Tattoos, Fair Use, and Copyright. Black Voodoo Tattoo

The question of copyright and the Internet is a vexed one, with many people assuming that if it is on the net then it’s free to use. As a visual artist I am aware of the issues, if not always as careful of my images as I should be. This blog is a reminder of copyright issues.

Image Copyright Hall of Shame

This is the only copy of my Three Legged Bird that asked permission before the tattoo my Three Legged Bird . This is the only person to asked permission before the tattoo

This post is a tough one to write. I debated writing a blog post on tattoo artists who are using my artwork. On one hand I feel kind of honored to have people wanting to have my images tattooed onto their bodies. On the other hand I wonder if these people know that the artwork was conceived by me and not the tattoo artist. I know that some clients bring my artwork in to the tattoo shops but I have to wonder how many times the tattoo artists’ use my images afterwards.

My Three Legged Birds is the most popular with tattoo artists. When I started working on my preliminary drawings for my Three Legged Birds in 2010, I spent a lot time looking online for artist renditions of the iconic and mythic…

View original post 1,680 more words

By anne54

Botanic artist

28 replies on “Tattoos, Fair Use, and Copyright. Black Voodoo Tattoo”

Having had a chunk of my text lifted by another blogger for the purpose of mocking me and belittling my ideas online, I’m fully in sympathy with your views and the views of the other artist. She thought she was safe under ‘fair use’ and became aggressive when reproached by others. I thought it better not to address the issue in person; she’s popular, and friends with others whose work I admire. But there’s too much outright theft of images, ideas, words and designs, and too much assumption that the owner will find it too hard or too much bother to do anything about it. Thank you for reposting this, it’s something we should all be more aware of.

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She has very strong opinions and campaigns for ‘professional’ quilters to be properly paid. I have no argument at all with her position, but I wish she hadn’t chosen my random and non-threatening post to make an ‘example’ of me for not thinking exactly as she does! I still can’t stand the woman…

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Pre internet it wasn’t always easy to keep control of ideas, design etc but since it seems impossible. I have friends whose business designs and products were used as inspiration for a range of [cheaper] imported goods, effectively killing their trade. Always good to be aware, and not transgress even if others do.

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Piracy is a huge problem for every creative endeavour, and as EllaDee says, stopping it seems impossible. The only thing I can think of is to insert a watermark onto every image you post on the internet. People who actually buy your work would get the version without the watermark. Of course, the real pirates would quickly find a way around watermarks too, but at least they’d have to work at it. 😦

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I think that what you are describing is part of a much larger problem of living in a culture of people who have a high tolerance for dishonesty. If you live in the U.S. then you are basically living in a winner take all gaming culture that treats all strategies as valid; this includes cheating, making up facts, hiding behind religion, scapegoating others and theft. There is no respect for anyone in a culture that doesn’t expect its leaders to be honest about the political issues that directly affect the quality of their lives. If we want to make the world safe for people who make their own content we need to make the world safe for people who challenge bullies and liars. What we call whistle blowers. I thought it was really telling that katechiconi did not challenge someone who stole her work because the thief is aggressive and has a following.

That’s how it works in gaming cultures. The guy with the most points defines the game for the rest of us.


Robert, that is a really interesting way of putting the issue into the wider context. Although I should have, I have never thought about copyright issues being part of a world view that encourages competition and a desire to get ahead at someone else’s expense. Quite right too, to want a world that is safe for people who challenge bullies and liars.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am sorry it has taken me time to respond to you. I am travelling on the road, and Internet access can be tricky.

Liked by 1 person

Please don’t apologize.

We can’t live on our blogs..:)

Your post is interesting and timely. I’m glad that you appreciated my take on it. We can’t have an honest culture based on mutual respect and collaboration if we don’t cultivate an honest culture based on mutual respect and collaboration.

Cynicism is the poison that kills civil behavior.


I would like to make a comment on the issue of challenging bullies at a personal, everyday level. I agree that the ‘guy with the most points defines the game for the rest of us’. This guy can do so because of his/her ‘following’. From my experience that ‘following’ is the crux of the problem, not the bully. The ‘following’ support the bully as a protection racket…if they are chummy with the bully then there is no chance the bully will be loathsome to the ‘following’. Under this circumstance it is very difficult for a victim, in ordinary everyday life, to make an effective protest. For the sake of the victim’s health it is sometimes best to get out and move on.
I had to make this choice with regard to my family (all except my own children). A bully rules and I had to emotionally estrange myself from my family and literally walk away. Everyone else follows the bully. In the past I have also found it necessary to walk away from a bully-run workplace. The two lessons I have learnt in life is you cannot change people’s minds, and to ask myself if a fight is really worth it.
Time has shown that I did the right thing by walking away from these situations. Ironically this has helped me to stand on my own two feet in life, and to feel sorry for the highly impressionable ‘followers’. I am also now very much aware of sticking up for any victims of bullying that I encounter in everyday life. It’s very difficult to explain in a short post, but there is a strength involved in being able to walk away.
Thankyou Robert. Your post is very thought-provoking and interesting.
Regards, Sandi

Liked by 1 person

Thank you Sandi. I really appreciate your honesty. Those events must have been very traumatic for you, especially to be estranged from your family. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to make that decision and then have to carry it through.
I guess your message is that we all have to deal with these issues in our own way. What is right for some is completely wrong for others.


I agree with you.

I don’t associate with people who reveal themselves as bullies. I also agree that they are made worse by enablers who buy themselves peace at the expense of the people that the bully attacks.

It’s an ugly behavior made even uglier by our cultures passive acceptance of it.


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