image, it will not be accepted in the Workshop.
Let me make this a little more explicit by telling you a true story. A few years back there was a woman named Mary. Mary did a lot of creative work in the form of digital paintings. Her displayed works were awesome. So awesome that she was asked to teach her craft to others in an on-line course. But Mary wasn't a great artist and had no idea how to teach others. She had seen tutorials and knew how they looked. So she searched the Internet for them and copied them and passed them off as her own. But, one day something looked a little too familiar to a student who contacted an artist who legitimately taught art. It was one of his own tutorials. Mary was threatened with a lawsuit if she didn't desist. The owner of the site sponsoring Mary was included in the lawsuit. Needless to say, Mary is no longer teaching art on-line. This story ends with Mary apologizing publicly to all who she taught, and the removal of her tutorials from the class. She was also banned from most forums where she had frequented. She could have gone to court and ended up paying thousands of dollars to the Artist who's tutorials she had borrowed. The Class' owner could also have been taken to court.
Mary had chosen to borrow someone else's work and was profiting by it. I realize that if you are reading this you aren't likely going to do that. But please be assured that using commercially printed media, scanned to your computer can also get you in very hot water and if you post it on our board, we can be held liable along with you.
Over the years since PaintShop Pro included the Picture Tube Tool many have stolen bits and pieces of works of art by "tubing" them. What that means is they have meticulously cut a piece out of a work of art and then exported it as a Picture Tube. They will then claim ownership of it since they created the tube. This is still copyright infringement. They have not contacted the Artist and obtained permission to do this, likely because they know it won't be given. Using these tubes, many of which are shared regularly on the Internet, is not allowed in the Workshop.
The best rule to follow is, if you aren't sure ask us. We will gladly let you know if the image is allowed or not. In addition you can check out this site for more information about how copyrights work and what is and isn't acceptable.