Even though you have copyright ownership as soon as you create your work, under U.S. law you have no rights to enforce your copyright until you register. Generally you must have filed for copyright registration before the infringement occurs in order to have the full scope of copyright protection (the exception is if you filed within three months of the first publication of your work; in that case, you have full protection even if the infringement occurs earlier).
This is an illustration by Modern Dog, a design company in Seattle, Washington. The illustration was created as end papers for a book that showcases their work.
This is a T-shirt that was created by Disney. When Modern Dog became aware of the T-shirt design after it appeared in Target as well as aired on the Showtime series Shameless several times, they contacted Disney to alert them of the copyright infringement. Disney denied that it was copyright infringement, insisting it was a unique design.
Modern Dog is suing Disney and Target, claiming they stole their artwork, printed it on t-shirts and sold it without their permission. They’ve been forced to sell their office space as well as liquify other assets to try and raise money for their legal battle. After close to two years of legal battles, the defendants still claim the artwork originated with them. Modern Dog has another court date this Sept.
http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2010/05/13/the-messy-world-of-fan-art-and-copyright/That being said, fair use may protect some fan creations from being an infringement, but that is handled on a case-by-case basis, looking at the facts of the actual work. However, most fan creations, by their very nature, don’t parody or criticize the source material, which would provide a great deal of protection, nor are they highly transformative, meaning that they are less likely to win in the even that such a suit takes place.
What does it look like
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This past Spring the artist Richard Prince made history when the court ruling against him for copyright infringement against him was overturned. The image on the left is a photograph by french Photographer Patrick Cariou from his book, “Yes, Rasta”, the image on the right the work of art by Prince for his “Canal Zone” series, shown at the Gagosian gallery in NY. In 2009 Cariou filed a copyright suit against Prince for copyright infringement. In 2011 Prince lost the case and was ordered to destroy all remaining catalogs and paintings from the series, any collectors who had bought the paintings would be informed it would illegal for them to show the work. Prince and Gagoisan gallery appealed the decision and won. In its decision the court wrote that Prince’s work conveyed an entirely different aesthetic and while Cariou’s photos depicted the natural beauty of Rastafarians and their environment, Prince’s work is jarring and provocative.
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These two images are of the same model, the one on the left is grossly distorted. While it is an example of photoshop at its worst, it also raises questions of what photo manipulation and its use in advertising does to a woman’s self-image by creating unrealistic ideals.
These two magazine covers appeared in the same week in June 1994, This digitally altered photograph of OJ Simpson on the left appeared on the cover of Time magazine shortly after Simpson’s arrest for murder. The original mug-shot that appeared, unaltered, on the cover of Newsweek on the right. Time magazine was subsequently accused of manipulating the photograph to make Simpson appear “darker” and “menacing”.
This is an Image that has been circulating widely on the internet in the US in response to the Trayvon Martin case when George Zimmerman was found not guilty. Zimmerman shot an unarmed 17 year old Travyon Martin last year when he was walking home from a 7-11 in a gated community in Florida because he said he felt threatened, Martin was wearing a hoodie the night he was killed. Graphic Designer Nikkolas Smith created this image using a hoodie and an image of Martin Luther King Jr. It has become an iconic symbol for those who that feel justice was not served.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/14/martin-luther-king-trayvon-martin_n_3595719.html
Graphic Design Clinic - Finding Images Online
Image Usage Rights
THE COPYRIGHT ACT
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the
laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to
the authors of “original works of authorship.”
Protection is available to both published and
unpublished works. Copyright defines who owns
Work must be original and creative to be
HOW TO CLAIM IT
With the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright is secured
automatically when the work is created, and a work
is “created” when it is fixed in a copy or
phonorecord for the first time.
WHAT WORKS ARE PROTECTED
musical works, including any accompanying words
dramatic works, including any accompanying music
pantomimes and choreographic works
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
motion pictures and other audiovisual works
HOW TO REGISTER IT
•Costs range from $35 and up with a range of options:
- Paper $65
- Pre-registration $115
- More options on site
Illustration by Modern Dog, a design company in Seattle, Washington
Public domain images are creative or original works
not protected under intellectual property laws.
Images whose copyrights have expired, or were never
copyrighted. The work is now owned by the public.
Once an image enters the public domain, anyone can
copy, manipulate, distribute, display or simply use it
anyway he wants without legal encumbrances.
The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial
number of court decisions over the years. The various
purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work
may be considered fair could include criticism, comment,
news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be
unclear and not easily defined. Copyright protects the
particular way an author has expressed himself. It does not
extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information
conveyed in the work.
The safest course is always to get permission from the
copyright owner before using copyrighted material.
Image on left by Shepard Fairey, image on right original photograph by AP photographer Manny Garcia