We received a call the other day concerning a gentleman who was looking to produce fine art acrylic prints but needed photos to reproduce. It was an odd demand since most customers call with images ready to produce fine art Acrylic prints.
Larry had seen images on acrylic and was interested to produce a line to try to sell at a pop up store in New York city. He was adamant about not wanting to spend a nickel on photos to reproduce. We told him to take his own photos or search the internet for free photos.
Larry, told me it was a potential order of 50 large Acrylics and asked me if i can look into it. Like always, i agreed to spend some time trying to secure him some photos so he could produce fine art prints.
After researching for hours online a became somewhat of an expert on image reproduction restrictions and copyright. I will explain the various options I researched creating fine art acrylic prints below and copy right law.
Pay per Demand
Probably the safest route to take. Become a member and join service. Paid for Images can be used for personal use but not used commercially. List is long, here a are a few. Dreamstime.com , bigstockphoto.com, photoshelter.com, shutterstock
Creative commons licenses
The one mostly used is attribution. The user of the material must give an appropriate credit and provide a link to the source. In the case of my customer- If he wished to sell images online he would need to link every image to the actual artist. A big job and a very confusing eCommerce platform.
Sometimes attribution in not necessary ,but you will not be able to sell the image commercially. Images could be used for teaching and other non commercial usages.
Many times you can copy ,redistribute for commercial purposes and attribution is not necessary. However ,the image cannot be sold in a stand alone manner. Meaning, if you want to sell the image you would need to change the image. More then just size- You would need to add filters ,colours etc.. A viable option for my potential customer ,but a very grey area. What constitutes changing an image ?? Will the photographer give me grief ? Who is right in this scenario? Ambiguity within Ambiguity.
No copy right although sometimes hard to find is the best way to go. In this scenario the person has given up all rights to an image and images can be sold commercially without attribution. However there can be copyright infringement if there is a brand or famous person in the photo. An example of this would be a photo of a street scene with a Coke sign in the photo. Would Coke actually come after you ? Probably not, but still a chance.
In our view,there is not one perfect option for producing fine art acrylic prints from on line images. Even No copy right has grey areas and the laws of copyright seem to always change. There are many sites that offer images for commercial use, but read the fine print. Each has their own set of rules and all but a few are ambiguous to say the least.
As for my potential customer, he is starting to create a library of images for me to produce.
If you need any advice concerning copyright issues feel free to get in touch with us.
* images on the front and main page are Free of copyright- But will keith ,Bob or Joan contact me if i try to sell it on a t shirt ??