I also spoke with James Valentine on ABC Radio Sydney (link to interview is below).
I have to stress that I really don't like doing interviews, but I felt that as I'm saying we need to spread the word, I should put my money where my mouth is.
It is a big problem which isn't going to go away, all we can do is try to educate people (as well as learning how to protect our work as best we can). So I am copying the post here.
"This is not a happy post. I am in a very distressed and angry state right now. I cannot tell you how many times this Acacia pycnantha, which I painted in 2005, has been used without my permission. I have come across these accidentally, but now I am starting to deliberately search for them because it is happening so much I need to stop the culprits.
Artists own the copyright to every image we create - unless we choose to sign it over, which is very rare. Just because you find this image on the internet does not mean you have any right to copy it for any purpose whatsoever. I do licence my work, so feel free to contact me for a licensing agreement, in which case a fee is paid for use of the image. Any other use is outright stealing. You are breaching copyright, and breaking the law.
Many of the people who have used my images have done so not realising they were breaching copyright. Some have innocently used them in environmental brochures, or on a website where they are discussing our national floral emblem. This is still breaching copyright. Others have copied the image for their own gain, selling it as their own on their websites or Etsy stores. This is even worse. Some are extremely apologetic and immediately choose to rectify the situation. Others are happy to compromise their artistic integrity by not admitting wrong or rectifying the situation.
I’m sorry this is so long and angry but I have had enough. We artists need to spread the word that it is not OK to use other people’s art. Always obtain permission. Always.
I’m also trying to decide whether to name and shame the few who are not doing the right thing after being discovered. It feels very negative but I wonder will they learn otherwise?
I guess this is a downside of the internet, but I suppose the pros outweigh the cons in terms of getting exposure. It’s just so disappointing and exhausting!
I also know I’m not the only one going through this, would love to hear your thoughts."