December 19, 2010
When your art is used WITHOUT your permission and HOW to take action.
Yes, copyright might be obvious for you but everyone doesn’t know or care about it. What if you one day find your art being used without your permission and how can You take action against it?
This happens everyday, even if you don’t have a clue about it. People nowadays think they can take everything they find on the net, make it their own and take it for granted that they can do what ever they like to do with it.
What is copyright and how can it protect your work?
Copyright is a protection which covers both published and unpublished literary, scientific and artistic works. This doesn’t matter which form of expression it is, if you can hear it, see it or/and touch it – it may be protected, provided such work are fixed in a tangible or material form. Which means if it is for example a photograph, song or an essay that can be set on a paper, saved to a hard drive, it may be protected. The creator of the artwork is granted by the copyright laws that they have exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform and display the work publicly. This means that only the creator have this exclusivity and not anybody who has the access to it and decides to grab it.
When does the protection begin?
The copyright protection begins when any of the described work above is actually created and fixed in a tangible form.
“For example, let’s say that someone dabbles in music and lives in the United States. When he/she writes new lyrics, he/she prints them out on paper, signs his/her name at the bottom with the Copyright © symbol to show that he/she is the author. Copyright begins at the moment the lyrics are printed out on paper, or fixed in a tangible form. Further proof can be created by putting the lyrics in an envelope and mailing it as the postmark can establish the date of creation. It is then advisable to register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office as needed in order to be able to sue for monetary damages should a violation of copyright occur. However, if somebody else copies and redistributes those lyrics without permission before the copyright is registered, the true author would still be able to assert a copyright claim if necessary.
The above applies to digital art and graphics. Open a gif, jpg or png file that you created and look at the properties. It states the date that you saved it to your hard drive as the date of creation. For better protection, back up everything on a cd or disk and put it in a safe place.
Somebody once asked if it was “illegal” to place the copyright © symbol next to your name if you have not registered your copyright. Unless you are not the true author of the work, it is not illegal to place the copyright © symbol next to your name – it is your right to do so.
The proper way to place a copyright notice is as follows: Copyright © (first date of creation) (name of owner). Like this: Copyright © 2010 John Smith.”
When does the copyright end, or expire?
“If a copyright statement reads, “© Copyright 1998, 1999 John Smith.” does that mean that John Smith’s copyright expired in 1999? The dates that you see in a copyright statement do not refer to the dates that the owner’s material will expire and become public domain – they actually refer to the dates that the material was created and/or modified.”
To read more about the copyright protection, please visit: http://www.whatiscopyright.org/
How do I personally take action?
First of all, I do not take for granted that everyone knows about this copyright protection, because if you’re not an artist you might not understand this immediately. I’m sure if you don’t create art and haven’t had anything stolen from you, you probably not understand fully what the artist goes through. Regardless, it IS important to know and respect copyright, whenever you’re a photographer, journalist, teacher, student etc.
When I find my work being used without my asked permission I simply write and asking them to remove it, explaining it is my art they’ve used and that it is copyrighted. I don’t really care if they’ve credited me in their description, they’ve used my work without asking me and that is disrespectful enough. A lot of this people think it is flattering for me, and other artists, that they want to use them. This irritates me very much. Why would ever someone be flattered when their work is more or less stolen and used in a way they’re can’t accept? I will never understand this argument.
BUT, if they do not remove the work from the site, report it. Mostly people like to steal work on Deviantart and it is quite simply to report the deviation there. All that you have to include is why you’re reporting it and a link back to the original artwork. Though, sometimes you need to send them a model release.
Other times it goes even further and the most talked about case would probably be the one with the British photographer Lara Jade. Her photo was used on a cover for a pornographic movie. You can read about it here:
Please help other artists and tell them if you see their work being used somewhere.