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Portrait question

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  • Portrait question

    Alot of people like to make portraits. My question is whether or not it would be considered an original design? Not so much a portrait of a dog, but a portrait of a celeb? would a portrait of...lets say Shania Twain for an example be considered an original design publishable in a magazine? I would think a celeb that died many years ago would be ok, but not sure about a celeb of today. and then of course, any portrait that is traced off a photo like your dog might not be original...or perhaps it is original although the idea behind it is not. Do celebrety pictures make it into a scrollsaw magazine? I know the neighbors dog might!
    Jeff Powell

  • #2
    The problem with celebs is that they are VERY protective of their images--and so are their surviving family or estate...we've done a few, such as the two presidential candidates in the past, but we really stay away from celebs.

    Most of the portrait patterns we publish in the magazine are original or public domain images. Technically, it is a violation of a photographer's copyright to use their photo as a pattern for a portrait. It gets grey when you take into consideration whether or not a piece is a derivative work...but in most cases, we just steer clear of celebs.

    This is all in addition to the fact that people are very fickle about celebs.



    • #3
      That's pretty much what I expected to be the case, but I was curious a magazines point of view. I was not about to try and submit anything of the sort...but it's an interesting topic when you figure someone like Marylin Monroe has been dead for so long...but then I suppose someone still has royalties on her too! But I do imagine that if you make a picture of a celebrity and even if you sell it at a craft show...the celeb probably wouldn't care about your petty few hundred dollars..especially when the actual profit is even less. If I was Tom Cruise...oh, lets not say that...Tom Hanks, then I wouldn't care if you made a portrait of me and sold it, but I wouldn't want patterns of me sold in a magazine.
      Jeff Powell


      • #4
        Some children's television programmes ask the viewers to send in pictures they've drawn, often of celebrities, sports stars and cartoon characters. Could it be argued that they're exploiting these images for commercial gain? It's a very murky area.

        There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
        (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


        • #5

          Your topic is very dear to me. I reply a lot to these type of questions, so please forgive me for another long incoherent post.

          The rule, as I know it to be, is if you took a photograph of a public person, in a public place, you own the photograph and all copyrights to that photo. The trick is what defines a public person and what is a public place. The copyright means you have the burden to enforce your copyright.

          There is little chance that an amateur photographer can take a quality photo of a public person, such that the photo is composed correctly, framed, with good lighting, and the person having good makeup applied such the photo will be useful in an 'artistic' arranged scroll saw pattern. Please examine most celebrity photos, and the photo's will most likely have been taken by professional photographers. Most such photo's are copyrighted.

          Many times, a photo is part of the public person's publicity photos, and part of the copyright for the photo belongs to the celebrity and heirs, as Bob pointed out.

          Other times the celebrity is in costume for an actor's role in a movie or stage play. Then the photo is a trademark for the owner's of that entertainment character. But let's not go there.

          But, let us instead diverge a short bit and look at this question from another angle.

          Suppose you got, or hired, someone to pose for a photograph. You do all those Photography 101 and 102 things from your Community College class like fore, middle and background. You defined the center of attention with lighting and color, then you made sure you had all those triangles and heights as you learned. Then don't forget the eyeballs and where are they in the frame? 3/4 high? 2/3 high? And last but not least you reviewed all the setup just so; the photograph now has the composition 'artistically' arranged.

          Lets just take a guess since we are amateurs at photography; start with setup of the background scenery and set, costumes, any makeup adjustment, instructions to people, getting them in place, re-adjusting the people and / or set, lighting, lighting adjustments, Yada-Yada-Yada. Click off 25 or 30 shots, and then clean up the set, and all the end-of-a-shoot stuff. The end results is one or maybe two really good shots for maybe 4 or 5 hours of work. For me, I guess it would be at least a good 6 to 8 hours to get all that done.

          And then converting the best photo into a bitmap image for creating a scroll saw portrait. Your Mileage May Vary, but just how long will the selection process take in your case? Then how long to convert to the bitmap image? Make your own guess. About how many tries to convert, crop the photo, delete unwanted background, try again. Search for unconnected little bits of wood, over and over you work on the image conversion to a scroll saw pattern. Just how long will you take.

          So, just how attached are you to the scroll saw portrait right about now? How protective are you about your ownership of that work?

          Now, that photo of Ms Twain you mentioned, converted to scroll saw pattern and it becomes published in a scroll saw magazine. Then for the cost of the magazine, someone with a CNC laser machine is off making 150 or so cuttings. Technically, they paid for the magazine, and for the "one" xerox copy. But why stop at only 150 copies if the item is selling so well. After all this 'crafter' may have up to $10,000.00 invested in their CNC machine.

          Sorry, I guess I am wandering off topic by now. I hope this has added to the discussion. So I will end my once again way too long post, as I so often do here.



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