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Author Topic: Copyright issues  (Read 1790 times)

Offline hurricane

Copyright issues
«: August 24, 2011, 01:45:44 AM»
Someone asked something similar awhile ago which got me thinking. If I am trying to draw or paint something realistic, it never comes out very good if I do it from memory. What I like to do is find a magazine or calendar picture (mostly animals) that I really like and then paint a copy. I don't trace. I just paint what I see in the picture. I always assumed this was fine, but now I am wondering, am I violating any copyright laws if I try to sell these paintings?


Offline Ellie

Re: Copyright issues
«Reply #1: August 24, 2011, 02:21:34 AM»
Technically it's a form of plagiarism.

In art class, we'd get F's for doing that for that very reason.

Offline hurricane

Re: Copyright issues
«Reply #2: September 15, 2011, 02:36:42 AM»
I am not copying another artist's style. I am not copying another painting. I am not copying a photo with multiple elements, like a landscape or a still life. I am just copying one animal. Just because my animal is in the same pose as in that particular photo, who is to say that I didn't also observe a similar animal in a similar pose? My only goal is to get realism.
I have painted pictures of my cat and later I have seen published photos that look very similar of other cats. How would I be able to prove that my painting wasn't a copy of those photos? After all, there are thousands of cats that have similar features.
If I want to paint wild animals I don't have any other sources unless I go on safari and take my own photos. Do you have any suggestions?

Offline Surplus

Re: Copyright issues
«Reply #3: September 15, 2011, 02:53:20 AM»
I think the best way to learn is to take a sketchbook and sketch the poses of animals to help further your studies of animal anatomy so when you actually do paint the animal you can allow your mind to do most of the work and proudly say that it wasn't referenced.

I understand that there are only so many poses animals can make but imagination can help pop that creature out more and will help guide you to find your own style.

Offline Vollkreis

Re: Copyright issues
«Reply #4: September 15, 2011, 03:50:13 AM»
It's quite confusing these days. Many people try to shove that sort of thing as contemporary art, so its 'more ok' I noticed a lot of places are trying to teach that its fine, or taking a photo of something and using it is fine.

Personally, I (jagerin) paint from photos, but I -never- sell it and I always say theyre referenced if they are. I think it's good study to paint from a photo and even better to do life drawing. But to sell it is a whole other game. I guess the best way to be safe, is to say its referenced.

Offline Romantiik

Re: Copyright issues
«Reply #5: November 30, 2011, 06:14:01 AM»
I'm an art student, and we're told to do this constantly. I've HAD to do a picture, basically copying another artists picture, which they drew looking at a picture... (you get the picture, and I couldn't not do it as that is basically what you do on an art course, copy other artists style-work-poses-etc for research... I hate it but i don't get the grade if I don't do it.). As long as it's referenced, not traced, it's fine. FOR A STUDY. Not to sell or claim as your own work.
Better to use stock photo's though, or your own (but as it has been said, want to reference a lion it's very difficult to get your own photo's).

Personally I reference things like backgrounds mainly... but I never draw exactly what i see. So If I see a tree I like, I draw half of it and pretty much make up the other parts. Won't place it in the same places... etc. Or I draw, then look up references to fix things.

Offline Ridia

Re: Copyright issues
«Reply #6: November 30, 2011, 09:24:38 AM»

You may also find this here, on my DevArt: http://ridia.deviantart.com/art/What-Is-A-Copyright-31108790

Years ago, I was asked to write up one of my nearly-infamous Copyright rants for the Picasso's Pride forums (where I used to moderate), and for some warped reason, it turned from rant to essay-like-thing. I re-post this in almost every art community I participate in, as the compiled knowledge here, presented in what I hope is an easy to understand format, has helped to educate many artists, from beginner to advanced, in just what a copyright is and is not.

I hope that people here can find this contribution useful as well.

Bear in mind:

    You really need to check your local laws for this sort of stuff.

This was originally drafted for an American audience dealing with an American game with servers hosted in America. If you are not located in America, you will need to double-check some information with localized sources.


What is a copyright?

n. Abbr. c. or cop.
The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work. " (Dictionary.com)

As the definition states, copyrights exist to assure that the creator of the copyrighted material is the individual who gets to earn the profit from their work, and gives them the legal control over what they created. The control it grants is the right to decide when, where and how the creation is used or published within the United States and other countries.

This means that when you create something such as a piece of character art, you initially hold the right to decide what to do with it – upload it to a web space, let a friend use it, stick it on DeviantArt or your own website, or even to sell the piece itself. When uploading the piece to places such as DeviantArt, FurAffinity, Hentai-Foundry, and Furcadia, you need to pay close attention to their Terms of Service, as the legal text will state that by uploading the material, you grant the service provider certain rights stated in their ToS, which is again exercising your copyright.

What Does A Copyright Cover?

Copyrights cover any tangible materials that fall into one of the eight following categories; Literary works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, musical works, sound recordings, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, motion pictures and other audio-visual works, and architectural works.

You cannot copyright things such as an idea, process, system, or discovery. Things that have no tangible form cannot be protected by copyrights. Commonly used information, basic names, titles, short phrase, lists and things such as phonebooks and periodic tables cannot be protected by copyright. Ideas may not be covered by copyright, but a specific presentation of the idea is copyrightable. For example, you cannot copyright dragons, but if you were to write a book about dragons (Such as Anne McAffery’s Pern series), or draw a picture of a dragon (such as Neondragonart.com), those specific instances are protected by copyright.

How Can I Get My Works Protected?

Your work is automatically protected from the moment it is created in a tangible form. You can easily label your work’s copyright by using the word Copyright, the abbreviation Copr., or the symbol © together with the year of the material’s first publication as well as the name of the copyright holder. For example, ©2006 L.E. Snyder is just as valid as Copyright 2006 L.E. Snyder and Copr. 2006 L.E. Snyder.

With artwork, it’s best to put the copyright notice directly on, or displayed right near the artwork in question.

The Copyright Act of 1976 (contained in title 17 of the U.S. Code) governs copyrights within the U.S..

To help further protect your copyright, you can register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registering your copyright is completely optional, and it is merely a legal formality intended to make a public record. There are many advantages to registering your copyright. Registering establishes a public record of the copyright claim, and it is necessary to register your copyright before you may file an infringement suit in court.

If the work in question was made before or within five years of publication, registering the copyright will establish ‘prima facie’ (Latin for ‘at first sight’) evidence in court for the validity of the copyright and the facts stated in the certificate.

Another advantage is that if the registration is made within three months after the publication of the work, or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.

Registering a copyright allows the owner to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. You can get further information on this by requesting Publication No. 563 “How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Right,” from:

U.S. Customs Service
P.O. Box 7404
Washington, D.C. 20033

You may register your copyright at any time during the span of the copyright (your lifetime plus seventy years after your death). Registering your copyright can be done easily. All the steps can be found on the U.S. Copyright Office website (http://www.copyright.gov/register/)

How Long Does A Copyright Last?

Within the U.S., a copyright is valid for the lifespan of the creator plus 70 years after his or her death. Copyrights held by companies last for 95-120 years, depending upon whether or not the work has been published.

What Is The Berne Convention?

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is an international agreement on copyrights. The convention was first adopted in 1886 in Berne, Switzerland. The United States became party to the Berne Convention in 1989. The Berne Convention requires it’s signatories to protect the copyrights on works of authors from other signatory countries. A signatory is a country or person that is bound by a signed agreement, treaty, or document. If you live in a country that is a member of the Berne Union, your copyright is valid in 160 countries as of January of 2006.

What Countries is My Copyright Valid In?

Assuming you are a citizen of one of the 160 (as of January 2006) countries in the Berne Union, your copyright can be protected in the following countries:

Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Can I Sell My Copyright?

You can sell or license your copyright just like with patents or trademarks. Any and all rights of ownership in a copyrighted work can be sold, licensed, or transferred to another party. A legal agreement outlining the transfer will usually accompany the license or sale.

What Are Common Misconceptions About Copyrights?

Many believe that anything without a copyright notice is not copyrighted. This is not true. In the USA, almost everything created privately and originally after April 1st, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether or not it has a notice. It is always safest to assume that a work is protected by copyright.

Another common misconception is that anything posted on the internet is Public Domain (free for use by anyone). This is not true. Unless a work is specifically stated to be public domain by its copyright holder, then you must always assume that the work is protected by copyright.

As many artists are aware, there are people out there who will find a picture that they like, take it, and use it to represent their character. They may argue that as long as they state they didn’t make the artwork themselves, it’s fine. It is in fact not. As stated under ‘What is a Copyright’, copyright holders have the right to decide when, where and how the creation is used or published within the United States and other countries. This includes the internet. This also ties into the ‘free advertising’ argument. Again, if the artist wanted free advertising, they would allow people to repost their work.

Copyright violation can be a crime. In the U.S.A., a commercial copyright violation involving more than 10 copies or a value higher than $2,500 is a felony.

What is ‘Fair Use’?

Fair use is a copyright principle. It means that people can use of portions of copyrighted materials without permission, for purposes of commentary and criticism. This is most obvious in criticism on literary works, as without this right, a copyright holder could put a stop to any negative reviews of their work. Parodies also fall under Fair Use.

A copyright holder can dispute whether or not the use of their material fell under Fair Use, and such disagreements can be resolved in court or via arbitration. In the case that the use was deemed not to fall under Fair Use, then the copyright has been infringed upon and the copyright owner may be entitled to restitution for damages.

In cases regarding fair use disputes, judges will weight four factors. These factors are; the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market.

What Are Terms Commonly Found in Art Communities Regarding Copyrights?

The terms below are ones that are commonly found in art communities on the internet and are involved with copyrights.

Copying a picture can also be called Sight Drawing. It is where you look at one image and re-draw it, exactly or with minor changes (clothing, hair, expression). This applies to drawn or rendered images as well as photos. The originals, unless declared Public Domain by their owners, are protected by copyrights, and as such copying other images or artwork is often considered ‘art theft’. This is similar to referencing, except that the goal here is to re-create the source image rather than use the source image to help you create something different.

Referencing is where you reference to a picture or pictures to help you create another picture which is not a copy of the referenced piece. An example of referencing is using a photograph to figure out how the muscles of a leg would look in a pose similar to the one you are drawing, or just how the male torso looks in a certain position to help you pull off the anatomy. A piece created with referencing should not be a copy of the original(s) used. Referencing in general is okay, as referencing is not technically copying. If you reference heavily from another piece, it is best to credit the sourse.

Pose Jacking:
Pose Jacking is taking a pose from one image and using it completely in another image where it is very obviously identifiable as being the exact same pose and copied from the original. This is a fairly sticky area as people's opinions may differ on this topic.

Art Theft:
Art theft is any instance in which an artist’s artwork is copied, traced, taken in entirety, edited, or otherwise used without permission. Art theft is more accurately called Copyright Infringement.

Some small parts of this document are taken directly from the sources, as paraphrasing would risk losing or changing the meaning of the text. This document exists for educational purposes. I am in no way a lawyer or an expert on copyrights; please direct any inquiries to someone who is.

This text may contain errors. If any errors are found, please report them to me so as I may update the text with corrections.