The following is a very brief summary on some very complicated subjects affecting artists. This is not legal advice. Do your own research. Each apply to artists in different ways. These two subjects really puzzle me.
The following are some words to search on: Copyright, Plagiarism, Pastiche, Fair Use, Derivative works, Inspiration and Plagiarism, Forgery, Trademark, and Appropriation. Good luck.
Some brief definitions.
Copyright; is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished….. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created.
U.S. Copyright Office –http://www.copyright.gov/
All the FAQ’s from the Copyright.gov site. http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/
The whole Copyright Law http://www.copyright.gov/title17/circ92.pdf
Plagiarism; The passing off as one’s own work the work or ideas of another.
Where should we draw the line between inspiration and plagiarism? Copy the inspiration, not the outcome.” Quote Cameron Moll, Designer
Appropriation; has been defined as “the taking over, into a work of art, of a real object or even an existing work of art.” https://en.wikipedia.org/Appropriation_(art). Use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation
Pastiche; Mixture: a piece of creative work, e.g. in literature, drama, or art, that is a mixture of things borrowed from other works. Refers to mimicking someone’s particular style. However you can not own a style.
Fair Use; http://copyright.nova.edu/fair-use/ From NSU Nova Southeastern University
Derivative work; has to do with taking someones work and changing, transformation, or modifying it. “The Mona Lisa With a Mustache” is an example of Derivative work.
Model Releases: If I am in a city park watching a concert, can I take a picture of some person and paint them? This is not a public place, or is it?
Well if you can’t recognize the person you painted then you don’t need a release
This is interesting: Artists: Can You Be Sued for Including a Real Person in Your Painting? Huffington Post. Danial Grant
Here is a great site, Stanford University Libraries