How to Deal with Copyright, Plagiarism, and Original Ideas in Art Education

Many of us think that only written works are plagiarized. But the fact is, artworks of any kind can be subject to plagiarism. If you are a writer or artist, you must know a thing or two about the act of plagiarism. In this post, we will teach you a few important things about copyright, plagiarism and original ideas.

Understanding art plagiarism is even more important in the digital age, and the reason is clear. We are flooded with videos and images every day, and we often do not know who the creators of those images and videos are. Besides teaching you a few things about originality, this post will also teach you how to be original.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash


Copyright laws have been around since the invention of the printing press. Over time, the laws have undergone many changes. But the principal goal of the law remains the same, and that is to protect the rights of the original creator of a work of art.

This law prohibits the illegal copying of someone’s work. When a work is used without the permission of the original artist, copyright infringement occurs. But there is an exception to this law, and that is fair use.

Fair Use

Your understanding of copyright law is incomplete if you do not know what fair use is. According to fair use, copyrighted material can be used for educational purposes. Students do not violate copyright law when they copy something off the internet. 

The main goal of fair use is to give artists the freedom to build meaning because repurposing is an integral part of creating works of art. The meaning of art has always been a contentious issue, and Pop Art and Dada movements asked very important questions about them. 

In this age of digital images, fair use is a very useful law. There are distinct fair use guidelines that all artists should follow.



While some people think that the concept of plagiarism is hazy, it is not. It basically means using someone’s work without giving credit. But talking about plagiarism can be disturbing in some situations because it is a moral issue. If you plagiarize, you will feel guilty. 

While the modern education system discourages plagiarism, the system indirectly compels students to indulge in this malpractice. Being unable to complete academic papers within deadlines, they hire professional writers to get the papers written. If you are a serious student, you will always try to find time to write your paper. 

There are some tools that are used to check for plagiarism. Not only professional writers but also students use these tools. EduBirdie’s free plagiarism checker is one of the many plagiarism checkers available online, but this plagiarism checker has gained huge popularity in recent years. It is used and trusted by many students and professional writers. 

Plagiarism in artwork has long been a contentious issue. If you are an artist, copyrighting your art is one of the best things you can do. But it is not an issue at all if you look at it from the right perspective. For example, when a student tries to draw the image of Spiderman, the student is doing it just for educational purposes.

The student does not claim that it is his original work; he is just trying to copy a masterpiece. This is different from a situation where someone claims a copied work to be his own.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Replication is also important 

Copying works of art is not always a bad thing. Copying someone’s art style is not always a violation of copyright law. One of the roles a teacher has to play is that of a mentor. In order to teach students the art of creating art, a teacher has to rely on great works of art to some extent.

It is just about making students familiar with recognized works of art. Students can explore original works of art only when they get a chance to examine existing works of art. This is an important part of education. 

Copyright is a concept that is more important for working artists than for students. We have already mentioned that plagiarism is a moral issue, and students should be made aware of this moral issue.

How to avoid plagiarism in art

There are many effective ways to avoid plagiarism. We are going to discuss a few ways.

It is good to be inspired by another person’s work. Feel free to get ideas from a popular work of art, but do not copy it blindly. Another great thing is to mix different ideas. If you take a few sources and combine them, you can come up with your own piece.


The truth is, you can make your own masterpiece only if you are influenced by other masterpieces. When needed, do not hesitate to cite your sources. You can safely avoid art plagiarism if you just name and acknowledge original artists. 

Students and professional writers know a thing or two about art copyright and plagiarism, but many of them know about fair use. Fair use does not encourage plagiarism. It, in fact, encourages the evaluation of original works. As a student or artist, you should always put a lot of emphasis on originality.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad