Art, Photos, Images

Original art, photographs, images, drawings, illustrations, and so forth are all works fully protected by copyright as soon as they are fixed/created.  Like other types of copyrighted works, publication, registration and/or a copyright notice is not required for works created after 1989.

The particular characteristics of photographs and other similarly situated artwork present their own unique challenges with respect to copyright law, derivative works, transformative uses, and application of fair use.  For example, what constitutes "publication?"  Can you register an unpublished photo?  What is a derivative work and is it infringing?  Is it ever legal to start with someone else's copyrighted photo/image/art and alter 'enough' of it to make it your 'own' work? Does a copyright arise if an exact photo is taken of a public domain artwork?  When is a work so "substantially similar" to a previous work as to be infringing?  Can two people take the same picture of a publicly accessible view or building?  What are scenes a faire?  Is it an infringement of a building's architecture to take a photograph of it?  What is a 'fair use' of a photo?

You can find answers to these questions as well as other helpful information in the following resources:

•  Copyright/Copywrong A Study of Copyright Law by the Picture Archive Council of America

This ppt presentation is a very good walk-through of basic copyright law specifically tailored to photographs and images.  It includes a discussion of 'substantial similarity' with examples, including visuals, of specific court decisions.

•  The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has a very good copyright guide, licensing guideFAQ on copyright law, and definition of published and unpublished.

•  When Is An Image A Derivative Work?

“Whenever you take an existing image and modify it to create a different image, you are making a "derivative work." For example, you might composite several images in the darkroom, or you might use Photoshop’s tools to distort a digital photo. Another kind of derivative is the compilation, such as a coffee-table book. In law, it does not matter whether the change is great or small, or whether the result is recognizably like the original; what matters is whether your creative process began with an existing image.”

•  Scenes a Faire:  Principle in copyright law in which certain elements of a creative work are held to be not protected when they are mandated by or customary to the genre.  Wikipedia

•  Pros and Cons of Registering Your Art

•  While the appearance of objects in the public domain or as they occur in nature is not protected by copyright, (Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 13:03[B][2][b] (1999)), building designs after December 1, 1990 are protected.  The Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), formerly known as PACA, offers a Special Releases list "of properties and objects that may cause problems if shown photographically" although it appears to have been last updated in 2004

•  Fair Use: Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in the Visual Arts

This Code, developed in the past few years, presents five practices/principles intended to reflect shared respected practices.  Of particular relevance for teaching are principles No. 2 Teaching About Art and No. 3 Making Art.

•  Fair Use or Infringement from the Graphic Artists Guild

•  Images Available For Use (either public domain or no restrictions)

     - Public Domain Images

     - Google Advanced Image Search [define 'usage rights]

     - Flickr Commons

     - Pixabay

     - openclipart

     - Free Clip Art and Image Digest