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So what it sounds like is, if I make a casting or otherwise "exact" replica of somebody's work it's bad (which makes perfect sense and I agree with totally) but if I see a piece of work on the internet or art fair and decide to make my own it's OK? 

I don't necessarily mean legally, since we're blacksmiths, not lawyers. 

Is it kosher to do a google search for "candlesticks", get some design ideas, make a few and sell them?

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Chris, I think it's kosher because you'll always have your own personal idiosyncrasies in the piece.  Even if you have the piece in hand and try to make an exact copy, your technique will be different and you won't be able to nail down a reasonable copy of it.  With casting, you get an almost exact copy because you're using the original as the master to make all the moulds.

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What Vaughn said is correct.  Anyone who is making something handmade is IMO an artist.  We want to make things our way.  We may get an idea somewhere but we make it our own.  Tell people the truth and say you made it.  It is an original Comtois.  Don't call it a Tiffany candle holder..

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  • 2 months later...

You have copyright so he is not allowed to make exact copies.

That said fighting in court is more expensive than it is worth. How about telling him you claim copyright but allow him to make copies as long as your name or business card us included in the ad and with each sale?

 

That would you you a lot more good than fighting over this for a few dollars 

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  • 1 month later...

A piece like the fang should have a signature of sorts. That will strengthen you rights.

There are thin lines somwhere between a plagiate, a copy and an inspired piece. All artists inspire each others and have done so for thousands of years. They still have individual traits so someone who is knowledgable can usually identify the artist behindn a work of art but may be unable to identify a copy as such. That must be true of bottle openers as well.

To my mind (but I am not an American) you have the sole rights to reproduction (and it does not matter if it is a comission or not) but it might make more sense if you find a way to market the fangs without court procedures. I assume that the copycat in question is unaware that he is breaking the law - many are. I would send a registered letter including a reference to the law in question and demand a royalty and that your name be spelled out. It is not a bad sales argument for the copycat to say "Bronze cast of the original steel fang with signature of the famous artist"

In my part of the world, a professional dealer must send a royalty to the original artist even if the piece has changed ownership a number of times.

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