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Copyright Issues

Important Legal Concerns

Art CD Copying Brief Definition Details Soapbox More

Appropriating the work of others, can cause lots'o trouble...


Regarding the work you produce in-class:
If you are serious as an artist, you will need to find a way of creating images that is uniquely your own. In fact, creating a unique means of personal expression is one of the goals of this course.

To facilitate the creation of a personal aesthetic, I require that all imported ( scanned ) images be created by the students themselves - photos, slides,drawings or paintings. No scanned images from magazines, or 'royalty-free' images from CD-ROMS will be accepted.

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CD Recorders

Regarding the CD-burners:

A number of the new computers in our lab are equipped with both CD-R and CD-ROM drives. Questions have arisen regarding the usage of these drives for copying other CD's. While it is certainly appropriate for students to make backup copies of their own work, you are not permitted to make copies of software or audio CD's.

Copying licensed software or copyrighted music CD's is illegal. Any student found making such copies, will be immediately expelled from the course.

If you have any questions about this subject, see your instructor.

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Brief Explanation of Copyright

Look over the following phrases:
  • "This image ( recording ) ( article ) copyright © 1999 by So-and-so", or
  • "Copyright © 1998 by So-and-so. This material may not be copied by any means without the prior written consent of the author."

Whenever you see such a phrase, it means that the author of the piece copyrighted the piece officially, by sending in a registration application to the U.S. Copyright Office, or is merely announcing that they legally are the author or creator.

To the user, this means, "hands off !" If you feel you must use it in some way, you must first send a detailed explanation of your intent in a request for permission, to the author.

By the way, you may use the Help system that I, along with Chuck, created for this lab - while you are in the lab. Since we have copyrighted this material, and since I am using some of it for a book I am writing, you may not copy it for any reason, without seeking prior permission from me.

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More about Copyright

The following is reproduced courtesy of Charles Boone, ( we know him as Chuck ), computer art lab director and instructor at College of DuPage.

"With the availability of copy machines, scanners, digital cameras and the like, questions arise regarding the use of appropriated images. While there is much in art history to support the creation of artwork heavily influenced by that of others, generally based on the compositions of others, or even directly altering reproduced work of others, there are legal, ethical, and aesthetic issues that must be addressed.

These all can really be discussed as one issue in many ways because they all are based on the simple criterion of originality. The legal aspect is essentially the realm of copyright law.

"Briefly, a copyright is the legally recognized right of control over the use, display, reproduction, and adaptation of an image or text. The copyright owner is generally the artist upon creation of the work unless the work was created ' for hire ' . The copyright may be sold ( assigned ) or licensed by the holder and should be done in writing unless a non-exclusive license is granted. The holder has the sole right to reproduction and adaptation of a given work.

"Generally, courts operate on a 10 % copyng / alteration scale." In other words, you must change the image by 10 % to be able to use it legally " without repercussion. If using the work for educational, journalistic, or critical purposes, limited reproduction is usually allowed. If using the image as source material for the creation of a new artwork, the subsequent work must be ' substantially different ' from the original or a copyright infringement will have occurred.

"The copyright lasts for the life of the artist plus 50 years or for 75 years if the copyright is on work for hire or by an unknown author. After this the work enters into the public domain and reproduction is allowed. So when importing images as sources to create a work of your own expression, consider the following:

Do you have permission to use the image ? Is the work in the public domain ? Is your resulting image ' substantially different ' from the imported image ? How so ? Can your use of the image be considered criticism ? Lampooning or satire ?

"When in doubt, use your own photographs, drawings. etc. Ethically, whatever you present as art is in fact being presented as your own idea(s). If you rely upon the work of others with few modifications or newly-formed relationships, can you really call it your own ?

Aesthetically, if you simply cut and paste the work of others together, you are simply using someone else's sense of priorities and visual ideas. Can you really call the result, your own personal aesthetic ?

In this class, personal expression is of the utmost importance. If your work does not meet the legal copyright restrictions, it will not be accepted. If your work does not meet the copyright standard, it is in fact plagiarized..."

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What's the Fuss About ?

... Or, "My 2 Bit's Worth"

The following is an excerpt from a book I'm currently writing. Copyright infringement is a subject I feel very strongly about. Anyone is certainly free to disagree, but in this lab at least, they must follow U.S. Copyright statutes...

"Many computer users - Internet users in particular - seem to have difficulty understanding that copyright is a serious issue. Their contention is that "everyone's taking MP3's and pictures off the Net". The ease with which copyrights can be violated online, and the prevalence of this activity, seems to legitimize it in the eyes of many.

A major component in this issue is the facility with which technology allows us to violate another person's copyright. How difficult is it to right-click on a Website image and save it to your hard disk ? Or to make a copy of a CD with a CD burner ?  Some people labor under the wrongful assumption that any behavior, as long as it is relatively easy to do, and is commonplace, is OK.

At issue is the fundamental right of an artist, be they a writer, painter, or musician, to make a livelihood from their work. Taking their work without permission, deprives them of income. Whether a user makes one copy or a million, their actions take away someone's earnings. It is no different than stealing.

Taking someone's work, and then neglecting or refusing to acknowledge their ownership of the piece, is also wrong. Through this action, the author's ownership of the piece is denied, and the audience is deprived of knowing the true author.

If a user takes someone else's work, and also fraudulently claims ownership of a work that they did not create, or sells the work without compensating the true author, then they are committing a crime. A copyright holder in such circumstances, has a strong case for legal action against the perpetrator."

Copyright © 1999 by Oleh Sydor. This material may not be copied by any means without the prior written consent of the author.

Still More About Copyright is a great reference for anyone with questions about copyright issues.

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Liberal Arts · I.C. 2070 ·
Updated 15 Dec 00