For this assignment, I have been provided three unique scenarios. Each scenario is an opportunity to clarify and discuss modern copyright laws. Copyright can be difficult to understand, so hopefully this helps clarify what is and is not legal under today’s copyright laws.
For a college assignment, Abby designed a logo for a local business. The business owner liked her design and offered to buy it; however, the offer was ridiculously low. Abby declined. A few weeks later Abby noticed the business using a similar logo, altered only slightly from Abby’s original design. The business owner suggested that since he hired a designer to recreate the “new” logo, he was not breaking copyright. He claims “shop rule” applies. Outline what Abby should do. Consider both legal and social options.
Abby reserves every right to pressing charges. First, she should confront the business owner and possibly even the designer, because ultimately the new designer is the one who copied her work. This is an interesting case, because it’s unclear about who the ultimate blame should be assigned to: the business owner or the new designer? The majority of the blame should be assigned to the business owner, since we know he was aware of Abby’s original design. We do not know whether or not the new designer was aware of his interactions with Abby. There is no “shop rule,” therefore, it does not apply.
Josh sends out an email newsletter for his company. The newsletter is informational, it is not trying to promote or sell anything; however, the company is a for-profit business. Last month, Josh did a Google search for images of cats. He included a few in the newsletter. A photographer contacted him this week and asked him to pay several thousand dollars for using the image. Do you think Josh has a solid fair use case? Or does the photographer have the right to claim copyright infringement?
Since the newsletter was sent only within the company, my initial thoughts are that it should be okay. Josh is not trying to make a profit off the newsletter. However, based on the scenario, I don’t necessarily know if the newsletter was sent within the company. In fact, it was probably sent out to subscribers, in which case, Josh should have sought permission to use the photo before sending out the newsletter. The photographer reserves the right to claim copyright infringement.
While designing a logo of sheep, Jessica looked at six images found on a Google image search. She didn’t trace over the images, but did use them as reference for her drawing. She pulled out elements of each one to create her final logo. Is using reference images in this way an infringement of copyright?
Images can be used as a reference. As long as Jessica was not copying or tracing the image, she is okay to use the image as a reference for drawing. There’s a very good change she simply couldn’t remember what a sheep looked like. This is fair use and not an infringement of copyright.
Source of Images