Are you buying stolen art?

Life Desk :
Watch out! When you buy that kitsch art coffee mug or those bright, graphic print cushion covers online, you could be helping graphic art thieves rip artists off
Stop stealing art. It hurts. It’s a blow to the stomach (in every sense) when someone blatantly profits from something I created. It’s not right, it makes me angry,” fumed artist Shruthi Venkataraman on her blog, after finding out that her artwork was ripped off and used on various products sold online. “I was shocked when a friend shared a link to an e-retail site selling coffee mugs with my artwork on them.Further online search showed that my work was on everything -phone covers, mugs…” says Shruthi, who initiated legal action.
Shruthi’s case comes close on the heels of the $750,000 lawsuit which made headlines recently, when Brooklyn muralist Maya Hayuk sued a global coffee chain for allegedly stealing her art.
While the lawsuit filed by Shruthi might not run into thousands of dollars, it however, promises to have far reaching consequences in the Indian context. As on Monday, the e-retailer has promised to withdraw all the products featuring Shruthi’s works from their catalogue. But the battle to protect the rights of artists in India has just begun, reckons, Arjun Charanjiva, the CEO of the e-retail site that holds copyrights to Shruthi’s works.
“By standing up for Shruthi, we are taking a stand against violation of copyright in graphic art. It is critical to build awareness that violating copyright law is unacceptable and there will be serious legal consequences,” says Arjun, who is now trying to get other artists on board to share their experiences.
Artists rarely go beyond writing to the violator to take down the work or give them credit. But Shruthi’s case might just set a new precedent, believes IP lawyer Kiran Desai, who is now fighting her case. “Most people usually think twice before taking legal action because of the high cost of litigation.Shruthi’s case might set a precedent and the thieves will hopefully, think twice before they steal.”
Copyright infringement has become rampant these days. All that a graphic art thief has to do is take a screen shot, edit image and print it on any product and it’s ready for sale.”A copyrighted art work means the artist holds the rights to use it exclusively. Unauthorised persons cannot download it and use it for commercial purposes.Ill-informed people assume that anything online is actually in public domain. It is not,” elaborates Desai.
Remember, when you buy stolen art, you are not only infringing on the artist’s copyright, but also denying them of their livelihood.
· Copyrights applies to all art work whether it is online or offline. To be sure, you can look for the copyright mark on the images. When you land on an image page, the artist generally states hisher copyright policy: some of them allow use on providing credit, some of them state that it is a free for all use, some insist on being notified before their work is use. Respect the artist’s terms.
· When you buy stolen art, not only are you paying a thief for replicating art that was painstakingly created, but also encouraging -plagarism
· Digital art is increasingly being streamlined across the globe.Several e-retailers are buying art from young and budding artists to help promote and encourage creativity, so when you buy, ensure you are buying from a direct vendor instead of a thirdparty retailer or congregator of products.
· Copyrights are not infinite. In India, after 60 years of an artist’s death, the artworks will enter into public domain. this is why you might see a lot of replicas of Raja Ravi Varma paintings, but you still can not touch an MF Husain work
· Artists create art to make a living. They work hard at it and it is no different from a conventional 9 to 5 job that people do for a salary.