Following copyright laws and preventing any sort of infringement is important in our industry. Many a times we need to tread carefully before selecting resources for our ecards. Here are some guidelines that will shed some light on gray areas and help 123Greetings Studio visualizers to understand copyright policies, as it is important to abide by them, to protect themselves from reputation damage, monetary loss, and lawsuits.
To begin with let us understand what Copyright is – Copyright legally protects the original work of a creator. Copyright applies to individual card components such as images, music, text and font and also to the overall concept and presentation of the storyline.
Copyright Infringement on the other hand includes a violation of the rights that the original creator holds. This includes but is not limited to:
• Use of an image without permission (partly or whole).
• Use beyond the scope of a license or permission.
• Modifying an image without permission of the creator.
The above also applies to copy/ texts and music.
123Greetings.com complies with DMCA – The Digital Millennium Copyright Act : On the basis of this act, 123Greetings will remove all content if properly notified that such content infringes another’s intellectual property rights. To know more about DMCA please read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act
Here are some important pointers to remember while using/ purchasing images:
- An image found on Google search is not free to use. You need to acquire the license to use the image.
- Only images available in public domains can be used for free as this content is not owned by anyone.
- If you purchase an image then follow the licensing agreement and keep a note of its expiry date.
- To protect yourself from any legalities it is best to source your image from a supplier that offers legal protection with its images. Examples include model release forms or property release forms. ‘Indemnification’ is the terminology that is commonly used with images that offer legal protection.
- For all trademarked images you require a property release form. Trademarks can be on images, logos or a product. They may also be on architectural or historical monuments such as the Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower Lights.
- You must always check the license agreement and ensure that images can be used for commercial purposes. Images may be accompanied by different kind of licenses for commercial or personal use.
- Mostly free images do not come with any form of legal protection and if you use that image then you are responsible for any claim on it.
- Free images are usually over used and may not offer the unique feel that you are looking for.
How do you identify whether an image/music/text is copyrighted or not?
- Check the terms of service of the website which is the source of the image.
- There are few websites that offer public domain images. These sites such as Wikimedia Commons, Morguefile can be preferred to select images from.
- Don’t assume ROYALTY FREE means the image is free for use. Check the license details for Royalty free images.
- Images of popular personalities like actors, models, politicians etc should not be used. Note apart from copyright laws the rights of famous personalities are governed be personality laws wherein for any commercial usage, a relevant permission is required from them.
- Images of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa etc. can be used in the right spirit where the content is intended for a social cause meant to inspire on a particular note.
- Usage of images from famous movies, famous paintings or TVCs is prohibited.
- While you use text, avoid the use of lyrics of popular songs. Note that these are copyrighted to respective production companies and also to the lyricists and composers of the songs.
- Avoid using vocals as part of the music unless the vocal is your own. Also note that if you are singing a popular song of a famous movie and using it in your ecard, then too you are infringing copyrights since it leads to the creation of a derivative work of the song without prior permission from the original owner.
- Any creation goes into public domain 70 years after the death of the creator. Hence if you know the original creator then you can verify at your end if his/her creations are in public domain. For example the works of Charles Dickens are now in public domain. So copies based on his write-up can be used. But in such instance the name of the author needs to be quoted.
Please keep these pointers in mind before producing your next ecard.