still life artist painting well-known ceramic items

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Rose85
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still life artist painting well-known ceramic items

Post by Rose85 » Sat May 16, 2015 6:50 pm

Hi there

I was wondering if anyone can help clear this up for me.
I am a professional still life artist living in England that paints naive still life compositions using acrylic and watercolour.
I have recently begun painting well known ceramic ware within my compositions including brands such as Emma Bridgewater & Antique swiss ware etc. Do I need permission from these ceramic artists to include them within my paintings? My compositions usually include flowers, patterns, daily objects & natural forms.

Thank you so much for your help. Have been looking online but cannot find any information regarding this so just wanted to check.

Amy

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sun May 17, 2015 6:23 am

Hi Amy,

As it sounds as though you are deliberately including these specific pieces of ceramic ware, this would tend to rule out an exception in law which says that the incidental inclusion of a copyright work in another work does not infringe. That might apply, say, to a lifestyle photograph in Hello magazine, in which an item on a table might be recognisable as a piece by Emma Bridgewater, but it did not represent the main focus of the image. In your case, because you are painting the image, you make conscious choices about what to include or not, so that would not be considered 'incidental'.

The decoration of ceramics is subject to copyright as long as it isn't so commonplace as to have little originality. So for instance a piece of willow pattern ware probably wouldn't be a problem, but any distinctive style of design would, potentially, be infringed by including it as you describe, so I think you would be wise to seek permission. As your use in no way detracts from the saleability of the original product - indeed it might be said to enhance their status as 'icons' - I doubt if permission would be withheld.

If you are interested, here's a write-up about a recent case involving copyright infringement of a design on ceramic ware.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

Rose85
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Post by Rose85 » Sun May 17, 2015 10:13 am

Thanks Andy

This has been really helpful. I know many other contemporary artists that have included well-known ceramic pieces within their compositions so I will also contact them and ask for their advise.
I will also ask permission from Emma Bridgewater as she is such an established and distinguishable brand.

Thanks so much for your help


Amy

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