Mar 24, 2013

The Myths of Copyrights!

This is an original wood pen holded designed by Sharon Teal Coray

Recently I heard of another incident of copyright infringement pertaining to cutting wood cut-outs. Having been an artist for over 30 years I have run across the most amazing things being done to artists, as well as things artists do to each other, and about companies who seem to have no ethics.

With everyone trying to get to the top there are so many out there that will do anything to reach the top of the ladder, climbing over others to get there is one option. Ethics often get overlooked.

Not only companies but artists are guilty of copyright infringement. How many times have you seen something that looked like someone else’s work? Some artists think they are fooling the designers and artists who do the originals but they are not, we all recognize our own work!

In a perfect world we would have artists that respect the rights of all artists and creative people worldwide. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where people will do just about anything to make a buck.

One of the infringements I hear of a lot about are the people who cut wood for the decorative artists. It has been said that they are cutting wood patterns they have no rights to cut.

For years these same people have been telling the Decorative art designers that they “could not copyright their wood designs” .

The problem is that most artists believed this myth.

Artists, engineers, architects and other creators have copyright in their drawings under U.S. copyright laws. This not only includes fine arts, but it covers drawings of designs, maps, blueprints and diagrams. The minute the artist has finished a drawing in any medium the artist as the creator of this has copyright.

That means if you want to used that drawing for something like cutting patterns of it out of wood you need to get permission from the copyright holder. You can ask for permission to use it, or you can get a full ownership of the drawing through a copyright transfer. The owner may give this to you or charge you for it.

Copyright can be a confusing for many people. Because the circumstances surrounding copyright can be varied artists will rely on myths or rumors instead of finding out the truth.

Under most national laws and international copyright treaties you obtain a copyright automatically in any original work as you make it. Registration may be required to implement some rights, like beginning a lawsuit. Copyright does NOT protect ideas. Copyright protects the expression of ideas or the ways in which an idea is essentially placed or expressed in the work.

What is Copyright Infringement?

To make this simpler, copyright infringement occurs when you do particular things with a creative work which someone else produced without first getting the appropriate permission.

Here are some examples of copyright infringement and it is not a complete listing by all means:

Using someone else’s photo as reference for your painting.

Cutting someone’s wood design with out permission. Woodcutters, you need permission to do this. Designers you have the right to stop this practice!

Adapting someone else's creative work

Modifying or editing a creative work without proper permission is copyright infringement.

You cannot use a small portion of someone else’s work, it's still considered to be protected by copyright and you still need the owner's permission for use.

Just because you give credit to someone’s work that you have copied does not mean you can copy it. You still need permission.

Changing things in the original like the colors used, or reversing the images or adding things making a few alterations if it's recognizable it's still considered copyrighted and you still need permission.

If I copy someone else’s work and take id down from the Internet or stop selling I will not get in trouble…wrong! You may still be responsible for very significant damages if the copyright owner decides to sue you. Nowadays’ lawyers will work for you for not retainer so it is not expensive to sue and if you have copied you can end up paying a lot for that act.

Things to consider if you are going to copy someone’s work:

Do not assume that the work is unprotected simply because you cannot see a notice written anywhere. A work is not required by law to have a copyright statement printed on it or near it in order to be considered copyrighted.

Never confuse the fact that just because a work is publicly available and in the public domain that is free for use.

Just because you are not selling the copy you still need permission to paint it. It’s still considered copyrighted.

Then we have the “Fair Use” problem!

"Fair Use" is the perception that some public and private uses of copyrighted works should not necessitate the permission of a copyright owner. Because this issue is very complex you need to talk to a lawyer who specializes in copyrights if you want to know more about fair use as it applies to the work you are doing. If it turns out that it isn't fair use, you may be liable for very serious money damages.

So what should you do?

The best way to evade infringing on the rights of another creative person is to use your talent, skill and imagination to create your own entirely original work.

Now you must remember this; original does not mean that you cannot paint an “idea” that has been painted before because ideas cannot be copyrighted.

"Original" means that you created your work without referencing or purposely copying anyone else's work during the process


Copyright is the legal right which an author or artist holds in her original creative works, such as a drawing. Copyright includes the right to reproduce, print or publish the work; to make derivative, sequel or related works from it. An artist holds the copyright on a drawing from the minute it is fixed in a tangible medium. To protect that copyright, however, you will have to register it.

So how do you copyright your work?

With the explosion of the Internet, your sketches and drawing can literally circle the globe in hours. It is important that you register and protect your copyrights as soon as possible after you create them. Your sketches and drawings are classified as "Visual Arts". According to the US Copyright Office Library of Congress.

Registering Online
This is taken from From LegalZoom

Step 1

Review a U.S. Copyright Office brochure titled "Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts."

Step 2

Visit the U.S. Copyright Office website. Click on a link titled "Electronic Copyright Office." On the next page, click on a link titled "eCO Tutorial." Read the tutorial to learn each step in the online copyright application process.

Step 3

Return to the home page of the U.S. Copyright Office website. Click on a link titled, "eCO Log." Follow the interactive screens' directives to set up your online copyright application account. You will be charged an application fee, $35 at the time of publication.

Step 4

Print out a shipping slip for a copy of your drawing that you will be sending by postal mail to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Step 5

Make a photocopy of your drawing that will be linked with your electronic application. The photocopy colors should match those in the drawing. If your drawing is unpublished, prepare one photocopy. If your drawing is published, make two copies. The Copyright Office prefers that the copies of your drawing display its entire content in an 8-inch by 10-inch format.

Step 6

Fill out the shipping slip and attach it to the packaged photocopy of your drawing. Send the photocopy of your drawing to the Copyright Office address shown on the shipping slip within 30 days after registering the drawing's copyright online. Place the photocopy and the shipping slip in a box instead of an envelope to insure that the photocopy survives the current mail security irradiation process.

Step 7

Contact the Copyright Office if you do not receive your drawing's certificate of registration within three months.

How to Use Drawings That Are Copyrighted

This is taken from From LegalZoom

Step 1

Find out who owns the copyright. The copyright holder may be the person who created the drawing. Or, if the drawing was created as a work for hire, a third party may own the copyright. If you need help finding out who the owner is, you can contact the U.S. Copyright Office to conduct a search for you, or conduct your own search on the copyright office’s website or in person at the copyright office.

Step 2

Contact the copyright holder. You can call the owner directly for an initial discussion about using the copyrighted drawings. Follow up with a letter containing specific information about what you want to use and how you want to use it. You may want to include samples of your use of the drawing, if appropriate.

Step 3

Ask permission to use the drawing for free. If the copyright holder declines, then you can either negotiate a license to use, but not own, the drawing, or you could negotiate for transfer of ownership. Your arrangement should be in writing. Make sure the terms are fair and that you have all rights necessary to use the drawing as you plan.

Step 4

Negotiate the details of your deal. If you're getting a transfer agreement, it should clearly specify that ownership of the copyright will transfer to you. On the other hand, if you make a license agreement, it can be exclusive or nonexclusive. It should identify specifically the legal names of both parties; the drawing that is being licensed; the duration of the license; and the specific rights being granted (and not granted) with the copyright. Your agreement should also specify the process for termination, payment terms and the consequences for breaching the agreement. Both parties must sign the agreement. You may need a lawyer to draft or negotiate the license or transfer agreement for you.

Step 5

Record your transfer or license agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Recording is not required, but it can put others on notice about your arrangement. The copyright office does not have a form for copyright transfer, but you can file a signed copy of the agreement and a signed, sworn statement of authenticity.

I am not a lawyer or copyright expert U.S.
This article is for general information only and is not intended to be any form of legal advice. To answer specific legal questions, consult your legal professional.

For more info go to:

No comments:

New Free Pattern Blog

New Free Pattern Blog
Sharon Teal Coray has a new blog offering free patterns! Updated often! Check it out!