This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

July 21, 2014

Do you need to be concerned about copyright violation?

Copyright is a hot topic on the internet, and, as usual, it's awash with a lot of misinformation. The reality is that copyright is a very complex topic, and is best left to copyright lawyers. People discussing copyright, back and forth, in a forum on the web doesn't interest me. And that's because most people don't need to be concerned with it. At all.

If you make your living writing, or recording, you need to know about copyright. Part of the cost of doing business for movie studies is having copyright experts on hand. People who write music know about ASCAP. And here is the most important point - if you aren't in the business of re-selling your work, you really don't need to be concerned about someone who has posted one of your photos, or copied some of your blog, on the web. If that photo that you posted on the web of your cute dachshund on *Dachshund Lovers of the World* on Google+ ends up on *We Luv Dachshunds* on Facebook, writing a nasty *cease and desist* order makes no sense. You are just taking up your time, and someone else's, to show that you are a crank. That's not what copyright laws are all about.

If, on the other hand, you see that photo of your dachshund on the label of a national product, you may want to write the company a letter. And no, you don't want them to not use the photo, you want them to pay for a license to use the photo. And now you're in the world of copyright, and licensing.

Here is a license agreement from my brother wildlife illustrator Roger Hall

And so what it really comes down to for ordinary people who are just sharing stuff is to show courtesy. Here is a good rule of thumb - don't take stuff from online newspapers, TV shows, movies, or commercial sites. That great shot of the rose bush on the gardening website is most probably a copyrighted image, that the photographer has licensed for use on that site.

The whole subject of copyright makes so many people nervous, and it really shouldn't. Like I said, if you're a big company, you have copyright experts to handle stuff. I'm not a big company (it's just me) so if you just want to use a cartoon of mine just contact me.

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