Over the years I’ve found there seems to be a lot of confusion about what copyrights are. Here is some clarification of they are and aren’t:
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is an umbrella term referring to commercially valuable creations of the mind. These creations include inventions, artwork, symbols, names, and designs.
What is a copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protects, for example, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as paintings, sculptures, poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. In the United States, copyright protection AUTOMATICALLY exists from the moment the work is created and lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator.
When you hear that someone went out and applied for the copyright of a logo, question it. In our experience we've found there are people in this hobby who will create drama for their own personal gain. The copyright is not something the creator had to apply for but if there is a paper trail on file, it's easy to confirm (http://www.copyright.gov/).
What is a derivative work?
Giving permission to use the work is simple and easy and is what normally occurs when an image is used by individuals, clubs or businesses. A derivative work is a copyrightable creation, which is based on one or more existing works. Only the holder of the copyright of the original can produce or give permission to another to create the next version. A derivative work usually involves a transformation.
Generally, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to and to authorize others to:
Reproduce the work;
Prepare “derivative” works based on the work;
Distribute copies of the work.
The copyright owner may enter into an agreement with another individual/organization to grant one or more of these rights. The copyright owner also has the right to say no.
What is copyright infringement?
Generally, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. It might sound extreme but TWICE we’ve had someone create a complete line of merchandise without ever asking us for permission to use our images for profit. One is a member of our national club. If you use an image without permission, it is a copyright violation. We get all kinds of excuses for why people do it. The most frequent violators are youth who don’t know any better. We’ve found equally often that it’s young adults who know better but use situational ethics to justify bending the rules for their own gain. It happens more often than you think. We find our pictures all over the internet being used without our permission so we now place watermarks over the images making them less appealing to use. And now we have to put watermarks on our images of our for sale Tans because of the unscrupulous individuals who use those pictures in presentations without our knowledge or permission. You'll find the ARBA has absolutely no sense of humor if you try to use their copyrighted materials.