11 April 2009

Copyright Concerns

So, since I've gotten back into collage I got to thinking about that pesky, irritating and potentially inspiration-killing issue of copyright. Copyright infringement to be precise. I hadn't been too worried about the issue as a whole until I visited this page about copyright myths and learned some interesting facts. Most of my collages tend to center around ancient art, sculptures, mosaics and the like. But plenty, plenty, oh plenty of my images come from magazines like National Geographic, etc. And while I don't ever intend to sell my collages I do worry since I've recently discovered that simply by making a collage that incorporates the copyrighted images of others I am technically breaking the law. That's right, even if I have no intention to sell, duplicate, distribute or ever show it to anyone the mere fact that my collage has the copyrighted images of others in it means I am breaking copyright law. And since I've started to post some of them on this here blog I've gotten to worrying a bit.

Now, I seriously, very, very seriously doubt that any published and professional artist would care all that much about my little collages. I'm just one amateur crafty witch whose "works" or "pieces" will probably only ever been seen by a mere handful of people. But I am going to start making a concerted effort to use more of my own photographs as well as ancient images. I'll especially try to veer closer to photos of ancient mosaics and other 2 dimensional pieces as I've also recently learned that photos of statues can be considered creative and thus covered by copyright law as issues of position and lighting must be considered by the individual photographer.

And I've found mention of various free sources of images that fall into the category of creative commons so I guess I need to look into that. Needless to say, this puts a big kink in my collage plans but I'm not going to let that stop me. I just need to rethink my collage process and maybe ditch all those magazine clippings I've spent hours cutting out and organizing. This also means I've got to obtain some more printer ink and hope, no pray, that my printer can produce decent, collage-worthy images.


Nettle said...

It's only copyright infringement if you use something without permission - get written (or emailed) permission, and you're good to go. For something from a magazine published by a big media conglomerate, that might be hard to do (they always want to charge $$$ for licensing), but for small presses, a polite email outlining your use and requesting permission will often get a positive answer.

Do you know about the creative commons search option in Flickr? Under the advanced search tab, you can search by license - still means you have to print it out yourself, of course, but it keeps things legal and there are huge numbers of images there.

There is a handy flowchart here: http://www.brombergsunstein.com/practices/copyright-portfolio-development/flowchart.htm
to help find what is in the public domain. If it's PD, you can do what you like with it.

(disclaimer: copyright is a big part of what I do for a living but I am not a lawyer and can't give legal advice.)

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Livia-- check out Googleimages.com.
Simple, easy, familiar. VAST.
Images that are copyrighted are not downloadable. Does that mean all the ones that are, are open for use?
I dunno there, but seems safe.

Good research.

And, we wanna see!!!

Livia Indica said...

Hey Nettle. Yeah, I'm worried about copyright infringement as I'd read that the only way to be really, firmly sure is to go with legal documents, as in going through a lawyer. And there's no way in hell I am willing/able to go through that kind of thing.

I'll be sure to check out that link, thanks.

Cygnus, I'll have to go there and see. I've found stuff through Creative Commons and Flickr has a free to use section as well.

Course, wouldn't you know it, I put color ink for my printer in the cart and somehow didn't make it home with it. Well, at least they didn't charge me the lousy 30 bucks. So I'm stymied. I guess I can print out some black/white images...

aprilmarches said...

What about fair use? Since your artwork is noncommercial and doesn't alter the market value of the original pieces, I'd think your work would qualify.

Livia Indica said...

Nope. According to this article at: http://www.funnystrange.com/copyright/fairuse.htm, fair use is one of most common myths that has little basis in fact.

aprilmarches said...

I remain largely unconvinced, but since the way to make a legal point in this arena is to get sued and win, I can see why you don't want to be the test case! I bump up against fair use a lot for work, and this crap gets complicated quickly.

Livia Indica said...

"this crap gets complicated quickly"...oh yeah! That seems to be the overwhelming conclusion I've drawn about it.