Nov 29, 2010

We don't like to talk about it . . .

. . . but every now and then it's good to have a discussion about copyright. I know I learn a lot every time it comes up somewhere.

Recently I had a customer question the legality of some sheets I was selling in my Etsy shop. In fact, I was accused of theft. The sheets in question used parts of masterpiece paintings. The customer brought up a good point and one that I supported until several months ago. She questioned the legality of selling images taken from photographs of masterpiece paintings. I, too, once thought that if you scan or photograph something in the public domain, you own the rights to the scan or photograph. Art museums thought and some still think the same thing and not surprisingly so - they want to profit from the artworks that they exhibit. Therein lies the crux of the situation . . . is it fair for artworks in the public domain be available only to the museums that house them?

There have been several court cases in which that thinking has been challenged. The most well known case, and a kind of standard for the United States copyright discussion, was the Bridgeman Art Library vs. Corel Corp. case. It seems that Corel was using and or selling images from artwork kept at the Bridgeman Art Library and Bridgeman sued Corel for copyright infringement. The case was dismissed, on two occasions, because the court decided there is no real "spark of creativity" or originality in simply photographing a two dimensional artwork already in the public domain. In other words, the Mona Lisa is in the public domain. Taking a picture of it, no matter what skill was required to do so, does not create an entirely new artwork - it is a reproduction of a work already existing in the public domain and would not differ much from any other photograph taken of the Mona Lisa. The "spark of creativity" was Da Vinci's back when he created the Mona Lisa and that is no longer protected by copyright.

So, like many, I used to think unless you went to the Louvre and took a picture of the Mona Lisa yourself, you could not use it in your artwork whether it is for sale or not. I have come to the opinion, after a great deal of reading over the last few months, that may not be the case. But, the rules do vary by country. In the United States, it is widely considered acceptable and legal to use a photograph of an accurate reproduction of any original two dimensional artwork that is itself in the public domain.

To be honest, I don't mind being questioned about images I use. I am very meticulous about such things myself and would be happy to reassure anyone that was double checking for their own peace of mind. I do, however, find myself a little rattled by the way in which I was approached about the issue. So, I have decided to pull the collage sheets for now to cleanse the palette, so to speak. Those of you that know me know that I take copyright issues very very seriously and would never want to in any way tarnish my reputation for being less than astute about the legality of the images I use and sell.

The images I created for sale in the Zetti MasterPIECES and MasterPIECES sheets were a combination of scans from old art history books and images available from Wikimedia. Every single one of the Wikimedia images stated the image was in the public domain in their permission statements. While I had never used images from Wikimedia until I created those two sheets, I was satisfied in my research that they were not under any copyright protection and were free to use in the public domain. I combined those images in layers with scans from old books and recolored them in layers and cropped out parts that I wanted to use. Though I strongly feel I was not in any way violating U.S. copyright laws, I decided that if there were any question at all it is better to be safe and over cautious. My main concern was that even though the images would be legal to use in the U.S. and most other countries, there are some countries with laws that differ and I am uncertain how the law would apply to customers using the images in those countries.

If you own the sheets in question, it is certainly up to you whether you'd like to continue using them. If you decide not to, I am more than happy to refund your money for those sheets and ask that you delete them from your files. I will contact each customer that purchased the sheets and direct them to this post. I will continue to use them in my work and you are welcome to do the same if you are satisfied, as I am, that they are not in violation of any copyright infringement.

On a lighter note . . . there are a few new sheets in my Etsy - all taken from papers and tools that I own an completely legal! hee hee

Merry Borders

Merry Backgrounds

Christmas Trims

Gothic Color



And here's a free image for you to use in your own work. Please do not resell as is. It is restored and recolored from one of my antique postcards. I like her warm hat as I sit here shivering in Southern California!


Nov 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving & a surprise!

What was I thinking? I thought I would have so much time to do a cute little post and make all kinds of personal blog visits and wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving personally. But it didn't work out that way. I am so behind and tomorrow is the big day!

So here I am with a bland and anticlimactic post to try and let you know somehow just how thankful I am for each and every one of you. I am! I am thankful for you ALL and your talents and spirits and journeys and joys and strengths and quirks and what make each of you, YOU!

(image from the public domain, 1894 Thanksgiving issue of Harper'sBazaar)

I do have a surprise for you, though, in this simple little post . . . My Etsy will be closed from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon so that I can take care of family and company. But Saturday evening through Monday, there will be some big sales in my Etsy! Several $1 collage sheets and some print sales, too, beginning Saturday evening through Monday night - November 27-29, 2010. Just my little Thanksgiving Customer and Friend Appreciation sale!


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Nov 18, 2010

New Stuff! And an old prize drawing . . .

Hi everybody! I'm trying on a new blog banner for size. It's probably going to change. With things I'm going to see everyday, it's harder to overlook what I don't like and I need to ponder it a bit. It's kind of a draft at the moment.

I wanted to put up some collage sheets I'm just about to list in Etsy. It's been a few days since I made any and I have several more in the works but won't be ready for a week or two. I've linked the ones below to the shop and they'll be listed sometime today. I may not get much more done before Thanskgiving - so much to do!

Bright Side (to counter my Dark Side backgrounds)

Ethereal Rings

Zetti MasterPIECES (2 page set)

Wings (have to think of a better name for this one)

Master PIECES (these and the zetti pieces all come from masterpieces, mostly from the Renaissance or earlier, altered and cleaned up a bit)

Old Prize Drawing
Remember way back when I was asking for suggestions for a file sharing service? I clean forgot to do the prize drawing! I remembered because I was trying yet again to find a new and better service yesterday and was referring to all of the suggestions that were offered. Well, I did a highly technical drawing of names - the old "pulled a paper out of the hat" routine and here's the winner . . .

Mary Green of Green Paper blog! Congratulations! You get 2 free collage sheets of your choice. Just email or Etsy convo me with the sheets you'd like. If you haven't visited Mary's blog - hold on to your hat. She has the most beautiful vintage journal pages you will ever find.

I still haven't found anything better than 4Shared for a download service. Most services only allow 10 GB of storage and I already use almost 20 now. And Media Fire looks great but it's really hard to password protect the files if you like to change up the passwords every now and then. So we're stuck with 4Shared awhile longer.

Some Free Images
This first one I ran across the other day and immediately thought of Rip Van Winkle and taking a long nap, which is always good to do after eating a lot of turkey. So this is my twisted Thanksgiving image for you . . . (it's in the public domain so you are free to use however you like)

And since a lot of us are thinking Christmas, thought I'd share these images that sweet
Caitlin O'Conner sent me a long time ago. They are vintage postcards and you may use them in your own work but please don't sell them in collage sheets or as images for artwork.


Nov 15, 2010

I'm aware
Before I get any more emails from concerned customers and friends . . . I'm aware of the frame in the other designers' kit that just came out. It's not my frame, perhaps amazingly similar to my idea, but some ideas are hard to resist replicating as we all know and do. All is good.

But here is something else folks have been asking me about . . .

Buyer Beware
There are designers and shops that sell kits seemingly for altered art and collage work but you can't use their images in work for sale. Sometimes this is because they are reselling images from stock photography/image places (with little alteration) and don't have the right to sell the images for any commercial use - they are not in the public domain. Sometimes it's simply because they don't want you to profit from their work for various reasons. Sometimes you may think you're not going to sell something you make, you think you're just going to trade it, but you never know what you may want to do down the road with that piece you just made. You can use my collage images in artwork for sale, you just can't resell my images in collage sheets or digi kits or the like. None of my images come from stock sites and are either altered from the public domain or from my own vintage ephemera and photograph collection. Don't get stuck! Be sure to check the Terms of Use when purchasing images from other designers and stick to their terms! It's the right thing to do. (There's a list of some of my favorite designers that allow commercial use on the "Resources" tab at the top of my blog.)

On a lighter note . . .
I will proudly share,
the images below were inspired by the work of my friend Mary Haldeman and with her permission. I decided I can share these digital creations since I'm going to do different hand cut pieces for a project we're working on together.


copyright by Marsha Jorgensen 11/15/2010. All rights reserved.
Digital collage. Image credits: Everything is from my own images, most of which are at


copyright by Marsha Jorgensen 11/13/2010. All rights reserved.
Digital collage. Image credits: bird is from; hands are from; wings are from; frame is from; crown and some layers were created from papers given to me by Mary Haldeman; everything else is from my own images, most of which are at


Nov 10, 2010

Inspired . . .

This is not polished and I'm not going to share the whole story in this post but wanted to show you some of the work I've been doing for an upcoming project. There are more pieces coming in this series but I may not post them all here.

In January of 2009, still barely learning about collage and how to blog about it, I wrote a post about one of the biggest inspirations I had for turning my life upside down to work on art full time. This was a very important crossroads in my life. I wrote about Mary Haldeman
in the post There's Something About Mary. I had seen her work in the book Artist Trading Card Workshop by Bernie Berlin nearly 18 months before I wrote the post and had searched for more of her work on the internet. She is a semi-private lady and I could not find much out about her. Still, I kept returning to her work over and over. The color and subtlety of her images, among of long list of other things, appealed so deeply to me. When I first wrote about her I was new to collage and hampered by processes and materials. I couldn't make what my mind saw. Though I still struggle with that to some degree, after two years of collecting images and practicing processes I find myself closer to being able to illustrate what her work inspires in my mind's eye.

As fate would have it, after somewhat of a sabbatical, Mary, on her son's urging, googled herself (like we all do from time to time!) and discovered my blog post about her. She reached out and once again my journey was impacted by the generosity of a fellow artist and the serendipity of life. We began emailing each other and learning about each others' journeys and life stories. What an incredible experience to be able to talk with and get to know someone that inspired you so much and in some ways changed your life.

I want to save the rest of the story for an upcoming project. Mary continues to inspire me as a human and an artist and I am so grateful for fate's chance for us to travel part of our journeys together. Parts of the story have confirmed for me yet again that there is a plan for each of our lives and when we are open to it and embrace it, amazing things can happen. When I share the rest of the story I am sure you will be as inspired by Mary as I have been.

For now, you might want to visit her Picture Trail here. The pieces below use papers that Mary shared with me as well. Her papers, a signature part of her work, are luscious sumptuous works of color and texture that truly made all the difference in my exploration of working in her style. Mary is a cut and paste gal (like I am at heart) so it is especially exciting for me to try and work digitally to create my "forgeries" of her work - exploring digital work is important in my work at this point, however temporary it may or may not be. It reflects in these pieces my attempt to borrow Mary's style but make it my own.


copyright by Marsha Jorgensen 11/10/10. All rights reserved.
Digital scene. Image credits: inspired by the work of Mary Haldeman and using some of her papers in the crown, body, and background mixed with my own textures, overlays, and images; black and white border from Crowabout Studio B.


copyright by Marsha Jorgensen 11/4/10. All rights reserved.
Digital scene. Image credits: inspired by the work of Mary Haldeman and using some of her papers in the body and background mixed with my own textures, overlays, and images; keyhole from; hand and black and white borders from Crowabout Studio B.

In other news - I've been a nurse the last week or so. One "child" is sick and one "child" had his wisdom teeth out. It has been a week of appointments, soup making, sheet changing, med bringing, drug store running, forehead feeling FUN around here. I say "child" but they are 17 and 18 and you'd think by now they could fend for themselves a bit. I swear they are worse now than they were when they were little. Boy child did have a particularly rough wisdom tooth extraction - all four impacted and horizontal and needing bone graphs. Today he woke up and his face is turning green from the bruising. They'll survive if I do!

Working on new collage sheets - something a little different should be ready in the next few days.