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Thread: U.S. Copyright

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    U.S. Copyright

    This is of course, directed to those CiC members in the U.S.A. and/or those familiar with the U.S. Copyright laws.

    I originated this logo:

    U.S. Copyright

    Knowing that there might be some problems, I initiated a U.S. Copyright for the logo with the U.S. Library of Congress, Copyright Office: Copyright case # 1-975217301 Title: Maltese Rescue...

    Is it legal for another person to just switch dogs and use this logo?

  2. #2
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    When cases like this go to court, they are usually submitted to a jury, who decides if the second piece is original enough to avoid infringing the copyright. If they just changed the dog, I doubt that would count, but the jury has the final say.

  3. #3
    MajaMolly's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    This is from copyright.gov

    How much do I have to change in order to claim copyright in someone else's work?
    Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent. See Circular 14, Copyright Registration for Derivative Works.

  4. #4

    Re: U.S. Copyright

    +1 to what Molly said. Taking your image and changing the dog would be an infringement as it would be a derivative work. However, if they came up with the same idea on their own it wouldn't be infringement. Intent can be a major factor in determining copyright infringement.

    If you are seeking to protect a logo you would be better off registering it as a Trademark, rather than relying on Copyright. When you have a registered Trademark it doesn't matter if the copied your design or came up with it on their own. You would be the only organisation (within your marketplace) able to use that logo (or one similar too it).

  5. #5
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    Richard - If I took your image and Photoshopped the image of a different dog in or changed the title, you could likely go after me for copyright infrningement as what I did would be a derivative work. All that copyright does is to protect that specific image.

    If I built the same image from scratch, with my own heart-shape and image of a dog and I put in my own type, you would have more of a fight on your hand as I would have created an orignal work and I if I registered a copyright on it, I would be in the same legal position as you. You might be able to suggest I "stole" your idea; but one cannot copyright ideas. The lawyers might make some money, but I'm not sure if anything would be resolved. This would much like you and I standing side by side taking a picture of the same subject with a similar composition; we would own the respective copyrights on the images, even though they might lokk pretty well identical at first blush.

    I think Dan is right, and registering a trademark would be the way to protect your work, because that would cover the "look and feel" aspect that you are likely looking for as a trademark / logo that is a knock-off of your work would be illegal, even if I created it the way I suggested in the second paragraph. I suspect that the downside of that route is that you would have to do a trademark search to prove that you are not infringing on someone else's trademark. For instance, if you used an Apple rather than a heart or the prefix "i" somewhere in it, I suspect you would have Apple's lawyers all over you for trademark infringement.

  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    Link has additional link to copyright and trademark websites.

    http://www.danheller.com/model-release-copyrights.html

  7. #7
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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    Here is a good link to The Copy Wright guys a good video and a great place to start to understand copyright.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ8TzCv1dfs

  8. #8

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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    This is really a hard subject to get a handle on because things are still evolving and more importantly, is entirely based on opinions of the local court because there has not been enough precedence set on enough particular examples. Google 'photograph copy write' and you'll find all sorts of information. The most important thing to notice is how many decisions are reversed by another court. One case was taken to court only because that same court failed to explain their decision then ruled the exact opposite in the second case. Another to show how ridiculous this can get is one in which they attemp to decide who owns a photograph. The photographer camera owner or the ape that pressed the button. Too funny. How the hell are the rest of us to know what's legal beyond outright theft and use of an unaltered image.

    One of the most controversial is a painter who in his collage/painting used a number photographs stolen from a photographers site. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...93O15E20130425 All he did was "transform" the other artists results. Figure that one out. Copy write lawyers insist this is outright theft but the court disagreed. Here it shows that under 'artistic license' you can rip off just about anyone. Does anyone else find it odd that it was the artists who started these whole copy write arguments in the first place are now the ones justifying it for their own purposes?

    It basically comes down to whether or not you have enough money to put towards court cases you have about zero chance of getting compensated for. Also note that the supreme court can decide on which cases they will grant to be heard. Less than 1% of photography copy write challenges are granted an audience at that level.

  9. #9
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: U.S. Copyright

    Actually, just applying for the copyright and getting the number from the Library of Congress, Copyright Office solved the problem. I sent them a cease and desist letter, advising that any use of my logo would be an infringement of my copyright. They have stopped using my logo in any form whatsoever in either hard copy or on the internet. This is a moral victory for me since there were no financial considerations regarding this matter...

  10. #10

    Re: U.S. Copyright

    Don't want t be pedantic but people will find much more useful/accurate information if they search using the correct term, copyright (as in a right to copy). The term copy write relates to writing copy for advertising or marketing purposes and is less likely to bring up useful results.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew1 View Post
    This is really a hard subject to get a handle on because things are still evolving and more importantly, is entirely based on opinions of the local court because there has not been enough precedence set on enough particular examples. .....

    One of the most controversial is a painter who in his collage/painting used a number photographs stolen from a photographers site. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...93O15E20130425 All he did was "transform" the other artists results. Figure that one out. Copy write lawyers insist this is outright theft but the court disagreed.
    It is easy to find extreme examples that fall outside the norm of almost any law, however they are exceptions and not the rule. The vast majority of copyright related issues are related to simple cases of people using an image without permission and case law for these situations is very well established. As Richard has just found out many such cases can be settled by simply sending a cease and desist or an offer to settle out of court in exchange for the infringer paying a license fee. In the US have a "big stick" in the form of a registered copyright (which allows for the award of substantial statutory damages) makes getting such a settlement much easier.

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