Ethics in Wood Carving

I’ve considered the issue of carving ethics for some time, actually since the beginning of my carving career.  One question which comes up from time to time is: What are the ethics involved in regards to copying another carvers patterns or carving, photograph, etc?

First, let me begin by saying  “.. there is no new thing under the sun.. Ecclesiastes 1:9” . So if one ascribes to that baseline, everyone copies.

Most carving magazines and how-to books have patterns which the expectaion is that the user will copy and use tha pattern for personal use. Many other books limit the number of patterns one is authorized to make as up to ten patterns. The purpose of these limitations is to prevent an artist’s design from being mass produced or resold, the personal use clause. Genrally, one should have no issue placing coppied carvings in local /regional carving shows and offering them for sale to the local public.

Major shows such as the Ward,  Eastern Carolina Wildlife, Southeastern Wildlife Expo the artists work is expected to be his/her orginal work.

Shows such as our Artistry in Wood, places such as Charlotte, Orangeburg, Piedmont, Johnson City do not have such issues unless the artist claims the work to be their own design and it is discovered to be otherwise. Well, that would be unethical.

There is an interesting legal case ongoing right now. Artist Shepard Fairey created the now famous poster of the now President Barack Obama, based on a photo taken by an Associated Press, photographer. He admits to using the photograph, but says he transformed it into something entirely different than it originally.

Others photographs & paintings are considered intellectual property of the photographer/painter and may not be copied without the permission of the owner. That’s the law. You can use them for inspiration, just dont copy if you intend to offer for sale. Until next time…. Jack

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One thought on “Ethics in Wood Carving

  1. Chuck Spilman

    It is said duplication of another person’s work is a sincere form of flattery. I have seen photos of carvings that I have attempted to duplicate, usually not well. I would not attempt to pass a copy off as my original work. Like most carvers I have used the no cost patterns published in carving magazines.

    As to the BO poster, I assume the AP photographer’s work is automatically copyrighted. Any use of the image should be paid for unless licensed by the copyright owner.

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