T-Shirt Forums banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I have a question about copyrights on something that is posted, but is being encouraged to be downloaded by the copyright owner.

In particular, wallpapers. On several manufacturer, and publication sites, they have a wallpaper section where they encourage you to use these images for your own personal desktop use. Since permission is granted to use the images, could you then use them on t-shirts?

I am assuming not, but I want to put the question out there since the fact that they encourage the photos use in some ways seems like permission for personal use. Thanks
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
From their point of view personal use on a desktop doesn't translate to commercial use on a t-shirt (or even personal use on a t-shirt).

What you are talking about is actually a bit of a legal quagmire. People regularly try to give up some rights, but retain others when it comes to their copyright. The problem is that's not how copyright works - it is (generally) all or nothing. You release it into public domain, or you don't. As you say, it can open the way for them inadvertantly having given permission for use (note that I said "can" and not "does" - talk to a lawyer if you need it to be does - it will depend on the circumstances).

The only way to give up some rights and yet retain others is to enter into a legal contract (this is what Creative Commons, GNU, etc. is based on). Describing permissions how you want them to be in plain English is not enough, presumably because people could later claim it wasn't clear what rights they did and didn't have. It needs to be backed up in law.

So legally it would depend on the specific site in question - some you could use it (whether they want you to or not), some you couldn't.

But that's always struck me as completely and utterly irrelevant. If it's clear that the copyright holder doesn't want you to go and print the image on a t-shirt (and it's normally fairly clear - you can always ask them if it isn't) then you shouldn't do it. Morally you can't do it - so who cares whether or not the law backs you up?

If you want to find a loophole to steal other people's intellectual property, then talk to a lawyer about it - they may be able to help you. If you care what the copyright owner thinks - just tell them what you want to do, and ask them if they'll let you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Exactly right, if you have any question of whether or not you're legally or morally in the right to use somebody elses designs or photographs, email them and ask permission. I've browsed the web, and found several designs that i was very impressed with, and I emailed, and asked for permission to use the designs, for personal use in limited #. Everyone that responded to my email allowed me to print their designs. I think if you find something online that is too brilliant to pass up for commercial use, email the person that created the design, see if you can't start a business relationship, such as paying a royalty for every time you use their design. Almost nobody can resist money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
> The problem is that's not how copyright works - it is (generally) all or nothing. You release it into public domain, or you don't.

-----------------------------------------

Actually, no. Every time a work is published, the copyright owner has made a bargain with the publisher that gives the publisher rights to use the work. Every work can be licensed, often in several ways, without endangering the copyright holder's rights. This is basically what copyright are for - to give an artist control over how the work is distributed.

So it is completely proper for a copyright holder to *give away* some licensing rights while retaining all other rights. It's the same deal you'd make with a publisher, but you're not charging money. That free license does not give the licensee any additional rights to the work and does not affect the copyright holder's rights to it, either.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
BWS said:
> The problem is that's not how copyright works - it is (generally) all or nothing. You release it into public domain, or you don't.

-----------------------------------------

Actually, no. Every time a work is published, the copyright owner has made a bargain with the publisher that gives the publisher rights to use the work. Every work can be licensed, often in several ways, without endangering the copyright holder's rights.
I already covered this. Like I said "The only way to give up some rights and yet retain others is to enter into a legal contract"; it's also why I added the "generally" modifier. When you sell to a publisher you enter a legal contract, giving up certain rights in return for certain gratuities. My point was that it's all about the legal contracts (as opposed to the Benjamins :)).

Publishers are not the devil and you do not make bargains with them, you sign legally binding documents that will be upheld in a court of law.

BWS said:
This is basically what copyright are for - to give an artist control over how the work is distributed.
Not exactly. That's what it's come to be used for, but it's not what it was really created to do. Copyright was intended to stop the rampant plaigarism that was robbing publishers and writers of a wage. It wasn't about giving an artist control over every detail, it was about making sure they got paid for their efforts.

Because it wasn't initially designed to be as complex and powerful as it has become, it's not really so black and white - we're dealing with a century of appendices, multiple international conventions, and so forth. Plus international copyright law is still not universally adopted - not all countries have signed the Berne Convention, and of the countries that haven't signed some have their own form of copyright laws and some don't. Even the UK and the US do not agree on some basic principles of copyright law.

The point of all this at any rate, is that copyright is not simply any one thing.

BWS said:
So it is completely proper for a copyright holder to *give away* some licensing rights while retaining all other rights.
If they do it in a way allowed for by copyright law, yes. If not, they risk giving up more than they intended - depending on which way the court finds when they attempt to sue someone.

BWS said:
It's the same deal you'd make with a publisher, but you're not charging money.
No, it's not. With a publisher you've explicitly signed a contract - this protects you as well as them. With the general public you have to write a licensing agreement for them to agree to (or use a service that has already done it for you - now possible thanks to Creative Commons). Most people don't bother.

Also, "but you're not charging money" is a much more powerful concept than people often allow for. For example, if you're not making any money off a work and you sue for damages... well it's hard to prove lost revenue. Money, as in most aspects of life, changes everything.

BWS said:
That free license does not give the licensee any additional rights to the work and does not affect the copyright holder's rights to it, either.
...if done properly. If that free licence is mishandled it can do exactly that. I was pretty clear in my first message that it didn't instantly open up a free-for-all, or cause people to throw away their rights.

Like I said, it's a legal quagmire. It's not as simple as just giving work away and telling people what you want to do with it. If you want to share your work in a non-commercial context the copyright law is complicated - it's not designed to protect people who want to give away some rights and not others.

Copyright law was specifically written from a capitalist mindset. It also allows you to be completely philanthropic and give away your work (this was most likely intended to be used for works of a political or religious nature). Yes, there are ways to do more or less whatever you want with your own work and still be protected by copyright. No, they are not as simple as wishing it were such and so... which is what I said in the first place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for clearing that up, it looks like I will ask before using any "freebie" wallpaper images. i doubt I will be granted permission since the sights in question are magazine site, but the worse they can do it say no if I ask
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top