Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lo-Res Copyright question

As resolution decreases, the integrety of an image decreases along with it. At what point does a painting or photograph alter so much that claim of ownership is lost? Is it one pixel? Is it the point where the average viewer can no longer recognize the image? Is it less strict than that? Can changing your screen res put a piece of art into the public domain?

As an artist do you care if somebody takes your work and turns it into a 80 by 80 icon? Is it still the same piece of art that you painted? Is it still your art at 240 by 240? at 5 x 5?

At what resolution is everything public domain?

5 comments:

Yehuda said...

Adam - I am not a lawyer, although I have read a lot about copyright laws.

Copyright prevents someone from copying your material. This prevention is enforced for any type of complete or derivative copy of the work. This prevention is relaxed for any type of fair use of the work, so long as this usage can be proved not to harm the economic value of the work. There are known criteria for fair work, such as using a single image or some extracted text or film used in a critique or review of a work, and for parodies.

A single pixel from an image technically constitutes copyright violation. However, since there is no reason you can't just come up with that pixel on your own without having to extract it from the image, there is no way that you can be charged with this, unless you attest to having done so.

The answer as to how many pixels constitutes probably charges is deliberately vague. The law gives each judge lattitude to decide for themselves given the evidence. There is no exact number, nor will there ever be. It depends on the circumstances.

Fair use allows you to reproduce a single image of a collection, or even a smaller version of a single image if you can demostrate that the image does not reduce the commercial viability of the original image/series, and it is done for non-commercial use and for a particular reason: review, parody, or so on.

In no case does the term "public domain" come into play. Public domain is an item whose copyright has been forfeited or expired. Even a pathetic low res picture is not in the public domain. Even this comment isn't, unless deliberately made so.

Yehuda

Adam Conus said...

Thanks,

"Public Domain" was a poor choice of words. If you can recognize a mark, and the owner can too, they could take legal action. The final decision would be left to a judge (and/or lawyers, etc.) Essentially, what you say.

There is an online gray market of low-res art. Icons, smileys, signatures, ect. that when made from copyrighted materials are technically stolen.

What prompted the post in the first place was a desire to let players submit art for a card game I'm working on, but try and have some sort of fail-safe in case somebody submitted copyrighted material they didn't own. An escape clause for me, as it were. Keeping images low res might keep artists from caring what gets posted, but it wouldn't make it legal.

The search continues...

Jirel said...

Hmmm "Fair use allows you to reproduce a single image of a collection, or even a smaller version of a single image if you can demostrate that the image does not reduce the commercial viability of the original image/series, and it is done for non-commercial use." I bet that reproduced to use on one tshirt when the design does not currently exist anywhere in the world on a tshirt would satisfy the 'does not reduce the commercial visability of the original image/series and it is done for non-commercial use." rule. :)

Shara said...

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