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Glossary For Copyright Protection Group

Author – The person/artist who actually creates something. The exception is a work made for hire where the employer is considered the author.

Attribution – A requirement to acknowledge or credit the copyright owner when their work is used or appears in another work; to attribute the work to the appropriate source

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works – An international agreement governing copyright. Basically, it requires its members to recognize the copyright of works of authors from other member countries

Cease-and-Desist Letter – A letter demanding that the recipient refrain from a certain behavior, such as copyright infringement. A cease-and-desist letter can be sent by anyone, although typically they are drafted by a lawyer.

Collage – A collage is an artwork created by bringing together a variety of cut-out images (may include digital images), textures and possibly objects in a fresh and unexpected way to create an image that is more than the sum of its parts. Creating a collage using copyrighted material may or may not be a copyright violation (See Fair Use.)

Commercial Use – Using someone’s image or artwork to sell a product.

Commission – A business agreement between an artist and a client, or an authorization by an organization, whereby the artist is given directives and specifications on the creation of a piece of art to be created or showcased for the clients’ purpose. Unless otherwise stated in a contract, the copyright for a commissioned work belongs to the person or entity commissioning it.

Copyright – A set of exclusive rights giving the creator or copyright holder of an original work the right to copy, distribute and adapt their work.

Copyright Infringement – The unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.

Copyright Notice – A notice that material is copyrighted by the author. After January 1, 1978, copyright notice is not required for material to be considered copyrighted. The author obtains copyright at the moment of creation – putting an idea in a physical or fixed form, such as a written story. A copyright notice has three parts: the copyright symbol (©), the year of creation, and the author’s name (ex: © 2009 Jane Author).

Corporate Authorship – (See Work Made for Hire) If a work is “made for hire,” the employer – not the employee or contracted person – of a corporation or organization is considered the legal author of a book, or text, when the writing was contributed by an individual. The actual creator may or may not be publicly credited for the work, and this credit does not affect its legal status. Ex: Google hired many programmers to develop the renowned Google search engine, which is credited simply to Google Corporation.

Creative commons Licenses – Creative commons licensing applies to images where original artists/authors have made the image/work available to use, but have reserved some rights. There are a few different CC licenses, and each one has a different set of rights applied to it. Make sure you fully understand these different licenses before you use the image/work.

Creative Commons 2.0 Generic [with Attribution] license or CC-by-2.0 -
You may use the work, and adapt it, provided you give attribution to the original owner, and do not so in a way that suggests that they endorse you or the work that you produce.

Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike 2.00, 2.5 and 3.0 -
You may use the work, and adapt it, provided you give attribution to the original owner and do not so in a way that suggests that they endorse you or the work that you produce, and distribute your resulting work under a license which is the same, or similar to the original. That means – you have to make your finished piece available for others to use, under the same terms.

Derivative Works – A derivative work is any new or original product that includes aspects of a pre-existing, copyrighted work. Only the original copyright owner has the right to produce and profit from the derivative work. Only the copyright owner has the right to authorize derivative works created by another artist.

DMCA Safe Harbor (US Code) – Protects online service providers (OSPs) from liability for information posted or transmitted by subscribers if they quickly remove or disable access to material identified in a copyright holder’s complaint.

DMCA Takedown Notice -While an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not liable for transmitting information that may infringe a copyright, the ISP must remove materials from users’ websites that appear to constitute copyright in­fringement after it receives proper notice.

Duration – Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are automatically protected by copyright from the moment of creation until 70 years after the author’s death; in the case of work created by a corporation or business entity, the copyright duration is 95 years from the first publication date, or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever expires first.

Fair Dealing – Used in the UK, and some other Commonwealth countries. Similar in meaning to Fair Use in the US

Fair use – Generally, a copyright owner has the sole right to make copies or reproductions of his or her copyrighted material. The Fair Use doctrine is an exception to that rule. The Fair Use doctrine allows the limited use of copyrighted material for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. There is no bright-line rule dictating how much or what kind of copyright material you can appropriate or sample before a “fair use” turns into a copyright violation. The courts apply a four-factor balancing test to determine whether a would-be infringer’s use of copyrighted material is permissible under the doctrine. The factors are:
1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
A finding of a legitimate fair use is always based on a fact-sensitive analysis, so unless the Fair Use doctrine obviously applies, a good rule of thumb is to always seek permission before using copyrighted material.

Fan Art – Fan art is any type of unauthorized work that incorporates preexisting characters, ideas or stories from books, comics, movies or video games. Such works are typically created by unaffiliated amateur artists who are not seeking to be compensated for the works.

Forgery – A copy or reproduction presented as genuine/original in order to defraud.

Homage – When artists pay respect or acknowledge a renowned artist’s achievements and create a piece of art representing aspects of that artist, including some copying of the artist’s style within that piece of work. (See also Fair Use.)

Idea- Copyright law does not protect ideas. Rather, it protects the expression of an idea in a physical or fixed form, as in a short story that has been written down, not just imagined or discussed.

Intellectual Property – Inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

Joint Authorship – Joint authorship occurs when a work created by more than one author. The authors must have intended to create the work together – to combine their efforts to produce a single work. Unless there is a contract stating otherwise, each author owns copyright in the work and can transfer these rights to a third party without the consent of the other joint author(s) (ex: grant permission for a publisher to print and distribute copies of a jointly authored novel). Authors can be individuals, organizations, or corporations. (See Work Made for Hire and Corporate Authorship.)

Method – A method for doing something is not protected by copyright. If you write a description of the method, the writing is protected, but the method itself is not.

Montage – A montage is a composite picture made by combining several separate pictures or a succession of images in a motion picture to illustrate an association of ideas; a literary, musical or artistic composite of various elements. A montage may be deemed a violation of copyright if too much copyrighted material is used without permission. (See Fair Use.)

NET Act (No Electronic Theft Act) – a US law passed in 1997, provides for criminal prosecution of individuals who engage in copyright infringement, even when there is no monetary profit or commercial benefit from the infringement.

Orphan Work – A copyright work where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder.

Parody – A work that ridicules another, usually well-known work, by imitating it in a comic way.

Pastiche – A literary or artistic work from or imitating various sources. Pastiche is different from parody and derivative works in that it does not use exaggeration for satiric expression, or merely regard the replication of a work; pastiche is a “patchwork” form of artistry that is a blend of many works; it is a composition made up of selections of different works, styles and materials. Pastiche may be allowed without violating copyright under the Fair Use Doctrine. (See Fair Use.)

Patent – An official document issued by a government conferring right to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention. In contrast to copyrights, which only protect fixed works, patents can be granted for ideas.

Performing arts works – A classification of copyrightable works that includes works prepared for the purpose of being “performed directly before an audience or indirectly by means of any device or process.” This category includes: musical works; dramatic works and any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; and motion pictures and other audiovisual works.

Plagiarism – The passing off of another’s idea, or the expression of that idea, as one’s own. In general, plagiarism is not a crime; it is an ethical violation prosecuted by academic or other authorities, not the courts. If, however, the plagiarized martial was copyrighted and used without the permission of whoever holds the copyright, then the plagiarism may constitute a copyright violation, and could be actionable under copyright law.

Public Domain – Images [or works] that are in the public domain, have no intellectual property value or coverage at all. That means they belong to nobody, and can be used freely, for any purpose. PD images have either been placed into this license type by the original owner – who has waived all rights to the work, or because the original copyright has expired.

Publication – The distribution of copies of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending. The offering to distribute copies to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

Rights Managed – A rights managed license contrasts with a royalty-free license The term Rights Managed means that the seller of the license is specifically giving permission to the buyer to use the content in a certain way. This typically includes restrictions on the length of time, the medium, the size, the format and the location of use.

Royalties – Payments made to the holder of the source, each time money is made on the product. Usually a percentage

Royalty Free – This does not mean the image is free. It means that you would not have to pay royalties to the original artist, when you make sales – you would however, need to purchase rights to use in the first place. Stock images often come as Royalty free, but not always.

Slogans – Slogans are not protected by copyright. Some slogans may be protected under trademark law. (See Trademark.)

Titles – Titles of works, such as books and movies, are not protected by copyright.

Trademark – A symbol, word or phrase that identifies a company or product.

Trademark Infringement – Using a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party. Including a trademark as the focus of a photo or painting

Transformative Work – A ‘new and original’ work that contains some copied elements of another work. The work must be changed enough from the original to have become un-mistakenly the work of the ‘new’ artist.

Work Made for Hire – Copyright law defines a work made for hire in two ways: (1) “work prepared by an employee” within the scope of her employment or (2) work that is “specially ordered or commissioned for the use as a contribution to a collective work,” such as through an independent contractor or freelance artist. Under these circumstances, the “employer” – who may be an individual person, an organization or a corporation – is considered the author in place of the “employee” who actually produced the work.
The employer retains certain limited copyright over the material. For example, an artist who hires an independent contractor to draw illustrations for a book will have limited copyright over the drawings. It is strongly advised to engage in a work for hire contract to minimize copyright disputes and to designate the responsibilities of each party.

Glossary For Copyright Protection Group


Joined February 2010

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Artist's Description

A quick reference of legal and artistic terms found in our group forums.

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  • robpixaday
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