Gourd Art Enthusiasts

Dedicated to Gourd Crafters, Artists and Gourd Art Fans

Email that was sent on 3/6/2104  to all GAE members.  Offending photos may be removed at any time by GAE moderators - but please police yourselves and remove any questionable photos using copyrighted patterns or images that you may have posted on your page.

Your comments and further discussion on this topic are welcomed. 


Some of you may wonder why we don't allow gourd photos on the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website that include copyrighted artwork such as Disney, college mascots, etc. 

Today, our website was served with a legal notice of infringement pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  In this case, the offending photo used a celtic pattern that was copied from an internet site and was used without permission.  Some of you feel like we worry too much about copying - but the problem is real, and if we don't monitor our own habits and usage, it may result in our site facing legal penalties or being shut down completely.

It is NOT ok to copy other people's gourd designs, use copyrighted patterns without permission, or to just assume it is ok to use something on the internet.  The offending photo has been removed, and a note has been sent privately to the person that posted it.  It would be a good idea for all of us to examine both the photos that we have posted, and to eliminate the copying trend that is rampant in the gourd world. 

Please be respectful of the ownership of designs created by others.  If you want to use a pattern or a design that someone has created, then you MUST write that person and ask for permission.  Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is there for you to use freely.  Read the disclaimers on websites and in books before you assume you can use the material any way you want.  Get in the habit of assuming you may NOT use this material for anything other than basic inspiration.  You may not use someone else's gourd art design just because you like it. That person worked very hard to create their original design, and when you use it without permission, it is theft of their intellectual property. 

It is a shame that our site had to be served with a legal notice to make some of us aware that copying is NOT OK.  Likewise, the images and designs on our website are the property of the person that posted them. Just because you see it on our site, doesn't mean it is there for your to copy their work.  Please practice good ethics and don't use other people's property without permission. 

I will open up a new discussion on the forum and I invite you to add your comments about this topic. I am hoping all of our members will read this email completely and will take it to heart when uploading photos or creating future gourd art.  If you have questionable work on your own page, please remove it immediately.

I will include below the main part of the notice I received from Ning, our web host, with names removed.

Bonnie Gibson - Site Administrator


*Material was uploaded or embedded onto gourdartenthusiasts.ning.com, hosted on the Ning platform, and was the subject of a takedown notice we received from 'redacted' pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). 'Redacted' has asserted ownership of this material and that ‘redacted' uploaded or embedded that material onto gourdartenthusiasts.ning.com without permission to do so. We have disabled access to this material at this time as described in our Terms of Service

Additionally, as stated in our Terms of Service, repeated incidents of copyright infringement will result in the termination of an account and may also result in disabling a social network if a Network Creator does not prohibit such conduct on his or her social network. We also reserve the right to terminate members, including Network Creators, suspected of infringing copyrights upon the first incident without further notice, at our sole discretion. We do not want to be put in the position of having to take any of these actions, so to help prevent us from having to take these steps, please delete from gourdartenthusiasts.ning.com, any additional material ‘redacted’ uploaded or embedded to gourdartenthusiasts.ning.com which you believe ‘redacted'  does not own the necessary rights within forty eight (48) hours from the receipt of this notice, and please take precautions to prevent your members from uploading or embedding additional material that they do not have permission to upload or embed.

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I use Bing and search for free coloring pages none of the pics it brings up say copyright or anything so I think they are ok to use most of the pictures have no writing on them just the picture so how do you go from there ? I cannot draw to save my life so am kind stuck if even these cannot be used .Some of the pages are listed as printable coloring pages so do you think these would be ok as I do not see any way to contact anyone regarding these pages.

You're right, there is no copyright notice or way to contact the designers. Still, it would be wise to give credit to your design source. At least that way you are documenting that you acknowledge the creator as someone other than yourself. Better safe than sorry. Maybe someone else has a better suggestion. Again, Dover has loads of books-and plenty on sale-that are copyright free.

I do hope that people will pay attention to this event.  Bonnie has worked very hard to make this site available to us and neither she nor the site should be jepordized by something like this.  When saving photos of other people's gourds for technique or inspiration, I always take the time to put their name under the photo in my file.  It is a way of reminding myself not to take the inspiration to the point of copying.

The same thing is true with almost 90% of the fabric sold.  It all says for personal use only.  The problem with this is that most fabric is sold to crafters and if crafters stop buying this fabric, a lot of stores and designers will go out of business.  I've had people ask me to put sport team logos on items and, like I've told them, no product is worth the thousands of dollars in fines and lawyer fees for some dumb school logo.  I've seen these guys go after elderly ladies with a few towels made with fabric bought at a store.  You would have thought they were selling tons of these instead of just a couple.  I have made it a rule not to buy Disney, Warner Brothers, tractors and especially anything with sports as a protest against their company and school greed.  When I've seen an elderly lady reduced to tears because she dare sell a towel with Nebraska fabric and the attorneys served her, something is wrong with society. 

if you find a piece of clipart on the internet can you incorporate it into your design?  Does every piece used need to be acknowledged? I have quite a bit of digital clipart I have purchased but I always use it IN my design but not AS A STAND ALONE PIECE. I also like to use wildlife & often search the internet for photos of different animals, Is it illegal to use them if you change the background or only use a portion of it?  It's all very confusing & the last thing I want to do is unintentionally steal from another artist.

Good question.  I also keep a "morgue" of animals, flowers and trees for reference.  I have always been led to believe that this is okay, but I would like to hear from those more current on the laws.

The laws are so crazy that even lawyers have trouble sorting it out.  Anything that is owned by a corporation, such as Disney, all sports teams, etc, will not allow you to use that item except by licensing which runs into big money.  All trademarks, logos and the like cannot be used.  So much of the material on the internet is not usable.  Be careful on downloading, even for reference.  I've heard of too many getting served just because they downloaded a photo, even though it was for reference only.  Be careful of so-called free sites.  Just because they say it is free, doesn't mean they had permission to put it on the web.  The copyright trolls will go after you as well as the free site.  Another piece of advice.  Don't put your work on the web, facebook or the craft sites.  This is how these guys are finding you.  Your artwork may be your own but when they are putting copyrights on designs hundreds of years old, nothing is safe since everything is repeated. 

A photograph is an original by the person who took it and falls under the copyright laws.  You can use the photo as reference.  I find several photos of, say, an elk.  I, then, change the posture of the animal so that it is standing differently from the photo.  I use the photos for seeing how the muscles and bone structure are as well as the fur.  I try to take my own photos so that it's all mine.  I am lucky that my son lives next to an Elk farm.  The owner lets me go up by the pens where the bull elks are.  And, we have buffaloes close to us.  Go to a zoo and get photos, if you can. 

Before I retired as Tumi Logistics Manager, my office was responsible for registering our copyrights and patents with U.S. Customs so that knock-offs of our luggage could be refused entrance, seized, and destroyed at the USA borders.  My office was also responsible as the primary contact any time TUMI infringed on someone elses copyright.  

Even our lawyers could not figure out what most of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1996-98- 2003 though 2006 means.  It was written as part of an international treaty to protect US generated entertainment materials from being copied without compensation to the USA owners.

The section (1201(c) that affects you and I "does not include a fair use exemption from criminality nor a scienter requirement, so criminal liability could attached even unintended circumvention for legitimate purposes."  (Scienter is a legal term that refers to intent or knowledge of wrongdoing. This means that an offending party has knowledge of the "wrongness" of an act or event prior to committing it.) 

The old "Fair Use Exemption" no longer protects educational organizations.  Sorry for being a little long winded - I had to write too many briefs for management.

My best advise - When in doubt, do not use the copyright material unless or until you have contacted the source of the material.  Most people/organizations will answer you - others will not respond.  If you do not have the permission do not post that material on any of our Gourd Organization or support Websites.  If you do have permission - note the permission on your website and keep a copy of the permission.  

If you use Bing to search for ideas or pictures it has a drop down box headed license that allows you to chose for it to show images that are free to share and use commercially.

What is the process to copyright your work?  Is there a separate copyright for each gourd?

Original art is copyrighted automatically from the moment it is completed and signed.


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