AnimationTaco Logo AP2D Logo


Ethics, Plagerism and Artistic Integrity

This is very easy. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Do your own work.

The College Boards says:

Any work that makes use of (appropriates) other artists’ work (including photographs) and/or published images must show substantial and significant development beyond duplication. This is demonstrated through manipulation of the formal qualities, design, and/or concept of the source. The student’s individual “voice” should be clearly evident. It is unethical, constitutes plagiarism, and often violates copyright law simply to copy an image (even in another medium) that was made by someone else and represent it as one’s own.

When students submit digital images of their own artwork for the Breadth and Concentration sections of the portfolio, they may edit those images. However, the goals of image editing should be to present the clearest, most accurate representation of the student’s artwork, and to ensure that images meet the requirements of the Digital Submission Web application. When submitting their portfolios, students must indicate their acceptance of the following statement: “I hereby affi rm that all works in this portfolio were done by me and that these images accurately represent my actual work.”

The key words here are "substantial and significant". That means you MUST make enough changes to a work you are refering to or a copyright free photograph you use that changes the work into something totally new and reflects YOUR vision and talent, not the artist you are refering to.

Before your portfolio is submitted to the College Board, Mrs. Taylor must sign off that your work is truly your own. She will NOT sign off if there is any doubt that you did the work on any piece, no matter how hard you've worked on the other 23 works. Her integrity is at stake here, too, and she will NOT compromise her integrity for anyone.

Here are some questions that come up about artistic integrity:

Can I use a photo my mom took? She says it's OK.
Only if you make a substantial change. You cannot take a photo anyone else has taken, even if it's your mom, and simply clean it up and present it as your own work. There is a difference between a photo retoucher and an artist and the AP Portfolio does not rate photo retouchers.

Can I sample a part of a copyright free photo I found on the web? I need a stop sign in the corner of my artwork.
Yes, you can sample a small part of a copyright free photo and use it. But why don't you just take a picture of a stop sign yourself? It will be of better quality with no artifacts and you'll be able to control the camera angle and lighting to suit youself. Don't be lazy!

Can I copy a famous painting? It's too old to be in copyright.
Only if you make a substantial change. Copying master artworks is a traditional way to train young artists technique, but copying is not creating a new idea and using your own artistic voice and that's what AP wants to see. The art has to be immediately recognizable as something new. Look at the pictures of the Mona Lisa on the right and see how the artists made substantial changes to Leonardo Da Vinci's work and made it their own, yet each is still recognizable as the Mona Lisa. Satire is protected under copyright law.

What will happen if one of my artworks is found out to be a copy?
Your entire portfolio will be ungraded and declared irregular. You will not be able to resubmit a new portfolio. Mrs. Taylor will be VERY, very disappointed in you.


The original by Da Vinci

A modern commercial take-off.


Copyright Law

The purpose of a copyright is to protect the financial interest of the person who created a written work, image, music, dance or anything tangible that is created.

Some points you need to know as an artist about copyrights.

  • EVERYTHING on the web or printed is under copyright unless they EXPLICITLY say it's in the Public Domain and you can use it. Just because you can't find or don't see a copyright symbol means nothing. You MUST assume it's under copyright.
  • Stealing someone's work, which is what you are doing when you violate someone's copyright, is breaking the law and you can be sued, pay a fine and court costs and even, in some states, go to jail.
  • Fair Use is a provision of the copyright law that says that images, words, etc that are protected by copyright can be used for news reporting, criticism, teaching, research, scholarship and commentary without violating a person's legal copyright. The artworks I have taken off the web and used in this website are used under the Fair Use doctrine and it's legal because this is a non-commercial teaching site.
  • However, just because you're not making money doesn't mean you're off the hook with copyrights. The amount of money you make doesn't matter under the law. There is no "starving artist" or "I'm just a kid" provision in copyright law.
  • In the US, works will leave copyright and go in to the Public Domain 70 years after the death of the creator. If the creator is unknown, the work goes in to the Public Domain 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter. Copyrights prior to 1923 have expired.
  • Anything created by US government employees is in the Public Domain. This means that photos taken by military photographers, NASA, the US Parks and Wildlife Commission, etc are all in the public domain.

    You can find out more about copyrights for artists here.


    An original twist, by Boter

    Grafitti art, by Basquiat

    A cartoon, in the style of Lichenstein

    ...and an early photographic mash-up, by Duchamp

    Mona is often hidden in art, like this poster by Malovich

    ... and then it can get silly...

             Alice Taylor, Instructor .:. school email.:. 254-336-0800 .:. © 2010. ver2