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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Copyright Question
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 5, (reverse)
01/16/2011 04:46:49 PM · #1
Hi All,

I have a question......

I have been looking into drawing vector graphics.......which involves tracing a photograph to make a vector image ( a simplified version of the picture in terms of compostion and colour - kinda cartoon like)

Question is - if you use someone els's image to do this - can you then go on and sell that as your own ? As its your version?

Say for instance - the famous che guevara image - if you drew your own that was based on the initial picture - like many people have done and put it on t-shirts - is that legal to do int he UK ?

I ask as I have a commission but dont want to get my ass sued off when my client puts it on t shirts etc!

Thanks all

01/16/2011 05:04:17 PM · #2
A lot depends on how much money the picture owner has... Yep they can sue you.. If the pix is copywritten legally via sending it in to obtain a leagal (ok this is in the USA) copyright then your toast.. However according to the copyright laws, every origional piece of art work is a copyright of the owner... So even if it isn't legally copywritten and the owner wants to make an issue then you could spend a lot of money .... I use to own a leather manufacturing plant, We had an item that was similar to another companys item, changed WAY over the 10% issue you hear about... but long story short.. They had more legal funds than my company had and I was the one to cease and desist the manufacturing of that item... I would err on the side of caution and for sure get the premission, BUT... Ya can ask a copyright lawyer for a couple of hundred and probaly get better advice!!
01/16/2011 05:15:23 PM · #3
It would most likely be considered a derivative work and be protected. Your best bet would be to contact an IP lawyer.
02/14/2011 04:07:51 PM · #4
I would suggest using only specifically labeled Creative Commons images for this sort of work. More info here: creativecommons.org

Creative Direcor
02/14/2011 06:22:22 PM · #5
Originally posted by alohadave:

It would most likely be considered a derivative work and be protected. Your best bet would be to contact an IP lawyer.

This sounds exactly like the situation involved in the famous "Obama Campaign Poster" case, where someone created an illustration directly based on a copyrighted photograph.

You may or may not need an IP attorney, but before embarking on this as a long-term project, I would definitely recommend some legal research first. Here are some possibly useful links (for US residents -- UK laws are likely similar but not identical):

US Copyright Office
Photographer's Right..........................}
Legal Handbook for Photographers}both of these by an IP attorney
Nolo Press (all kinds of legal/business books for the non-lawyer)

"Derivative work" and "fair use" are the two areas most likely to apply to this situation. This is a situation where you may legally make the new work, but be restricted in your use. For example, you could certainly post it as part of an article on "how to convert a photo to a vector" ("educational fair use"), and you could probably sell individual "fine art prints" in frames, but you probably could not post them as stock images or print them in bulk (postcards, T-shirts, calendars, etc.).

Using Creative Commons licensed or public domain images is a good idea ... or maybe you can take your own "version" of the photo and illustrate that.
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