centerlogobigAAD logo


“Copyrights exist in order to encourage more artists, writers, and musicians to create new work by making sure they can earn money off of their labor….”

I read the quote and then reread it again. I know somewhere inside the sentence there is a logic that is understandable, but it escapes me. I’m an artist, an educator, and a writer, so I thought that the simple ideas of copyrights were legible and comprehensible on a subtle but civilized level.

Ownership Protection

On the surface the sentence was straightforward and not to far off on its simplistic approach to the concept of ownership protection. But something about it was missing. I wrote it down, set it aside with the intent to review it again later, but I simply forgot to write about it.

Social, Policy, Economic, and Cultural

Sitting on my desktop, the file marked Copyrights gnawed at me, not in a worried way but in a troubled and concerned way. The issue of copyrights is not about making sure they can earn money off of their labor, but about the social, policy, economic, and cultural issues that arise when copyright law is broken, infringed, violated and disregarded.


Having been a victim of copyright infringement I know a thing or two about it on a local, regional level, but the big game changers are played out on the national and the international stages. Yet it still plagued me as a sentence gone astray.

Protect Me From Myself

Maybe if I rewrite the sentence in a slightly different way it will make sense. Copyright exists so artists’ earn money. Taking it personally I drew a blank. I told myself think larger, scale it up; ponder the logic and the determination. Even then I drew an unqualified blank. Protect me from myself, I’m not too rational these days, medications and surgery, but I still think.


The way most copyrights work is first you have to discover that someone has taken, appropriated, or borrowed your work, then [depending on the country] you have a set time, usually five to seven years [from the date you discover the infraction] to file charges against the perpetrator.

Also consider the need for between five and ten thousand dollars for an experienced attorney/solicitor and roughly 80 to 100 hours of free time to meet with the lawyer, gather facts and evidence, and then proceed to trial should a hearing judge/advocate determine there is a case. Should you want to protect and enforce your copyright make certain that you have a spare ten grand on hand and the name of a capable attorney/solicitor? Oh, but what if your work, sells in the $1500 to $2500 range.

What is your recourse? Raise your prices and hope for the best.

About the Author

Lawrence Klepper

Lawrence Klepper

As an artist, Gallery Management Instructor, Gallery Director, Independent Curator, and Special Exhibitions Coordinator for City art museums, college art galleries, and commercial galleries in Califor...