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Topic: ATCs and copyright  (Read 1885 times)
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claustrophilia
« on: January 16, 2007 05:22:03 PM »

1. About the copyright issue... I have all these gorgeous postcards my mom collected during the 80s, and thought it would be great to make ATCs with. But then I thought about the copyright issue. I mean, some of the postcards feature the word of artists like Van Gogh, and Chagall... I know they're long dead, but even so... would it be unethical/wrong to use images of their paintings in my ATCs? Would I have to credit their work? I'm a little confused about whether it's okay to use others' images... I remember someone made these cool Dame Darcy ATCs a while back... I guess that's okay since the ATC theme was Dame Darcy's work. But even if I made an ATC that wasn't themed "Van Gogh", would it be acceptable to use pieces of Van Gogh's work? Thank you!! (Sorry about the length Undecided)

I'm positive there is a link that explains all this... but for some reason I can't find it!!
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ikillbarbies
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007 05:59:41 PM »

I believe, and I'll try to find references later when I'm home, that a replica (ie photo) of a painting is not breaking the copyright of the artist. However, that specific photograph can be copyrighted.  Basically, it's not Van Gogh that you'd be violating, it would be the postcard company. But it would probably fall under fair use.
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Colorfuldayz
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007 07:02:13 PM »

My understanding was also that copyright infringement was when you sold an item that used someone else's image. With ATCs, you aren't selling them, so I "choose" Grin to believe that copyright doesn't really apply. I would think that they are considered more "personal use". At least, that is what I will plead to the judge ...
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Sindy
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007 07:27:39 PM »

My understanding was also that copyright infringement was when you sold an item that used someone else's image. With ATCs, you aren't selling them, so I "choose" Grin to believe that copyright doesn't really apply. I would think that they are considered more "personal use". At least, that is what I will plead to the judge ...

That's what I thought, too.
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ikillbarbies
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007 08:04:41 PM »

Using copyrighted images without permission is illegal, no matter what the use.  However, no one really pays attention to it until you sell it (unless it's Disney, they sue everyone who even thinks "Mickey Mouse").  I just got home, so I'll try to find some information to back this up.
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ikillbarbies
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2007 09:19:43 PM »

Okay, I'm a massive dork and decided to research this.

The term "fair use" is not the correct one, it refers to reproducing parts of a copyrighted piece for education, criticism, etc.

Most of our work falls under "Derivative Works," which means we are altering the original to create a new work. It depends on what you do with your finished work, what effect it will have on the original, and how much of the original you used. 

If it is public domain, as long as you put some creative effort into it, it's yours to play with.

If the copyright is still good (until 70 years after the artist dies), it gets tricky.

The basic guidelines seem to be that you must alter the work to use it (you can't just print/cut out a photo and call it your ATC).  It can not be damaging, or infringing on the originals ability to make their own derivative works.  For example, if Disney decides to make their own ATCs, or even if they think they might possibly want to some time in the very distance future, they can sue anyone who uses their images in ATCs.  Extreme example, I know.  Just buying a book of images does not seem to give you the right to use them.  You need to buy or get permission per image, I believe.

Now if this makes sense to anyone, I'll be amazed.  I'm not sure if I even understand all of this.

Claustrophilia - Based on what I read, altering the paintings is fine, however it is the postcard company that owns those specific prints of the paintings.  I believe that since you (or your mom) bought the postcards they are yours to use, under the "first sale" rule.  You cannot, however, reproduce the images.  Although, I believe that means you can only use each image once, they probably didn't have transfer techniques in mind when they wrote that law.  Silly judges for not realizing that you need the image to be printed in toner ink.

Here is one site that I got great information from and has a good FAQ about derivative works: Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: Derivative Works.  They have a lot more information, I just wanted to keep to the original question.
ArtLex Art Dictionary has basic information and several links to other sites about copyright.
10 Big Myths about Copyright does say that infringement is infringement whether you sell it or not. (sorry ladies!)

Disclaimer: I am NOT affiliated with the law in anyway.  In fact the closest I get to the law is that one day I'll probably be arrested and/or sued for breaking it.

Wow, I'm even more of a dork than I thought. Now that I've researched all of this, I'm going to continue to make ATCs that break almost every law.
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claustrophilia
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2007 02:33:54 AM »

Whew! Thanks everyone... and ikillbarbies for your research. And the postcards aren't PICTURES of the paintings, they're prints. (I don't exactly know the difference, but I think it means they're mini replicas --scanned? Basically that means the photographer doesn't matter.)

I think I'll just use the pictures if need arise... because I write letters to my friends all the time, and decorate my letters with scraps from cut up postcards. In a sense, the ATCs are like my "letters".

As for Disney... I hate Mickey Mouse anyway, so pooh to them.
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ikillbarbies
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007 05:40:52 AM »

As for Disney... I hate Mickey Mouse anyway, so pooh to them.

I started choking on my coffee at this.  Does that count as a pun?
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Radegund
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007 08:53:59 AM »

The Straight Dope did a four-part series on copyright a while back which was pretty good and, among other things, tries to get at why it was OK for Andy Warhol to make art featuring Campbell's Soup cans:

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcopyright1.htm
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcopyright2.htm
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcopyright3.htm
http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mcopyright4.htm
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Colorfuldayz
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007 08:41:50 PM »

Quote
As for Disney... I hate Mickey Mouse anyway, so pooh to them.


I started choking on my coffee at this.  Does that count as a pun?

That DEFINITELY counts as a pun!!

Thanks for all the copyright, ugh, clarification  Huh ... however, that totally trashes my "ignorance defense" when I get sued  Wink!
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