It's almost a year now after I wrote my first article on this blog, and it was about legal and ethical art in SL. I still have to regularly point out to people to take down art that they sell without having the right to do so. These days, I only point that out if the art is mine or from one of the artists I work with, while I could easily point it out for so many other art that is being illegally sold in SL as well. But, to do the latter, would cost me a 24/7 job. So I only take care of the copyright of my own art and the ones from the artists I work with at the moment, asking others to please respect our Intellectual Property. Most of them do. And some are even glad I pointed it out to them, as they learned something from it, specially by reading that first article I wrote on this blog.
Others think of me as the bad person who is trying to spoil their fun. But I'm not the one spoiling anyone's fun - you are, if you sell art that is not yours to sell! Hey, there are rules to every game, and this game is called: COPYRIGHT. You can choose not to play by its rules, but that means, 'you' are the fun spoiler, and hurting the artists who you steal the art from. For those who did not get that so far, but are willing to try and do better in future, I will repeat the most part of my first article again. It's also meant for those who want to contribute to legal art in SL as a customer, because you can choose to only buy legal art, it's not that very hard to do. And it's a choice you make, one that makes you feel really good once you made it!
So here it is, once again:
As a gallery owner I feel I want to make a special statement to step up for ethical art in SL. There are a lot of gallery owners in SL who not only sell their own art, but also, or only, art from others. There seem to be a lot of misunderstandings about what art you can sell in SL legally and what not. To make those who sell art from others more aware of what is legal, I want to address two topics:
1. Art found on the World Wide Web
2. Art sent by someone else
About Art found on the World Wide Web:
People often mistake the World Wide Web for being 'the public domain'. It is not. If you find a wonderful image somewhere on the internet, and it does not say who the artist is, and it also does not say that it is copyrighted, then that does NOT mean that it is not copyrighted! So by taking that image and using it, you are taking the risk of infringing on the copyright of the creator/artist. Art only is for the use of the public domain if the site where you found the artwork explicitly says so. Usually only art from artists who have died longer than 70 years ago is released into the public domain. You can find more info about this topic at Wikipedia:
Click to go to Wikipedia about art in the public domain
Click to go to Wikipedia about image use policy in the public domain
An example of artwork that is released into the public domain you find here:
Click to see how the image of the Mona Lisa - by Leonardo da Vinci - is released into the public domain
About art sent by someone else:
We often tend to trust others when they tell us that the art is theirs or they would have the right to copy it, or the creator/artist is someone they know and would be oke with the use of the image. Be sure to verify if this is all true. People often believe themselves that they have the right to copy art of others, while they have not. They found it on the net and it did not say it was copyrighted, so that means they can do with it whatever they want and they can give it to you to use for your gallery, right? Wrong! Ask them who the artist of the image is. If they don't know who the artist is, then don't use it. If they do know who the artist is, then find the website of that artist and send him/her a message asking about the use of the image. ONLY use the image if you get a positive written answer from the artist that it is oke for you to exhibit it and sell it for Second Life use. If the artist does not allow you the use - and if he/she does not reply, then you're not allowed the use - then throw the image away and don't use it!
How you can Step Up for Ethical Art in SL:
1. As an art gallery owner:
Do not sell any art in SL that you don't have the written permission for from the original artist.
You sell the art legal, either if you sell it with the written permission of the artist, or if the art is officially released into the public domain - be very sure of that and check it!
You sell the art ethical if you credit the original artist. My advice is to always credit the artist, even if the art is released into the public domain, even if the artist is dead already 300 years, it's their art, so why would you not credit them for the wonderful work they made?
If you are not sure about some art you have in your gallery and want my advice, feel free to contact me. I also give business consults if you like to set up your own gallery and want to know how.
2. As a customer:
Do not buy any art in SL that does not credit the original artist. How do you know this? Does the name or description of the artwork say who the original artist is? If not, ask the gallery owner who it is. If they say they don't know, don't buy the art. If they say they do know, check if they have the written permission of the artist to sell it, and if they have not, then don't buy the art. Because if you do, then you take the risk of buying stolen art. You don't want that on your SL club or home wall, right? Right!
With any questions, IM Zena Zemlja.
Enjoy your Ethical Art in Second Life!
Owner of Art Galleries Body, Mind & Spirit,
Galleries for Ethical Art in Second Life.