Copyright and credit, it’s something we all know is very important, especially to ourselves, but what does it mean?
Copyright means exactly what it says; the right to copy something. When you create a piece of work, let’s say a drawing, you want the copyright for yourself. You want yourself to be the only one owning this piece of artwork, and to be the only one able to make prints with it, thus earning money with your own work, or just to be the only one having the rights to display it.
When someone else uses your artwork without permission, they are breaking the copyright law. Most people, who use other people’s artwork, are not breaking the law on purpose, and also don’t make money with it. Heck, I’ve used both fan arts and official artwork on my websites, and I still do it a little, although I know better. Of course, creating a fan site using official artwork from a series or movie, as long as you don’t make any money with it, can be seen as a greyzone. We all do that, don’t we? And as far as I know, only Disney gets butthurt when you do so. Using fan art or private artwork without permission however, is literally breaking the copyright of someone else. That is something we don’t want to do! We are not thieves, are we?
Yet, because it doesn’t hurt anyone (we think), we still do it. It’s so easy to browse a site filled with beautiful art, and wanting to create something with it. It’s so easy, to just save the image to the PC, which isn’t a crime in itself. But as soon as we upload it somewhere else, be it in its original form, or as something newly created, we are thieves. We are showcasing something that isn’t ours. Creating a design with a picture that isn’t ours, and then claiming the copyright for the work is not right.
This leads me to my next point; credit. Because this is where we stop being thieves.
If you get the permission to use someone else’s artwork, you have to give them credit, as you are still using the work of someone else. It doesn’t matter, if you ask the creator him/herself to get a written permission, or use something you downloaded on a site. Always credit the original creator! It’s the polite thing to do, and you’d want others to give you credit for your work too, am I not right?
But who do you give credit? It can sometimes be hard to find out, as some contributors work for the sites that offer the download you are using. If you cannot find a specific profile, the best you can do, is to link the site you found it at. Believe me; it’s so much better than just doing nothing. If you are browsing Deviantart though, it’s not enough to credit the site as a whole. Give proper credit, and link the profile page of the creator, or to the work itself. This also goes for Google Images! Yes, believe it or not, but Google is NOT hosting all of the delicious images you find on there, and many of them are NOT to be taken and used! When opening an image using Google, you will see a link to the original destination, and the site it is being hosted on. Visit that site, and see if you are allowed to use that image for yourself. Quite often, the images link to profiles on Deviantart, or other sites hosting a lot of images, and then we are back to the point, where we need to ask for permission.
We should all ask ourselves; “Would I like to see someone use something I created without permission?”. The answer should be “No!”. No, we don’t want others to just go and take what we spent time and effort on creating, and thus, we shouldn’t do that to others.
All in all, it’s quite easy to understand copyright and credit, yet so many people don’t know what it’s all about. Whether it’s because they are lazy, or maybe think it’s okay for them to do what they do, if they don’t earn any money with whatever they created with other people’s things. Making money with someone else’s creations is OBVIOUSLY against the law, but people still do it. Go figure.
My last words here will have to be; Respect copyright, and give credit where it’s needed. You’re going to feel good doing so, I promise 🙂
Ever had trouble with people who didn’t understand these rules? Or have you been one of those at some point? Share your story in the comments for everyone to learn more about this!