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  1. #1
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    Copyright issues

    Umm, yeah, I'm wondering if you have some info on copyright issues.

    It's very hard(for me at least) to find reference images without finding them in a book, magazine, or on the web.

    That is; you'll find them if you search long and hard, but they're mostly copyrighted/someone else's work.

    As an artist, I can appreciate the fact that photographers want to copyright their creations just as much as a painter would want to copyright/protect his/hers.

    What i'm wondering is; can I use an image I find on say Google Image Search, as a reference, and when my artwork is done, claim the copyright(for my work)?

    After all, this painting based on a photo(or photos) is my work in that case, although the original photo is his/her work.

    So how am I to go about this?

    Do these rules only apply if I'm about to sell any of my stuff, or does it not matter?

    Pretty 'childish' questions perhaps, but I haven't really had to think about stuff like this before.

    I only took up drawing/painting again very recently, and would like to make more out of it than I've done so far.


    On my site, I have put 'copyright' on some of the images, because they are my work. But I haven't sent in any applications or forms to get a 'legal copyright'(if that's even needed).

    So.....I guess I just need some general info on how this works.


    These questions arose after I saw how the makers of the Terminator site said we couldn't use images from the Terminator movies, except as very loose references.


    I guess I wouldn't want anyone to copy my work and put their copyright on it, even though that was their work, so... Copyright issues

    Guess perhaps I answered my own questions there at the end....


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  3. #2
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    BUMP because I haven't gotten any real answers to a couple of the important questions.

  4. #3
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    Be nice to John P. Everyone or i'll eat your feet off.:mad:

  5. #4
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    For the sake of our collective little feet, here are a few places to start from :

    What is copyright ?

    Aimée Major "Respect the Artists" (v good read)


  6. #5
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    hahah that's weird, aimee was a classmate of mine. oh, ON TOPIC though... i know what you mean... you don't know what you can copyrite and what you can't... here's an interesting example. when Superman came out... all these other superhero comics came out too. the company was pissed and sued. but they couldn't. "superman" was a trade mark. his uniform,and his desgn was copyrighted, but the IDEA of a superhero was not. Anyway, as far as i know, if you can show a design to a layman on the street of say, a superhero, and they say, oh, that looks like superman, you're in trouble if your seeling that as (my super-guy) but if you get permission from the company that licenses superman to do your own design of him and sell it, you're okay... on the other hand, you're not asking about selling something, right? SOOOO, for example (someone correct me if i'm wrong... on my site, i have three drawings of chewbacca from starwars. on it, i say i obviously did not make up chewbacca, but the way i designed him is mine. i probably won't get any trouble for that, i'm not claiming i made up the character, but if somebody else took my design of chewie and said it was there's... i can say it wasn't here's my design i made in 2000 or whatever. AGAIN, if i tried to sell a shirt with my design on it, i'd be in a hella lotta trouble w/ the man. that's all my knowledge about it.

    what i don't know is, what's the diff between a copyrite and a trademark? i guess i could look it up...

    oh, on another note, anybody here about how the copyrite law was extended to protect early mickey mouse? bad bad disney co.

  7. #6
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    Thanks to egerie for the links, and you others for the other comments. It was pretty much what I needed to know.

    Of course - a reference is a reference and not a straight copy of a photo for instance, but if it's close enough to the photo, the photographer might still be a little crossed that you 'copied' it. So that's why I asked.

    Anyway - I got what I needed to know. I guess the best way to get reference is to draw from life, or take the pictures yourself.


    (oh - I used to go by the nick ¤ N G ¤ - so I was the thread starter, in case you were wondering)

  8. #7
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    Copyright law was recently changed so that you no longer have to send any information to the copyright office in D.C. in order for it to be copyrighted. As I understand it, as soon as you create something, it is automatically copyrighted, so long as you write "Copyright 2003 Richard P. Dinkle" on it.

    Regarding using another person's image: this is a dicey issue. If you are using a photograph to base a painting or drawing on, the only legal issue would arise if you tried to make money off of it, so long as it is clearly evident that you used said image. I had a professor tha once used a photo from National Geographic for an illustration and almost got in big trouble for it, so be careful.

    However, if you change the image enough that it could arguably not be the image in question, or has become part of a new image (like say, in a collage), then there isn't really a problem.

    So, if you draw a picture of Chewbacca to use for a tattoo or the hood of your car, to hang in your living room or, more likely, to use in your portfolio, there is no legal issue, and you could even, theoretically, copyright the image, but mention that the CHARACTER is the copyright of Lucasfilm.

    But if you use that image on the side of your ice-cream truck, your insurance company, or in your published independent comic book, you need permission before you can use it (although I imagine some have gotten away with using copywritten characters in comic books because who wants to sue penniless comic book artists?). Nobody really starts to care about these things until you start making big bucks and that your usage of said copywritten character is more than just a "homage".

    But Disney has been known to crack down on mom and pop companies that use Mickey Mouse for their little pastry shop or pizza delivery business in Po-Dunk Louisiana.

    There is more info on these things in the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook if you are interested.... it can be found in most book stores.....

    ALSO (I know this is long-winded, sorry) If you really want to copyright your images more securely, you can still send them off to the copyright office for official government recognition of your copyright, and an easy way of doing this is by video-taping each of your still images for at least 3 seconds each, and then sending that one video tape off to be copyrighted, instead of having to pay and fill out paperwork for each image... much easier.

    Finally, I think trademark mostly has to do with logos, phrases and images associated with your business, which (I think) can never become public domain so long as your company still exists. For instance, if you own a company and you invent a widget, and a slogan to advertise your widget, you can trademark your company name, the logo, the widget (along with the word "widget") and the slogan that you use to sell the widget. But this process is longer, harder and more expensive because there are very strict rules as to what can be copyrighted and it has to be approved by government panels...

    I think I got all that right. Hope it helps....


    -S.A.M.

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