Date Posted: 4th April 2014

A big thank you to all those people who got in touch after reading yesterday’s newsletter, .
You alerted me to the fact that someone had lifted a Kelly image from a leaflet and was selling it on Ebay as prints.  I immediately challenged him pointing out the breach of copyright and he has done the right thing and withdrawn the prints from sale (£20 each unframed).
Last year Kelly’s Blue Door and Sun was similarly for sale on Ebay @ £40 along with a whole raft of ‘prints’ from many Royal Academicians. The seller was from Norwich and much more resistant to removing them. As the holder of the Kelly copyright, after a frantic exchange of e mails,  I told him I would be taking legal action to which he replied he had done nothing wrong. (How often have we heard that one recently). His last e mail to me said ‘I don’t like you. Don’t e mail me again.’  I didn’t. I warned the Academicians involved as well as making a formal complaint to EBay. All the images abruptly disappeared. He had got them all from adverts in the same edition of the Royal Academy magazine. The RA demands very high resolution images, so it was possible to lift them and make a decent print from them.
An artist’s work is protected by copyright for their lifetime plus 70 years after their death and it is an offence to breach that copyrigh . When you buy an original painting, you buy the physical object to have and enjoy. In most circumstances you own only the artwork, not the copyright to it. That remains with the artist or their estate unless they specifically sign over the copyright to the buyer. You don't automatically acquire the right to reproduce a painting as cards, prints, posters, on t-shirts, etc, along with the painting. It's the same as when you buy a book, film, music, vase, carpet, table, etc: you're acquiring the right to own and enjoy the item but not the right to reproduce it.
Only the holder of the copyright can complain about a breach. So, to all those sharp-eyed people out there, keep on looking and report it to me please (giving me a link if you can)
Many thanks.