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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Is it legal to sell adult colorings

Coloring by Pris David
Adult coloring has turned into a rage. Publishers of such books state that they’ve never seen anything like it. Some coloring books are on their sixth or even tenth reprinting. Suppliers of pens, pencils and chalks are equally happy that adults all over the world have taken such an interest in this hobby.

While some people color just for fun, others are so talented that their work is fit to be framed and put on a wall. Which led to a question on Facebook yesterday ... is it legal to sell adult colorings?
I did a bit of research on this and found the following:

"You may use the designs and illustrations for graphics and crafts applications, free and without special permission provided that you include no more than four in the same publication or project."

My personal opinion is ... when in doubt, contact the publisher of the coloring book and ask.
It’s not like the coloring artist is going to make thousands of dollars from selling some pictures.

One designer, let’s call her Annie, stated “Bottom line, respect the artists. They work very hard to create the coloring books we use. That is their bread and butter. Would you want someone taking from your income you support your family with? Not to mention, yes, the artist can sue you.”

Annie has a point, but her reasoning may not be the best one. Suppose someone sees a framed coloring and wants one too. She might rush to the nearest bookstore and buy Annie’s book so she can color too. Or she might ask the original coloring artist to color one for her. One thing might lead to another and the coloring artist might buy more and more of Annie’s books.

Another artist, let’s call her Brenda, wrote ... I email free weekly illustrations. You can color and sell them if you want.” If Brenda ever decides to bundle her drawings in a book, guess who will make the most sales? Annie who doesn’t want to share, or Brenda who markets her work with free drawings?

Another person, let’s call her Olive, commented ... “Just trying to understand. If I paid the artist for the book, then it’s mine to alter and do what I want. I've already paid the artist.”

I agree with this. If I buy a plate, I can serve dinner on it or smash it to pieces. It’s mine to do with as I please.

Then last night I got to thinking ...

If I buy a design for a sweater in the knitting shop, and knit that sweater, can I legally sell it?

If I bake a cake following the recipe someone posted online, can I sell that cake?

If I buy chocolate and melt it down to make Easter eggs, can I sell those eggs?

What about Bible phrases people sell on online. I found this particular tile on Zazzle. Did the seller obtain the rights to use this phrase from the author?
What about this pillow quoting John 14:27. Did John give permission to use his creativity for commercial purposes?
Let’s take this even further.

Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest painters, yet he never sold a painting in his life. These days though, his paintings are so expensive that only the super rich or museums can afford his works.

If we follow the provenance of Van Gogh “Starry Night” we discovered that the master GAVE this painting to his brother Theo. From there the painting traveled to several owners, increasing in value over time. Today Starry Night is worth over $100 million.

Incredible, isn’t it. Is it ethical for anyone to make millions on an artist who died in poverty?
My message to designers ... if you make $10,000 from your coloring books, why begrudge someone $10 for selling a coloring. 

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