Lesson #1 What is Copyright?

2005 - 2012 by Cru aka Tori Beveridge All Rights Reserved

Is That Copyright?

How many times have you heard, read, or maybe even asked, "Is that copyright?"

The answer is always going to be "Yes."

Everything is copyright to someone. (unless it is in the Public Domain, which will be covered in another lesson)

If you take a photograph, that picture is yours. You own the copyright to it. Your name and copyright symbol does not have to appear on it. You still own it.

If you write a story, you own the copyright to the story. If you write a poem, you own the copyright to the poem.

The same thing happens if you draw or paint something from scratch, either with pen, brush or with a computer graphics program, such as Paint Shop Pro. You created the art, you own the copyright to it.

You can put your own copyright on it, on the computer by holding down the ALT key and pressing 0 1 6 9 on your numerical pad. Try it.

You can proudly put it on your creations.

What about artwork on the internet then? Is it copyright to someone? That's right! You've got it! Yes! It is. It's copyright to the artist.

Now... in the community of tubers, taggers, stationery makers, website designers on the web, how many of us have seen art used in these ways, where no copyright to the original artist is on the designs? We see that "So and So Designs" made the tag or the tube or the stationery, but what about the painting they have used to create it with? Where did that come from and who painted it originally? Just because the symbol and the artist's name is not on this new creation does not make it any less the original artist's creation. They still retain the copyright to it.

So what exactly does Copyright mean?

Copyright means exactly what it says... it gives the creator of a creative work the exclusive right to decide and control who can and can not distribute, make copies of, derivative works of or perform or display their originals. So, in other words... if you make a pixel painting, you get to control who can make copies of it and how they do it.

The Copyright Act of 1976 gave among others, the following rights to copyright owners:

Distribution Right: the right to sell or distribute copies of their work

Reproduction Right - the right to make copies of their work

The Right to Create Derivatives - the right to create new work based on the original work, to change or adapt it

Performance and Display Rights - the rights to perform a play, or musical piece, for example, in public, or to display their art in public.

Of the other rights given by the Copyright Act, there is one more that affects us: the right to prevent the use of his or her name as the author of the work of visual art in the event of a distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation

These rights are exclusive to the copyright owner. The copyright owner may transfer or sell any or all of these rights and may put whatever limitations they choose on these rights, such as what you read in an artist's Terms of Use.

If an artist or copyright holder transfers all of his copyrights over without conditions, this is called "an assignment".

If only some of the copyrights are transferred, this is known as licensing. If the artist licenses the work, the license holder might "take ownership" and control of all, or a portion of the copyrights.

There are two types of licenses: Exclusive and Non Exclusive.

Exclusive means that only the owner of the license can exercise the transferred rights. The original owner of the copyright no longer has any control or say in the transferred rights.

Non Exclusive means that more than one person can exercise the same rights being transferred to the license holder. Usually the original copyright holder retains his copyrights under this type of licensing agreement.

What about commissions? You are an artist. If someone hires you, or "commissions" you to do some work for them, they might buy some or all of the rights in advance and the finished work, though created by you is copyright to them, as they paid you for the rights. It is important to remember that not all commissions involve a transfer of copyrights.

It is also important to remember that if an artist created art while working as an employee of a firm, for that firm, they do not hold the copyrights to that art, their employer does.

Questions To Ask Yourself

When we ask for permission from an artist to use their work, what are we actually doing?

When doesn't the artist own the copyrights?

How is it possible for an artist to display art created while working for someone else, on his/her website?

Can you think of examples of different artists who have transferred or sold some or all of their rights?

Can you think of an example of an artist who does commissions that have not involved a transfer of copyrights?

Can you think of an artist who has done commissions and sold their copyrights to the person/business who commissioned them?
Royalty Free. Does it mean Copyright Free or Public Domain? This is a common misunderstanding among people. Look up the definition and see what you discover!



You may link to this lesson, but please do not copy it and place it on any other website, or claim it as your own.


2005 - 2012 by Cru aka Tori Beveridge All Rights Reserved