Spotlight on Copyrights

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The Spotlight
Copyrights, Jenifer Keeling - April 2004

Our resident Renderosity Copyright Agent, Jenifer Keeling, is hosting a week long Q & A session to help members better understand the confusing areas of copyrights and how they apply to wonderful world of computer generated art.

Background: I was born in Virginia, raised in Florida and found my home in Nashville, Tennessee. I started working in the Internet industry in 1995 when hired as an Administrative Assistant for a local ISP that Tim Choate founded. In that company I developed the joy of learning, especially in the areas related to Internet Services. I have experience as an Accounting Specialists, Technical Support Manager, and Customer Service Manager. I now serve as the VP of Finance for Bondware, Inc, the parent company of Renderosity. At Renderosity since September of 2000, I have served as Marketplace Tester & Manager and I currently serve as Financial Manager, one of the site's Administrators and its Copyright Agent.



Hi, I'm Jenifer Keeling, the Copyright Agent for Renderosity. This position can be extremely difficult at times. I'm not real sure how or why the position became mine, since I didn't apply for it. I think it started when I was testing textures, and realized there was a need to educate people about copyright violations. So, I guess you could say I volunteered for it....hence my inauguration as a true Tennessean (TN is known as the Volunteer State).

Although I have very few friends from this position, I do love being a part of the Renderosity community and serving the members. I enjoy browsing the galleries in my free time and I am constantly amazed at the talent I see in the members here�so whether I�m popular or not, I like knowing that I�m working to protect artists� copyrights.

I decided to host this spotlight to help members understand the complexities of the US copyright laws Renderosity adheres to and how they apply to 2D and 3D graphic artists. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that many members do not live in the US and are not familiar with our governing laws. There is also a lot of misunderstanding with the terminology that is used. (like personal use, commercial use, royalty free, resale, etc).



Today�s discussion is Copyright Laws & Myths

Questions will be answered until Friday, April 22nd at 5pm CST (server time) Please make sure you take the Spotlight Survey to give your comments and suggestions.

Daily Quizzes still available until Monday, April 26th, 2004!!

�Fair Use� Quiz Answers & Discussions

�Fan Art & Celebrity Likenesses� Quiz Answers & Discussions

�Licensing Rights & Work for Hire� Quiz Answers & Discussions

�Copyright Laws & Myths� Quiz Answers

Myth: File Sharing is legal.
FACT: File sharing is only legal when sharing items that you are the copyright holder of or that is in the public domain.

Myth: I can burn CDs of items I�ve purchased for sharing.
FACT: IT IS NOT legal to make them available to others (Like burning to CDs for others, share them on peer-to-peer services like Kazaa, put on the Web�even for free). It is legal to save purchased items to your hard drive or burn to personal CDs.

Myth: There is no harm in being a member of a file sharing site.
FACT: Joining any file-sharing site, means you are most likely sharing the items you have on your computer�including items you do not own the rights to make available to other. Any time you download a file from there you are automatically making it available to the world when you are online and your computer is at risk for getting viruses. You can be liable for up to $150,000 per item.

Myth: A friend used my computer, so I can not be held liable.
FACT: You can be held liable for damages if someone else uses your computer or Internet access to share files illegally.

Myth: Permission isn�t need on public domain items.
FACT: You could be violating other laws, such as Trademark, Patent, Privacy or Publicity laws, even if an items copyright has expired. Some items (like items marked anonymous) are presumed public domain when they are not.

Myth: If I change enough of an original work or make a different format or version, it�s considered fair use.
FACT: You can be held liable for copyright infringement for derivated works.

Myth: Only US citizens can register or use the benefits of U.S. copyright laws.
FACT: Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author.

Myth: Copyright protection cost too much for individuals.
FACT: A copyright registration is $30 and a collection of works can be registered as one item. Legal action for violations can get expensive, but certificates of ownership along with cease and desist letters can resolve problems without large expenses.

Myth: If there is no copyright mark, it�s public domain.
FACT: A copyright notice is not required in order to have copyright protection.

Myth: Fair Use allows me to use small amounts of works that have a copyright without infringing.
FACT: The �amount� is just one factor in Fair Use. The other factors would all also lean towards fair use, and although it�s a small amount as far as quantity goes, I could be violating the rights based on the amount in reference to quality.

There is a new quiz each day, and I�ll keep the Previous Quizzes available.

*Any discussion in response to questions posed within the Copyright Forum is meant only to provide general information about copyright and should be read as introductory rather than as definitive. No discussions are intended to be relied upon or can be construed as legal advice.

If you have a specific legal problem, you should seek qualified legal counsel.*

Q 1 by JenyK on April 19, 2004 11:50
I'm reposting a comment cobwebdesignz wrote:

I found out that even if you claim copyright on artwork, unless you can afford to back it up with legal means it only amounts to nothing, there needs to be a set of people who will help out artist's like myself who are just starting and get stung, we don't have enough cash to hire help and legal aid will not aid with copyright. :(

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 19, 2004 12:55
There are some agencies out their that help you document your work, but for the fees they charge you�re usually better off just registering your work through the US Copyright Office (or in your country, if not in the US). You do not have to be a US citizen to register your works in the US. Keep in mind these agencies do not help you find violators or help you with legal assistance. That is the responsibility of the copyright holder.

For your protection, you should consider registering your work so that you have a certificate to prove your legal rights. Then, you can pay an attorney for a simple cease & desist form letter that you can use anytime you find someone infringing on your copyrights. You could call a local attorney and ask what they would charge for just the letter. Most will charge a minimum of one or two hours, but can complete it within that time frame. Many companies prefer to avoid legal issues due to the time and expense. So, sending a letter (and maybe even a copy of your work and certificate) can work without having to go through an attorney every time.

If you see your work on a website, usually an email to the webmaster is all that is needed to get your work removed. If the webmaster does not remove it, you can contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP) to have it removed.

It�s important to weigh the �cost� or �effect� it has on your work to not take legal action. If you feel that the infringement seriously harms your income, then you should consult an attorney. There are quite a few attorneys today that do �free� initial consultations, and can advise you of the estimated cost and chances of winning that could help you decide if legal action is worth while. There are even some that will work for a percentage of what you receive in a judgment (this is usually when they feel the chances of winning a suit is very good).
Q 2 by jacoggins on April 19, 2004 12:20
Hi Jenifer, thanks for giving us your time to help us all here at Renderosity! And hello from another Nashvillian! My question is, as a photographer, do I need to register each individual image for copyright protection or do they become copyrighted as my "intellectual property" when I produce the image for print or sale? What are my options on doing this? Jack Coggins

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 19, 2004 01:10
You��re welcome �� I enjoy helping people learn more about copyrights.

You are not required to register your work in order to be a copyright holder. However, if you ever need to take legal action, you are required to register your work before a case can be taken to court. So, for your protection, it is best if you do register all your work.

It is probably too expensive for you to register every photograph you take. You may want to consider registering the ones you are going sell or display (to protect the ones that are at the highest risk for infringement).

Also, be careful about displaying them on websites, since that seems to be the largest producer of violations. If you display them online, it��s a good idea to register them and put copyright marks or text (although copyright marks are not required) on the page with the photos to help limit violations.
Q 3 by micah_dixon on April 19, 2004 2:35
Hey Jenifer, I have a question. I live in Seattle and under HWY 99 bridge there is this big concrete sculpture of a troll holding a vw bug in one hand. http://www.fremontseattle.com/myths/trolledit.htm Now there are plenty of rumors that you can't use images of this troll for anything. Yet, couple days ago, there are flyers all over the community of a moving sale a half block from the thing and it's printed on a pic of the troll. Well this is clearly using the image for market gain, even if on a small scale but still. What's going on there? Who is right and who is wrong. The second part to my question is, say it isn't a sculpture but a person, when do you have to have that persons permission to use the photo and what if you alter the pic? I am totally new to this wonderful world of expression and even though I don't want to have my rights walked on, I don't care to walk on anyone else's either. Thank you for your time and advice. Micah Dixon

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 19, 2004 03:47
Wow! That�s a very interesting story behind the troll. Well, I say there is a chance the person contacted the artist and got permission to use the troll image�but, more likely the person that did it is not aware that they could be infringing on someone�s copyright. It appears the person�s is using it as a landmark for directions sake, which some might try to argue is fair use and any funds made at the yard sale had no hindrance to the artist�s ability to earn an income. In fact, some would say that it serves to promote the artist.

You could call the chamber number listed on the site and let them know. The chamber will most likely make the person remove since the troll is copyrighted.

On the question of personal photos, you should get permission if they are not of you, even if you are going to alter the picture. The only reason media companies (such as tabloids, tv news, newspapers, etc) get by with images of celebrities is that �Fair Use� allows for news reporting.
Q 4 by merri on April 19, 2004 5:30
Hi Jenifer, I'm completely new to the world of 3d art ..I am studying illustration at the moment, and just seeking a little clarification with regards to 3d content purchased here at renderosity. My question is, once I purchase content am I then able to use it as I please in all of my artwork (still renders) which uses the content ..even if I my art is intended for publication and commercial purposes?

Thanks!

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 19, 2004 05:56
Yes, our Marketplace items are for commercial use, which means the final output (still renders) that you create with them can be used for print, presentations, animations, websites, etc.

You just can not use the items you purchase in a way the original components (like textures or models) can be extracted and re-distributed.
Q 5 by Haroon on April 19, 2004 5:35
Hi Jenifer, how about the use of digimark inside the pictures? Those pictures can be tracked in the internet (for a 'small' fee). Isn't that easier than getting each image registered? Volker Ali Harun

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 19, 2004 06:02
Yes, digital marks are an option. From what I understand of digital marks, some people can still remove the mark, cut them out or pieces of the image were the mark doesn't exist.

If you ever take legal action in the US, you will still have to register your work. Registration can be done online, and the current fees for basic registration is $30 per item.
Q 6 by Jeff1972 on April 19, 2004 6:43
I once heard that if you send a copy of your work including the dates and times the work was created to yourself through the certified mail system, that letter can be used as a copyright until you can get an official one, is this true. Thanks in advance for your help.

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 09:55
It's called a "poor man's copyright" :) You technically already have the copyright when you create it. It's fine to do that to prove dates (if envelope is unopen). But, you still have to pay the $30 to register it at the copyright office if you ever need to take legal action against someone.

Also, if you don't register your copyright properly, there is a chance someone could claim your work and register it. Then it's a little harder to prove it was yours before they claimed it as theirs. In that situation, your "poor man's copyright" could be useful.
Q 7 by VegiDog on April 19, 2004 8:35
Is it ok to use pictures that don't belong to you, as reference for drawing/painting/etc?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 02:45
That's question is a little tricky, because there are four factors to consider as to whether the photograph's use is fair and what do you intend to do with your final drawing or painting.

The photographer does have the copyright on that specific image; therefore, if you determined your drawing or painting is not fair use, you would need get the photographers permission.

A good rule of thumb is if you are not sure, get permission. It's much easier (usually) to get permission before the fact than to deal with a law suit :)
Q 8 by MachineClaw on April 19, 2004 8:37
Jeny thanks for all your tireless (sometimes thankless) work that you do, it's very much appricated :)

Could you explain a bit about "Likeness" as it pertains to copyright, or more approperatly to Trademark. Often in the community we see something that is a clone of a item from a TV show or movie with altered text or a different name. Where are the rules on likeness or similarity? What about all those 3d models out there of movie models, spaceships, clothing costumes for Poser etc. are they ALL violations? Thanks again :)

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 02:50
Excellent question! But, your getting ahead of me :)

There is a quiz today about "Fan Art & Celebrity Likenesses" that we'll be discussing tomorrow.

So, I hope you won't mind me putting off your answer until tomorrow. No, cheating! :) I give answers away during the quiz, geez. *wink*
Q 9 by Man O' War on April 19, 2004 9:31
Scenario 01: In developing a sound track for a demo reel, I am considering taking on a student, classical quartet.

While various arrangements can be made for utilzing their product for particular purposes, are there any additional concerns? For instance, when a singer professionally, performs a song written by someone else, does he/she have to secure written approval and/or pay royalties to its author? I would also assume that if such is the case, then works over fifty years or so would be more or less royalty free.

Scenario 02: I'm wanting to put some 17th century artwork into some 3d work. I have downloaded several jpegs from a museum. I assume there is a distinction between owning artwork and owning its copyright. At the same time, in many museums, one cannot photograph works of art. Is this an oblique way of circumventing royalty-free use, with the institution not holding the copyright?

TIA

manowar

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 03:14
Scenario 1: oh, I'm not as familiar with musical copyrights, but given you read the disclosure at the bottom (this isn't legal advise) and realize this is just discussion I'll try to answer the best I can.

I do know there are actually two copyrights to one song. One is for the musical composition and one is for the lyrics. So, yes, you'd need the approval from *both* copyright holders to use. And, yes, you'd have to pay royalties to them. I believe BMI, ascap, and...(ugh! I forgot the other big one)....have online searchable databases to find the copyright holders. However, there is most likely a fee to use them.

The life of a copyright depends on the date it was created (or sometimes filed for registration), and whether the registration has been renewed. Most family estates will renew copyrights, so investigate whether the work is public domain or not. Many times in music, the publisher is a business that holds the copyright, and they pay people good money to make sure copyrights are renewed so they can't fall into public domain. Assumptions should lean towards caution and the belief that if you don't own it don't use it without permission or verifying (and documenting) public domain.

Scenario 2: Copyrights apply to derivited works (like different mediums), so again I'd advise caution and if you don't own the copyright don't use it. If you really want to use it thoroughly research who the copyright holder is and get permission or verify (and document your verification) that the item you want to re-create is public domain.
Q 10 by rdf on April 20, 2004 12:16
My father was an inventor, and I know it is an unfortunate fact that patent law only protects those who have the money to burn, i.e., as with most laws, the patent laws are skewed to protect the rich. Through my father I became familiar with many cases in which a large corporation, using all sorts of delaying tactics, either backrupted a small businessman who was simply trying to enforce his patent, or ultimately only had to pay him a pittance because they'd worn him down in court. Now honestly, how is copyright law any different, and if it isn't any different, what real use it to anyone who isn't already rich?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 03:33
I'm not sure about the patent fees from years ago, but the fees is a big reason why so many people do not protect themselves.

Current fees in the US allow for inventors to qualify for a small entity statis (for independent inventors, small businesses or nonprofits). With this status, the filing fees are cut in half.

Copyright law works to protect. That protection does cost, but that's up to the individual as to whether they believe their work is valuable and it's worthwhile to pay a fee to register and/or take legal action when needed.

Copyright registration isn't a 100% guarantee that no one will violate your rights or that people can afford to take every violator to court, but has it's benefits. Cease & Desist letters usually resolve copyright infringements without having to go to court. I've seen hosting providers remove entire sites for copyright violations from a single email notification...and it didn't cost a penny.
Q 11 by rreynolds on April 20, 2004 9:00
Can an entire gallery of images be registered through the copyright office? That way, it would be a single expense rather than image by image.

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 12:06
Yes, you can submit several images under one "title" for the collection. Certain criteria have to be meet, and the copyright only covers the items in the collection at the time of copyright registration (does not cover additions).

I've provided the link to the US Copyright Office's info on REGISTRATION OF COLLECTIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS for your convenience.
Q 12 by rreynolds on April 20, 2004 9:14
A sample "cease and desist" letter is at http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/contract/cease.htm It's cheaper to go there than to spend a hundred dollars with a lawyer to draft the same thing.

Here's more info on digital watermarking http://www.digimarc.com/solutions/default.asp There used to be info on the costs of tracking an image, but I couldn't find it on the site. I seem to recall it was around $100.

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 11:14
This is great info! Thanks for sharing it with us.
Q 13 by Phantast on April 20, 2004 11:36
Can I ask a supplementary on micah's question? Surely if someone takes a photo that happens to have a sculpture in it, the copyright of the PHOTO belongs to the photographer. The sculptor's copyright prevents someone copying the sculpture (as another sculpture). Equally, how can someone's face be copyright when it isn't even a created work? You might as well say that a tree is copyrighted, or a hill, or a rock.

Otherwise we might as well trash all our cameras if we can't go into the street and take a photo without something in the shot being somebody's copyright. If this is the way the law is heading, it's madness; someone ought to introduce some sanity into it.

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 03:42
Yeap...copyrights on photographs is really confusing.

A copyright on a sculpture is supposed to protect against derivited works. A photograph of a sculpture could be seen as a derivited work or as fair use. It goes back to the four factors I listed above to consider whether a copyright violation has occured. The cost doesn't make sense for a sculptor to take everyone to court that takes a photograph of their work. Although the sculptor has the rights, the fair use has to be factored in.
Q 14 by electroglyph on April 20, 2004 3:56
I use my Arial font that came with my registered copy of Microsoft Office to create 3D letters and sell a set A-Z in the marketplace. Is that a violation of copyright? If it is, does Microsoft own every page of text I write with Arial Font?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 08:16
Variations of typographic ornamentation or lettering does not qualify for copyright under US law. Some fonts are actually pictures, which those unique items could qualify for a copyright.

Even if the fonts are copyrightable, you still own the documents you create with it.
Q 15 by OddDitty on April 20, 2004 7:09
In brief, would you outline the differences between Trademark, Copyright, and Patent?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 20, 2004 08:54
Sure. I'll try to keep it brief :)

a Copyright is a claim of authorship that gives the creator protection of their exclusive rights (or permit others). The protection is for published and unpublished works that include artistic, literary, dramatic, musical and other intellectual works. The copyright holder has the right to reproduce the work, make derivative works, distribute copies of work by sale or for free, to perform the work, to display the work, prevent use of name on other's works, prevent other from using their work. Fair use places some limits on the copyright holder's exclusive rights.

a Trademark is a brand (or brand name). It can be a name, a symbol, or device that is to be used for market recognition of a company, manufacturer, seller or their products. Note that celebrities can get Trademarks on their names.

a Service mark is really the same as a Trademark, but it is used to recognize a source of service instead of a tangible product.

a Patent is a grant of property rights for an invention of a tangible product. A patent excludes others from being able to make it, use it, or sell it in the US without their permission (usually with a good price tag). The Patent protection does not become valid until the date the grant is issued--which can take a long time.
Q 16 by vlad69 on April 20, 2004 11:29
It could be usefull that you read the information in the adress that rrynolds posted, it has a "crash course in copyright" i think it can help those like me that are beginner on it =) (sorry for english, no my native languaje)

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 21, 2004 10:17 I agree. rrynolds post with links for a cease & desist letter is great info that all members should read for their protection.
Q 17 by AntoniaTiger on April 21, 2004 4:01
Doesn't the international nature of the Internet make life even more complicated. I'm in the UK, and my own website/domain-name is in the .uk TLD, and British Copyright Law has quite a few differences from US Law. But if somebody in the US did something with one of my pictures published in the UK, which set of laws would apply? And how would the international copyright conventions apply?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 03:42
Usually, the first step would be to try to resolve any problem directly with the violator.

There are International Trade laws that would supercede a specific countries. You might want to read about the "Berne Copyright Convention" and the development of WIPO for more information.

There are 180 Countries that participate in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which was created to help protect the rights of creators and copyright owners of intellectual property worldwide. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center offers arbitration and mediation for private parties. The cost can be high, but most likely cost less than trying to handle an intellectual property dispute internationally with an attorney that may not be as familiar with other countries legal systems.
Q 18 by tresamie on April 21, 2004 5:27
In doing Fractal Art, I make use of gradients or palettes of color. I have a program that will analyse any jpg I submit to it and produce a gradient using the colors. I have made some gradients from famous artworks, on the theory that a famous artist understands about pleasing color combinations (lol). Am I infringing on the artist's copyright?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 11:20
Hum....that's a good question. If you use someone else's image (that you didn't purchase a license to use or get permission) to create the fractal, then yes, it can be considered a derivated work which is a copyright violation.

However, it depends on whether the fractual is being used "fairly" (four "fair use" factors to consider are the purpose, nature, amount, and effect). So, if you bought the image with a license for commercial use, you could sell the fractual (provided the original work could not be extracted). If you didn't buy it or get permission, you could use it in accordance with the "fair use" provision in the copyright laws. You could get permission to use. When asking someone for permission you should clearly state how you intend use their image (personal or commercial).
Q 19 by B-Man on April 22, 2004 2:28
If I take some photo with my DC. So i have the copyright of the photo. Is it right ?At first I have the permission to take photo =)

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 03:47
That would depend on what you are taking a picture of and what your intentions are as to what you would be doing with the photo.

If example: you wouldn't have any rights to take a photo of a painting that already has a copyright, and then make copies and sell it. If you haven't already read about the "fair use" factors, you should read it.
Q 20 by HonorMac on April 22, 2004 3:06
A few notes... The certified letter approach is of very limited value since it can be argued that you mailed yourself an unsealed envelope and put the image in later, etc. Far better to print a copy of the image on a sheet of paper, type up a description and date, sign it and have it notarized with a legend along the lines of "on such and such a date, the person known to me or legally identified to be the aforesigned came before me purporting to have created the above described and reproduced image as an original work of art."

Also, on the last question in the quiz: there are several situations in which you do not need the permission of a photographed individual to sell or distribute a photograph of them. If, for instance, I snap a photo of Tom Cruise leaving a bar and use the photo in an advertisement implying or stating his endorsement of the bar, I am in violation. If I take the same photo and use it in a new story stating he was in the bar, I am not.

And, last... Thanks for this week's discussions. I think they'll be very valuable, and I'm enjoying them :-)

~Honor

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 11:08
Yeah, I agree that a notarized copy of your work to prove dates is better than the "poor-man's copyright"...if you can not register your work.

I have purposely put a few "trick" questions in the quizes :) I did it in hopes of more discussion around the standards and exceptions. Yes, you're right. Photos of people fall under state Publicity/Privacy laws and are a little different than copyright. Although, the factors for copyright's fair use are usually considered in Publicity cases, too.

I'm glad to know you like this week's spotlight.
Q 21 by HonorMac on April 22, 2004 3:32
On the comment I posted a few minutes ago, I don't think I remembered to mention: Even having a copy of the image signed and notarized will only serve as a certain amount of evidence as to the date of creation. As you've pointed out, there is no substitute for registration in the event you wish to press suit in court.

~H

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 11:10
I concur!
Q 22 by Terrielee on April 22, 2004 6:21
Suppose I buy a character (say a fairy) and create a line of greeting cards (still art) and sell them, who owns the copyright to the fairy? Me (the 2d artist) or the artist who created the 3d character? Thanks for your time and for a very interesting forum! :)

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 11:27
When you buy a fairy and there is a license that allows for commercial use, you can create "final, rendered images" that become your copyright. Your copyright is *not* for the 3d model or textures. The 3D modeler still owns their copyright to the model. The modeler has only sold you a "License Right" to use as a piece of your image. A "Final, rendered image" does not allow the person buying your image to extract the model. You do *not* have the right to sell or give away the model, only the completed image you created.

Today's topic is "Licensing Rights" so you may want to check back in a little bit for more detailed information.
Q 23 by hauksdottir on April 22, 2004 8:02
So, where is the discussion about celebrity likenesses and fan art? I found the quiz answers, but given the raw number of clones in the galleries and in the various marketplaces, it is obvious that more information is needed. I was appalled at the number of people who believe that stealing other people's likenesses is legal.

Thanks for tackling copyrights at all!

Carolly

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 03:50
That discussion was moved to the top of page that also has the Fan Art & Celebrity Likeness Quiz results.
Q 24 by newpy on April 22, 2004 9:49
Jenifer: I am completely new to this art world in regards to copyrights. I have several questions: When I use a poser figure (like a P4 person or Victoria)and I make dial or magnet changes, is it considered my figure to sell or is it an infringment? I had a art class and did a recreation of an well know artist(Pre 1900's)and from some recreations from photographs, is it considered an infringment? Thank you for your wonderful work in educating us.

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 03:58
Both cases can be derivated works, which are copyright violations. However, in the case of a recreation in an art class that could be considered educational, and given you do not violate any other factor in the Fair Use provision, it would not be a copyright violation. Some older, well know art works are still protected by other country's laws, but in cases where they are not, you can get a copyright on your recreation.

For more information, you can check out the US Copyright Office's website.
Q 25 by JohnRender on April 22, 2004 1:01
Is there any kind of definitive answer about the legality of *free* items made from movies? Sure they are "fan art", but are the Star Wars lightsabers, Star Trek ships, and LOTR rings and swords *illegal*? Even though the copyright holderers (LucasFilm, Paramount, New Line Cinema) may not actively come after artists here, should we not be making them in the first place?

And, by extension, do these items make Renderosity (acting as the provider) liable?

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 22, 2004 04:17
You might want to read our discussion about "Fan Art" and the answers to the quiz questions.

Based on the US copyright law, those items could be seen as derivated works which does violate the copyright holder's rights. The fact that it's being given away instead of sold does not negate the violator's liability. Since I'm making it available on the web, that also leans heavily toward a violation.

The other side of the dispute is that I made this item 100% on my own only using a Star Wars lightsaber as an inspiration. If I didn't use any of the original images of the Star Wars lightsaber, then how can I violate it's copyright? All art is inspired by something--a place, a person, a feeling, an experience, etc.

The four factors of "Fair Use" (purpose, nature, amount and effect) would be used to determine whether it is a copyright violation. Until there is a court case to use as a reference, I doubt you'll get a good definitive answer :)

Renderosity does not host the "Free Stuff" items. Those are links to other people's websites. So, Renderosity is not liable. But, we are proactive in protecting copyrights and remove any link to items that are in question.
Q 26 by Terrielee on April 22, 2004 7:40
Do you know where one can find a Photographers "release form" (to provide to a sitter) so one can obtain that sitter's permission to use his or her image for commercial use? Thank you in advance! This forum is GREAT! :)

A by Jenifer Carey (JenyK) on April 23, 2004 11:05
You can use search engines to find several examples of "Photo release forms". But for your convenience, I've listed a few URLs to some. Of course, you will need to modify them to fit your needs.

http://www.scouts.ca/media/documents/release.pdf
http://www.lemoyne.edu/library/copyright_appendixf.htm
http://www.rizwandarphotography.com/content/release_form.doc
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-46694