Question about copywright laws on images

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Hecubus114, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. Hecubus114

    Hecubus114 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    I have a replica of a painting seen on a TV show. The painting was re-painted, by hand, by me. There is currently no licensed reproduction of this painting for sale, nor has there ever been. My question is: If I make prints of my repro, and sell them, will I be infringing on any laws? Isnt it the same as people who make replica lightsaber hilts of characters who arent made by any licensed company? I just want to be sure before I try anything, its definately not worth getting in trouble over.
  2. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    Well, not knowing the copyright laws to a tee, I would say that any painting you have painted yourself is your own property, no matter what the subject matter is, and that you have full copyright over it and can do with it as you please.

    I could be wrong though and the laws could be more complicated than I know of.

    Just don't try to pass it off as an original. :p
  3. exoray

    exoray Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    Yes, the picture you copied is just that an unlicensed copy... Technically you have some limited rights to the creation because you did paint it, but the original artist of the original works rights overide your rights...

    I guess... But, it doesn't make in any more legal or illegal...
  4. mtsbspidey

    mtsbspidey Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    or i would assume it might be considered the same as the reproduction paintings you can buy at those art show/sales at hotels and convention centers....not knowing the law...just drawing a comparison....skott
  5. TK172

    TK172 New Member

    Trophy Points:
    I would also like to add that as long as you do not use your creation to advertise a product you will be left alone.

  6. phase pistol

    phase pistol Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    The concepts of "fair use" and "public domain" are rapidly being destroyed by aggressive U.S. "intellectual property" lawyers. :(

    Throughout history, "copying" of art has been tolerated, and even respected. For one thing, it's how you learn. Second, there's the issue of inspiration: the freedom to do a new original work "inspired by" a preexisting work. And there are still other factors like parody and hommage.

    Of course today, if you make an image of any kind, the legal channels are there to "protect" it and suppress anyone who copies it, or makes a similar image, or "quotes" your image in their own work. This gets particularly egregious in the case of "objects which cannot be photographed", or "images that cannot be reproduced", such as public art works displayed outdoors, or company logos.

    Of course as an artist myself, you might think I would support the current trend toward "ownership". But in fact I do not. The benefits to society of an open and free exchange of ideas, far outweigh anyone's hypothetical power of "ownership" of those ideas (which is a ludicrous notion).

    So back to the original question: can you sell copies you yourself made of somebody else's painting? Sure. Will you get in trouble? Quite probably. :lol

    - k
  7. Hecubus114

    Hecubus114 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    Well thats just the thing, I would not be trying to pass this image off as my own - I would still give full and complete credit to the original artsist. It is an item that I know many people would like to have, but there is no place to get it. And anyone who would want it would surely know its origin and that I simply copied it. Those copies of famous paintings are only allowed (I'm pretty sure) because the pictures are so old, any kind of copywright they did have would be out by now.

    Its a toughie - and I'm surely not trying to justify something illegal. I'm just not clear if it IS illegal. And again, I'm not trying to take creditr for
    someone else's work, it is, in fact, a tribute to their work.

    I guess what it will really come down to is if the original artist cares or not.
  8. RedTwoX

    RedTwoX Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    The only thing dependant on that is whether or not you get punished for it. That doesn't change the fact that you are selling copies of someone elses intelectual property. If you don't have a license, then you do not have the right to profit from someone else's intellectual property. You may get by with out being punished for it, just the like the guys who sell copies of lightsabers seen on screen with out an LFL licens, but it isn't legal.

    I'm pretty sure they can't kick in your door and take the copy you made for yourself. However, you don't have the right to sell it... not even at cost. Someone else created the image and it is their intellectual property. It's like buying a CD, burning copies, and selling them. Just because you paid for an original, invested money in a burner and CD-R's, and spent your own time to make copies, does not give you right to sell those copies. You bought the CD, not the rights to the music on it. You invested your time, money, and talent into copying a work, and you own the copy, but not the rights to the intellectual property that would allow you sell or distribute the copies you make. The fact that there is no other licensed copies is irrelevant. You won't be taking business away from anyone, but the business that may be out there isn't yours to take either.

    I will add that I am not a lawyer. That is just my current understanding. I have had a good deal of exposure to this type of thing as I work for a company that aggressively protects it's trademarked and copyrighted material. I understand that this does not make me an expert by any stretch.

    If it weren't folks violating copyright and intellectual property, the vast majority of the replica props out here wouldn't exist. No one would own Stormtrooper armor of any type (except the few with the money and connections to buy screen-used). The only helmets out there would be Don Post, Rubies, and Altman's (Am I missing one or two?). Screen used props are rare and expensive. Not everyone has the talent to replicate there own, and those that do don't always have the time. There is always going to be a (black) market for these unlicensed replicas. Everybody (including the movie/TV studios and their legal departments) knows it.

    If you want to do the right thing, then contact the copyright holder and buy a license or don't sell copies. If you are dead set on selling copies, then don't get caught.
  9. Probe Droid

    Probe Droid Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    If you didn't originally create it (your hand-made copies don't count as the original creation), you can't legally reproduce it unless it's in public domain. Beginning, middle, end of story. Just because there's no licensed replicas for sale doesn't make it fair game. Making one one the sly only for yourself is one thing (who'll know?), make multiples to sell...have a nice time in court. You're stealing.
  10. Hecubus114

    Hecubus114 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    Ok, please dont tell me I'm stealing, because I havent done anything yet, for exactly that reason. I came here for information on the subject, as to not infringe on any rules/laws. Thank you guys for the input, I'm not looking to undermine anyone or anything, and your opinions have helped me greatly.
  11. gnrlotto

    gnrlotto Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    This sounds like the same argument used by people who wish Mickey Mouse was in the Public Domain...
  12. CaptCBoard

    CaptCBoard Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    The question of copyright in this case depends on a couple of things. First, the era the TV show was first broadcast is important as that will establish which version of copyright law is applicable. I don't know exactly at what time it occurred, but the law was changed such that anything that was covered before is only covered by the law that existed at the time of first broadcast. The result of this is anything covered after that point is automatically covered very well and everything before that is not, unless the copyright was/is actively pursued. This is why so many low budget films became Public Domain-- the copyright simply ran out and no one bothered to renew it.

    To the question of this painting-- If the original was done for a TV show that is not covered by the new copyright laws, chances are it is now PD. Even if the show itself is currently covered by copyright, the painting probably is not. This is due to the way films/TV shows are protected. The protection is written to cover rebroadcast, duplication and distribution. But, the chance the painting itself was ever copyrighted is rather remote. It is important to note that unless a prop is specifically protected by its own copyright, just appearing in a film or a TV show does not provide protection. This is why Lucas protects all the designs with both copyright for the 'form' and trademark for the 'name'. In fact, 1977 is the year everyone points to as to when such protection became important.

    As far as making copies of any painting is concerned, there are two views to be aware of. First, artwork is considered property and it has a specific owner and as such is protected by copyright laws. If the subject is owned by a public institution, then it is PD. If it is sold by the public institution and it passes into private hands, the new owner controls copyright. Works of art held publicly can be legally copied at will providing the museum allows people to make photos or even set up a canvas and create a copy right in the musuem.

    Second, and the most bizarre, is what is called 'work for hire'. A person can hire someone to make a copy of anything and it is considered to be a single duplication, but it is the labor that is being paid for, not the item made by the labor. Because this is a violation of copyright, the only action that can be taken is the issuing of a Cease and Desist Order. Damages can not be sought because only one item was made and as such the duplicate would have no impact on the copyright. The interesting part is each contract for this 'work for hire' is a completely separate incident, so you could make 100 copies of something as long as you do not have overlapping contracts. Once someone can establish copies are being made at the same time for more than one client, the 'work for hire' exception will be thrown out the window.

    Lastly, using a copyrighted title to promote the sale of such a duplicate would definitely be a violation.

    Because the specific painting was never referenced, I can't comment any further. If copies of this painting were promoted only within the confines of this forum, I doubt there would be any repercussions. Its the same thing as making T-shirts with the Dharma Initiative logo and selling them. They are not licensed, but then again they are not being sold by the thousands. Fan made for other fans and if this painting is from an old TV show, no one is going to care.

  13. Too Much Garlic

    Too Much Garlic Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    That analogy is nothing like what is asked. A better analogy would be for him to buy a cd, then record himself playing the instruments and singing the lyrics and then burn it onto a cd. All can agree that it is NOT a direct copy from the original, but instead an interpretation of the original... however good that may sound. :lol

    However, that being said. Small scale would probably be okay, overlooked by the copyright holder or the LAW even, but large scale sale would probably be hunted and killed for its insolense. :p
  14. RedTwoX

    RedTwoX Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    I wouldn't say that my anology is "nothing" like the question asked, but readily admit that yours is better. However, it really doesn't change anything. He still does have the right to sell or distribute re-recordings of someone else's music. The reproduction method (a direct burn from the CD or a recording of a performance) does nothing to change that. Doing a cover tune during your set isn't likely to get you in trouble (especially if you make it very clear you are covering someone else's work), but when you record it and try to sell it... you need to have the copyright holders permission first.
  15. Aegis159

    Aegis159 Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    Do you all not remember Warhol??? This was a HUGE part of his art and his message....

    As others have said, this practice has been going on for forever... hell in several painting classes in college they had us copy works to learn techniques. Hehehe, I couldn't tell you how many copies of the impressionists I did....

Share This Page