Have You Ever Violated Copyrights?
by Bill Hudson
I recently used a postcard photograph for a painting. The image is a breaking wave near Point Reyes National Seashore. The photograph is titled "Big Waves and Chimney Rock from Limantour Beach." The photographer and artist is Kathleen P. Goodwin (ref KathleenGoodwin. net).
I've taken hundreds of pictures of waves and typically use only my own photographs as reference for all my paintings. But I fell in love with Kathleen's wave because it had great value contrasts with a lot of foam and mist in both bright sun and deep shadow. It was a perfect fit for using watercolor in conjunction with casein paints to represent the scene with drama and realism. And that was exactly what I was looking for. I was asked to do a demonstration of watercolor and casein paints on April 8th for the North County Society of Fine Arts in Rancho Bernardo. I thought Kathleen's wave was the image to bring home the advantages of casein paints.
The painting turned out better than expected. But even though I changed the background and added the Portland Head lighthouse from Maine, the wave is without question a copy of Kathleen's photograph. And that posed some limitations. I could not profit from using Kathleen's image unless I was granted her permission to do so. I could keep the painting, but I could not sell the painting or any copies.
I contacted Kathleen, told her what I had done, sent a copy of my painting, and requested permission to use her image for profit. I told her I would always acknowledge her as the photographer and offered fair compensation for the use of her image. Ms. Goodwin had every right to say "no", but she was nice enough to grant her permission.
I believe this will work out for both of us. In addition to the NCSFA demonstration, I intend to exhibit the painting at upcoming shows in Beverly Hills, La Jolla, and Malibu. I always label each painting with a background story where I will be grateful to acknowledge Kathleen P. Goodwin and her website.
I am sorry for the inconvenience to Kathleen and realize this is not a process I want to repeat. But, if you use another person's image for profit, you are ethically and legally obligated to get their permission.