After discovering the image of her painting being used by an American company on bedspreads, a Halifax artist is upset as she wasn’t consulted or compensated for her work. However, some experts say there isn’t much she can do about it.

Shelagh Duffett says she was surprised when her friends congratulated her on having her painting used on a bedspread being sold online – which prompted her to investigate.

“Sure enough, here was this company selling all kinds of bedding and rugs – but it had my work,” says Duffett. “It's pretty blatant. In fact, you can even see my signature in the bottom right-hand corner of the coverlet."

CTV News reached out to, but received no response, other than an auto-reply email. Duffett says she received the same kind of response when she tried to contact the company.

”Actually, my very first emotion is anger,” says Duffett. “I think, 'how can they do this?' – but it happens all the time.”

And she’s right; last year, prolific cartoonist Michael de Adder, was surprised when an image he created appeared on T-shirts being sold by a company in California.

”They're selling my image, which is copyrighted by me,” says de Adder.

Copyright expert Mark Belliveau says ownership is never a question when an artist creates something original, but only artists with the necessary financial resources are able to convince the courts to protect it.

“For example, a musician like Prince could sue lots of people for taking his music or his photographs,” says Belliveau. “Unfortunately, the cost of suing someone who's stolen your artwork is exorbitant.”

Meanwhile, Duffett doesn’t expect to receive any compensation for the use of her art on bedding materials, but hopes will either remove the product from its website, or contact her to pay a licensing fee.

“I love having my work out there — I absolutely love it,” says Duffett.  “But when it's being used for profit — if someone's going to be making money off it, I would like to have a little piece of that pie as well.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko