"We are not here to do what has already been done."
Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
It's all over the internet and in books and newspapers and professional journals. I'm sure you have read something about the subject in the last year. The artist holds copyright on his/her artwork (even after it's sold, unless other arrangements have been made and paid for). When someone copies another artist's work and signs it and tries to sell it or show it as if it is their own original work, IT'S WRONG.
Most of us don't need to be told this. We understand that it is cheating. Immoral. Illegal.
I have read good articles by artists whose work has been copied and used by someone else without permission. It's easy to understand the outrage of the person who is the victim of theft. You will want to read this article, an excellent example of how an artist discovered the theft and what she did about it. "This is a Post About Plagiarism" by Sarah Moon on her blog "Clear Eyes, Full Shelves."
Here's another, by Lori McNee, about an artist who discovered a copycat who stole her work off of her Facebook page. "How I Stopped a 'Copycat Artist' on Facebook."
My work has not been stolen. But, I still feel passionately about the issue. I believe that artists and art groups have an obligation to hold one another accountable and to hold one another to the highest standards of professional practice and ethics. From my standpoint, when artists do nothing about a copyist in their group, they are saying, in effect, that it is okay with them. When they hang in art shows with that copyist, they are endorsing that person as a respected peer.
My grandmother used to say, "You are known by the company you keep."
What would you do if you discovered an art friend copying artwork and passing it off as his/her own? Have you had any experience with this issue in a personal way?
Robert Henri got it right. Let's do it right.