Why was my artwork removed if I photographed or drew it myself?

When you take a photo, make an illustration, or create some other work, you own the copyright to any original expressive aspects of that particular photo, drawing, painting, or other creation. But consider that there are various types of Intellectual Property (including copyright, trademark, and publicity rights), and you can have multiple, overlapping IP elements in any one particular work of art. Someone else may own intellectual property rights to some or all of the content within your work. Based on their ownership rights, they might be able to legally stop you from selling your work on Redbubble. For example, if you take a photo of a painting, you will probably own copyright in the photograph, but the painter (or somebody else) will own copyright in the painting (and you may have infringed copyright in the painting by taking a photo of it). 

For example:

  • You sketch an amazing motorcycle-riding wombat, wearing a kickass bandana with a company logo. Although you may own the copyright to your drawing, that company might own the trademark rights to its logo and your work may infringe;   
  • You make a drawing of a character from a video game and upload it to Redbubble. Although you drew the character yourself, your rendition may look similar enough to the original character from the video game that the owner of rights in that character may complain that your work infringes; or
  • You make a tasteful macaroni homage to your favorite celebrity and decide to sell it on Redbubble. That celebrity might claim that you are infringing their publicity rights by using his or her name and/or likeness.

 In all of these examples, you may have certain copyright rights in your particular work, but someone else may own copyright, trademark, publicity rights, or other rights in the content of your work and may therefore be able to prevent you from selling your work on Redbubble.  

The bottom line: if you’re not sure why something was removed that you believe you created yourself, think about whether you may have used any elements of someone else’s creation in your work. Think of logos, characters, quotes/phrases, drawings or photographs of actual people, or something else that may infringe on another's rights.

Obligatory Yet Very Important Legal Disclaimer:

Don’t be fooled by any complicated jargon (and how snazzy we look in pinstripe). We are not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. We recommend contacting an attorney if you need an actual legal consultation.

Rather, this is general information aimed at giving you the legal lay of the land. While we can’t defend you in court, we know that art and IP ownership can be murky territory; the least we can do is arm you with the right kind of knowledge to get you started.