"A BEADERS CODE OF ETHICS
- It is unethical to copy an artist's work without that artist's permission.
- It is unethical to copy any work that has appeared in a magazine, book or website and represent it in any venue as an original design.
- It is unethical to teach a beading project that has appeared in a magazine, book or website without that artist's and publisher's permission.
- It is unethical to teach a beading project learned in another teacher's class."
Since I have named my source and quoted directly, I sincerely hope that my using these words here is not illegal in any way. But I have to wonder, why is this information not front and center in the magazine? Why is it not on the page that tells me it is illegal to copy any part of the magazine in print so fine I need my magnifiers to read it? Maybe it should be obvious to all concerned?
I started beading in August of 2007. Almost immediately I stumbled upon a call for entry for a local bead art juried exhibit called "Beads of Whimsy." I decided, why not give that a try? Two entries could be submitted, so I decided I would create two pieces. In retrospect, that was both a bold and a foolish move for a spanking new beader.
The first piece began in a Right Angle Weave Workshop class. The class was two sessions, and we could make a necklace or a bracelet, creating the RAW base in the first class and then embellishing with bicones in the second. I got home after the first session, which was my first introduction to RAW, ripped out what I had done in class and decided I would use the technique and basic necklace shape taught to create a piece based on one I had seen in a book, and admired. I think most beaders begin because they love something they have seen and want to make something similar.
So there are my code violations. First, I tried to make something like an award winning necklace I admired, and second, my work began in a class. Although not specifically spelled out in the "Code," original work probably only rarely begins in a class. But in my defense, my finished piece is not remotely recognizable as a project from the class, which included bicones (or stone chips) and no fringe. I can't show you that though, because I'd have to copy the class material, which is protected by copyright. You would have to take my word on it. Or since a class was involved, I am condemned. Your judgement is called for.
|My "DaVinci Code Book Club Necklace"|
I think publishing a photo of the piece that was my inspiration here would be illegal, as I would have to scan it, and that act alone would constitute copyright infringement, but I was able to find a photo of it on the net (please click on this link) with a thank you to our friends at Fire Mountain Gems, who sponsor the Bead and Button Magazine Bead Dreams competition. This work won a second place award for finished jewelry in 2004. Copying this piece would have been in violation of the "Code of Ethics" for sure.
But did I know that? Now of course, at this point in my beading career, I had not read the fine print in the magazines and books I was looking at. And I also had not read copyright law. I had been costume designer for competitive ballroom dancers for twenty years, and in the fashion world, design trends come and go very quickly in the form of knock-offs. A professional dancer appears on the circuit with a great gown, and everyone wants to look just like her! I had personally designed a gown that was copied so frequently in the course of a few months that all 6 finalists for the national championships of the American Smooth style one year were wearing a knock-off of my design. The next year, it was all over Europe as well. And I have copied as much as I have been copied. But for me, it is business as usual. I am not saying it's right or wrong. It just is.
Test this for yourself. Watch a big awards show, the Ocars, the Tonys, Golden Globes; you pick. Observe how the ladies are dressed, especially the ones who look really fantastic. Then visit Macy's or Bloomies or even JC Penney in a couple weeks, and I guarantee knockoffs of the best looks with be on the racks for you to purchase for your prom.
So the idea that I might have done anything wrong here, especially given that my outcome is both structurally and visually different than the work that inspired it, did not even occur to me. But if you look closely, the basic design elements are the same.
In retrospect, I believe this piece is my own. I don't think it is a result the teacher of the class would ever have expected, and I do not think it is a copy of my initial source of inspiration, even a "derivative" one, for those of you who know copyright law. But as I said earlier, this all involves judgement. I show you both here, and invite you to vote in the poll. Is it a copy? Is it an original work? Should I be crediting the artist who made the original necklace with the design or inspiration? Should I have asked for her permission to sell the necklace on Etsy in my shop? It is for sale. I didn't ask for permission. Am I ethical? What do YOU think?
In my next post, look for the other "Beads of Whimsy" entry, which I think DID cross the line. Check back in a few weeks and vote again.