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Public Installation Art

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randomoy

New member
What is the name of your state? CA
Thank you in advance.

I have a small online t shirt store and one of my designs is that of a political figure I am passionate about. I'm not gonna say who as it's irrelevant but let's just say his name is Sernie Banters. I recently traveled to a location where there are art installations outdoors. My plan was to go to each installation, find a bush or a tree or anywhere I can hang the Sernie Banters tee, take a photo and put it on my social media and online store. My project is called "Sernie Banters does The Entire Art Installation Event". Now mind you, I spent a lot of time, not just with the concept and driving to loc, but also with the editing of photos to make a whole new well-composed art and in this case, a photograph. Basically, the whole intention was for new photographs and materials I can post on my social media for the tshirt and online store promotion. I've posted a few on my Instagram account and the artist is always tagged. So far, none of the artists complained until now. He says to me "Hey, man" and I'm not even a man, that I shouldn't be using it for promotional use, that i'm "falsely implying his endorsement of the political candidate" and that he owns the copyright etc. Ok, so now, I understand how this can be frustrating as an artist myself, but I did think this would be a totally different scenario. Do I really have no right in any of these? If I'm wrong, will there be a "Cease and Desist" letter first or will I be fined right away if I continue? No other artists have complained yet but does that mean I can still be sued by them or the Event organization?

I made a very quick illustration on how the photos appear. Please see link (link removed), Imagine the tshirt hanging on a bush or a tree beside the installation.

Thanks again!
 
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quincy

Senior Member
What is the name of your state? CA
Thank you in advance.

I have a small online t shirt store and one of my designs is that of a political figure I am passionate about. I'm not gonna say who as it's irrelevant but let's just say his name is Sernie Banters. I recently traveled to a location where there are art installations outdoors. My plan was to go to each installation, find a bush or a tree or anywhere I can hang the Sernie Banters tee, take a photo and put it on my social media and online store. The project is called "Sernie Banters does The Entire Art Installation Event. Now mind you, I spent a lot of time, not just with the concept and driving to loc, but also with the editing of photos to make a whole new well-composed art and in this case, a photograph. Basically, the whole intention was for new photographs and materials I can post on my social media for the tshirt and online store promotion. I've posted a few on my Instagram account and the artist is always tagged. So far, none of the artists complained until now. He says to me "Hey, man" and I'm not even a man, that I shouldn't be using it for promotional use, that i'm "falsely implying his endorsement of the political candidate" and that he owns the copyright etc. Ok, so now, I understand how this can be frustrating as an artist myself, but I did think this would be a totally different scenario. Do I really have no right in any of these? If I'm wrong, will there be a "Cease and Desist" letter first or will I be fined right away if I continue? No other artists have complained yet but does that mean I can still be sued by them or the Event organization?

I made a very quick illustration on how the photos appear ... Imagine the tshirt hanging on a bush or a tree beside the installation.

Thanks again!
Using copyrighted photos as the basis for your artwork, without authorization from the copyright holder, is generally copyright infringement. It can depend on whether the use of the copyrighted work is judged a derivative work or a transformative work.

If the copyrighted works were federally registered prior to your infringement, the copyright holders are eligible to collect statutory damages ranging from $750 to $30,000 per infringed work. If not federally registered prior to infringement, the copyright holders can collect after registering their works your profits and/or the artists' losses. Additionally, your tee-shirts can be seized and destroyed.

Many copyright holders will be content to file a DMCA takedown notice to have their works removed from the online locations. Some copyright holders will send cease and desist letters which might include a demand for compensation. Some copyright holders will skip these steps and file a lawsuit.

Your post was reported to have the link to your tee-shirts removed.
 
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randomoy

New member
Thanks so much for responding! It's not a copyrighted photo though, it's an outdoor art installation for public viewing as per my post. In my understanding and my knowledge is sure to be limited but I'm spitting my thoughts anyway, since the environment and location of the artwork is within public domain, the public, when they take photos of whatever artwork happens to be in front or behind them, can do whatever they wish with that photo. I'm not interested in his artwork. In fact, his art just happens to be there. The entire event with my tshirt as the main subject is my interest.
 
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justalayman

Senior Member
Outdoor art work is protected by copyright as well. It doesn’t make it fair game just because it’s in public. Public domain obviously doesn’t mean what you think it does.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Thanks so much for responding! It's not a copyrighted photo though, it's an outdoor art installation for public viewing as per my post. In my understanding and my knowledge is sure to be limited but I'm spitting my thoughts anyway, since the environment and location of the artwork is within public domain, the public, when they take photos of whatever artwork happens to be in front or behind them, can do whatever they wish with that photo. I'm not interested in his artwork. In fact, his art just happens to be there. The entire event with my tshirt as the main subject is my interest.
Public domain materials are those works where the copyrights have expired (those works published before 1924), although there are a few additional, less common ways works can be in the public domain.

But exhibiting a work for the public to view DOES NOT mean the work is in the public domain. In fact, it generally doesn't mean that. All copyrights in a creative and original work remain with the creator of the work unless the copyright holder expressly signs away these rights.

A copyright owner holds the EXCLUSIVE right to reproduce (copy) the work, make derivatives of the work, display (or perform) the work, and distribute the work.

To use a work created by another, you (generally) need permission from the copyright holder, with permission (generally) granted in the form of a license.
 

quincy

Senior Member
I guess that was a dumb move on my part then. Call it a day. Thank you, thank you so much, guys! :)
Copyright laws are misunderstood by many so you are by no means alone. :)

You could reach out to the artists/photographers who created the original works to see if you can obtain permission to use their works for your tee shirts. Otherwise, you will want to create your own original art for your tee shirts.

Good luck.

We both appreciate the thanks, randomoy, so thank you.
 
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