In the fast paced world of technology and sharing, are people forgetting what a copyright is and why it exists? The more our business grows and the more exposure we get online, the more we are dealing with copyright issues. We are two weeks into June and we’ve had three issues that we have had to deal with; all of the individuals were cooperative and we are thankful for that. However it’s disturbing to know that people are forgetting or disregarding the fact that another person spent time creating that work that they are sharing. Is it because of the easy access to digital versions? Have we lost the human factor on how things are created? Or is it much worse, a lack of caring? So, this article is about the Copyright Law in plain English to help refresh people’s minds or give an easy to understand definition for those that are unsure about the law.
What is a Copyright?
“Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” US Copyright
In plain English…having a copyright means that the artist of any type of creative work is protected by law in the United States against fraudulent reproduction of the work.
Works of authorship include the following categories:
- literary works;
- musical works, including any accompanying words;
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
- pantomimes and choreographic works;
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- sound recordings; and
- architectural works. US Copyright
We all have a creative side, some people however are more in tuned to it than others; enough so to make a career out of their creativity; the operative word is career…meaning they get paid for their work. Artists take time away from their families to create; just like other people taking time away from their own families to go to work every day to collect a pay check. Being an artist (as laid back and cool as it sounds) is still a job; it’s just a job driven by passion for creativity. Just like you, artists need to eat, have bills to pay and have wants in life too. When an artist’s work is reproduced without their knowledge it is essentially taking food off of the artist’s table. It’s the equivalent to going to work every day but you’re working for that business for free.
Take for example writer Ernest Hemingway; he would spend months at a time away from his family to write his novels in solitude to entertain his readers. Even though his novels are essentially words on paper (the same words used by you every day) he is known for the way he strung the words together to create a captivating story. Song writers and musicians spends hours compiling musical notes and words together that flow beautifully then more time practicing it. Photographers spend hours, months and even years perfecting their eye and enhancing their technical skills…the same for painters, pencil artist and so on.
Do you think any of them would like to see someone else getting credit or making money off of their hard work without getting compensated for it? Or lets put it this way, would you like to hear of a coworker getting credit for a project you preformed at work?
Sharing Copyrighted Work
The internet is buzzing with creative work. Photographers are posting hundreds, maybe even thousands of photographs a day online. Writers are sharing snippets of novels or poetry to peak your interest in the full book or story. Musicians and producers are uploading audio and video files. Artists do this because they love what they do and they want to share their creations with the world, with you their audience. Having others appreciate our work and share it with their friends and family is a great honor and it helps our audience grow. It lets us know that the time away from our families is enriching someone life. However, it’s recommended that if you’re sharing work created by another person to give credit to the artist and if possible use a link to where you saw the piece. With all of the social media share buttons now days it’s really simple to add the links of your favorite pieces of artwork to your social media feeds.
Manipulation of a Copyrighted Piece Artwork
In this digital era it’s easy to save or download versions of a photograph or piece of artwork; even audio and video footage. On our own profile pages and blog we share small versions of our nature and landscape photographs daily for people to enjoy. We don’t add watermarks because it is a distraction to the subject in the photograph. I can’t speak for all artists but we are honored that another creative person sees something more with our work and wants to expand on it. However, using the work of another individual without their consent or giving an acknowledgement to the original artist is copyright infringement…especially if you’re adding your own copyright to the new creation. If there is any part of the newly created artwork, photograph, audio or film footage the original artist must be accredited; compensated if the newly created work is being sold. We all remember the Marvin Gaye estate Vs Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copyright law suit. Ultimately, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were found guilty of Copyright Infringement; they had to pay the Marvin Gaye estate 7.3 million dollars.
Copyright laws, when read can make your eyes cross and bore the tears out of you but they are in place to protect the artists. If you are unsure of the laws simply contact the artist directly and ask for permission; I’m sure most would be honored to known that they inspired another person into sharing or creating something new…at the very least give the artist a credit in the caption.
Share with me your thoughts and experiences about this topic, I would really like to know how others deal with copyright issues.
About the Author and Photographer:
Melissa Fague is an emerging nature and landscape photographer from Bear, Delaware USA. In just a few short years her work has been published over two dozen times and she has won multiple national and international awards for her beautiful photographs. Her most recent accomplishment is her first published photograph in an international publication with a worldwide distribution, “Landscape Photography Magazine”. Melissa is passionate about the art of photography and nature. Exploring areas and creating photographs is her form of stress relief and art therapy, but she also loves to share her visions so that others can enjoy. All of Melissa’s nature and landscape photographs are available for purchase, visit Pi Photography and Fine Art.