“Can a home computer print be considered an original?”

Yes, if the design did not exist before– meaning it’s not a reproduction, copy or similar. Assuming there isn’t major graphic embellishment, if someone scans and computer prints out the cover of Reader’s Digest, that’s not original. However, if your young daughter draws a unique picture of her kitty cat on a computer drawing program and prints it out for the refrigerator door, that’s as original as that Rembrandt etching in the museum.

The common pitfall in defining what is original is assigning false qualities to the term. Common phrases one will hear include: “It’s by Picasso and sold for $1 million. It’s got to be original” … “A cheesy baseball card sold in packs of gum can’t be as original as a painting” … ” An original can’t be in a kid’s fingerpaints. It’s got to be something like oils” … “I paid $1,000 for it, so I consider it an original” …

While financial value, artist’s celebrity, beauty and prevailing taste are fine and dandy qualities, they have nothing to do with originality. The originality of your daughter’s computer sketch isn’t defined by its sell price on eBay.

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