Dear fellow artists, I would like to share a quick story with you about how Thomas Churchwell, who calls himself a painter and educator, infringed my copyrights with the unauthorized use of my art work (photographs).
The purpose of this post is to expose what seems to be an issue with some of the digital painters simply ignorant or uneducated about the international copyright laws.
I always allowed the painters to use my photographs as a reference for their inspiration in producing their paintings, whenever they asked.
And when in the Spring of 2014 someone named Thomas Churchwell asked me for the same, I gave my permission to use my art work as inspiration and reference to produce paintings for his personal/portfolio use only. Which means that my permission was extended only for personal not commercial use and with requirement that the original art work to be referenced and my name as the author to be mentioned every time any derivative work is published.
Later I learned that Thomas Churchwell infringed on my copyrights by using my art work in his video lessons for sale, i.e. he proceeded with commercial use of my art work without my permission.
I have informed him about the obvious copyright infringement by him and offered him to pay an usual fee for the commercial use of my art work in his video lessons. He refused and accused me of harassing him and attempting to extort money from him. He said he never used my art work in his video lessons, which is a lie. I have bought one of his video lessons where he used one of my photographs.
Obviously if he doesn't want to pay for the legal rights to commercially use my copyrighted materials and my art work I am asking him to stop such use and I am asking him to stop selling the videos with my art work being used.
On a side note, if my commercial usage license is too expensive for Thomas Churchwell he can purchase a stock photo in one of the stock photo agencies for a couple of dollars and base his video lessons on that reference photo.
I guess the problem with using a stock photo for Thomas would be that the unsophisticated manipulations with digital brushes he teaches on top of an average photo would produce unappealing results, while doing the same on a compelling photo or on an art work would not distort it enough to completely diminish its original artistic value.
And it seems that is what Tomas is after with using my art work.
I am not going to judge Thomas' artistic talent, but I have to say that producing an art work from an average stock photo is not the same as manipulating of the existing art work and assigning yourself as the sole author of the derivative art work.
Especially without acquiring the proper usage license from the author of the original photograph or the art work used as a reference.
Also not knowing the international copyright laws is not a pass to violate them,
just like not knowing that the stealing is illegal does not make it OK to steal.
Everybody should know that stealing is bad.
P.S. Below are some examples of Thomas' image manipulations and other details of this story.
A few screenshots from Thomas' video lessons for sale.
Here is my photograph he used in his video lesson.
A Facebook page with advertising his video lessons where my art works were used.
He call it "digital painting":
(original photo is here)
"Thomas know how"