Copyrights: Are they always Black and White?

Copyrights: Are they always Black and White?


Hello COLOURlovers!

Copyrights are well known topics that continually float around the community. So I've snagged someone in the business of creating and selling vector artwork to explain in laymen's terms the crazy in's and out's of copyright (with digital art). I'd like to introduce to the blog authorship, Ray Dombroski, founder of The Vector Lab (thevectorlab.com) and a COLOURlover himself.

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Enjoy the post ~ Molly Bermea / Blog Editor


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Copyrights

Intellectual Property and Copyrights

Whenever an artist creates a new original work in the United States as well as in many other countries, it is automatically covered under copyright protection.  With the use of licensing, that artist can grant certain additional rights to others. A license can be written to give someone else the right to resell the art or create derivative works (remix or change the art), for example. These licenses are important when it comes to using stock art or clip art for your own designs.

Stock Art: Know Your Source

In a COLOURloving world where we are trying to keep our karma points high, it’s important to pay attention to what our fellow artists’ intentions were when they created the stock art we are using. The number one rule is to know your source. Whether you purchased the art from a reputable website, copied it off a friend’s CD, or scanned in some 18th century ornaments from the pages of a clip art book, it’s wise to read their usage license. If you don’t know who the artist is or the company that owns the copyright to the art, it’s best to move on and find another source.

How to Decipher a License

Most stock art websites have mind-numbing license contracts that cover permitted uses and restricted uses of their licensed art. In addition, most have lengthy standard and extended licenses. Thankfully some stock art websites are nice enough to offer a quick reference guide for their permitted/restricted uses and standard/extended license options. As an example, iStock.com's quick reference guide is located here.  Each company has a different contract, but below I’ve called out the most common provisions.

Typical Stock Art Permitted Uses - Standard License

  • - Small Print Runs
  • - Advertising and promotional products
  • - Books, Magazines, Newspapers
  • - Internet Banners, Video
  • - Promotional Prints and Posters not intended for resale
  • - Individual (or one-seat) license. Not to be installed on multiple computers.

Typical Stock Art Permitted Uses – Extended License

  • - Large print runs
  • - Use of the licensed material in products for sale
  • - Multi-seat license

Typical Stock Art Prohibited Uses (For Either Standard or Extended License)

  • - Use the licensed material as part of a trade mark or logo.
  • - Post the licensed material in any format that enables it to be downloaded or distributed.
  • - Distribute, resell, lend, or gift the licensed material.

The Big Question

So can I sell my patterns if they contain stock art covered under this sort of license? What if I purchase an extended license that covers items for resale or electronic items for resale? What if I take multiple vector files such as a floral pack of flowers and swirls and recolor them and create my own combination?

If the re-sold pattern is a vector file (such as an SVG, EPS, AI, PDF) then the answer to these questions is generally a “no.” This is because the two prohibited uses (posting & distributing the vector file) mentioned above would be violated. The reason for this is that the vector line work in these kinds of files stays intact and the stock art can easily be extracted and re-used for a different purpose by the new purchaser.

But the answer can be "yes," if the re-sold pattern is a pixel image or another flattened format such as a JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD, or TIF. If you are reselling the pattern you may be required to purchase an extended license that covers “items for resale” or “electronic items for resale.” Also check to see if the licensing contract has a pixel or DPI resolution limit on the items you are reselling.

Creative Commons

Some artists and designers offer their art under what is known as a Creative Commons License. Wikipedia has a really good breakdown of how this licensing system works – From that website I have called out the main points that are relevant to this article:

Original Licenses:

  • - Attribution: Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they attribute the work to the author or licensor.
  • - Noncommercial: Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
  • - No Derivative Works: Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
  • - Share-alike: Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.

Selling Patterns made with Creative Commons Art

Back to our previous questions about reselling vector patterns that contain Creative Commons art, you are allowed to do so if the license is Attribution alone or Attribution + ShareAlike. If you are not reselling the pattern, but just giving it away, then you can also do this if it’s Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike.

All Creative Commons Licenses require attribution of the original creator. So be sure to include the following:

  • - Include any copyright notices (if applicable)
  • - Cite the author's name, screen name, or user ID
  • - Cite the work's title or name (if applicable)
  • - Cite the specific CC license the work is under
  • - Mention if the work is a derivative work or adaptation

For us COLOURlovers, the world of intellectual property is not always completely black and white. But I hope it brings some understanding and discussion to the subject. Let's get out there and create!


Get Some FREE SVG Pattern Elements

Ray was kind enough to give the community some artwork to make their own patterns in different variations. Use them together, mix 'em up with the COLOURlovers shapes or your own custom shapes! Since Seamless Studio came out, he opened up a section of his site literally to help COLOURlovers who may not have access to vector software. This is the Pattern Elements Section.

These coupons are available until Aug 31, 2011:

Coupon: CL-TVL-PE (Free - Pattern Elements #01)

Coupon: CL-TVL-20 (20% off orders on TVL.com)

There is also an additional FREE SVG Pattern Download that has been available in the Pattern Elements section of TheVectorLab.com.

Direct SVG Files: You Don't Need a Vector Program!

These vector pieces are not only super cool to grab up this month (for FREE), but they come as SVG's! This means that you don't have to have any vector editing software to use them. Simply download them and import the SVG files straight in to Seamless Studio. How cool is that?!

Imported SVG shapes will go straight to your My Shapes  in the collections library in Seamless Studio.

The Vector Lab's, Pattern Elements are automatically offered at no complicated extra charge a, FULL EXTENDED LICENSE - which allows you to re-sell your patterns you create with them.

Now go create!!

Demonstration / How-To Video:

Creating Seamless Vector Patterns from TheVectorLab on Vimeo.


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17 Comments
Showing 1 - 17 of 17 Comments
I'm glad I got to read this, now I know how to maneuver properly!
My understanding of copyrights in CL as they stand now!

1. Colours you create - Attribution (limited to partner's of CL)

2. Palettes you create - Attribution + Sharealike (limited to partners of CL)

3. Patterns you create with others templates - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDeriavatives

4. Templates you create - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDeriavatives for others but for you Attribution limited to partners of CL

5. Your templates coloured by others - This I'm not so clear on. Attribution? But limited to partners of CL

Just curious if I am correct here! :)
Thanks for providing this info. Definitely an area i needed to learn more about. Kudos.
Team
This article on copyright is simply focused on the buying and/or use of stock vectors from other sources other than your own creativity, to create your pattern designs on COLOURlovers.com.

The article has nothing to do with the license terms within the COLOURlovers community and creations therein. That's an entirely different aspect of copyrights and licenses.

This was to help COLOURlovers and Seamless Studio creators understand the use of artwork from sources not their own and how to go about it properly. :)

If you have license questions about your own finished, COLOURlover creations, that's another topic. :D

American Women wrote:
My understanding of copyrights in CL as they stand now!

1. Colours you create - Attribution (limited to partner's of CL)

2. Palettes you create - Attribution + Sharealike (limited to partners of CL)

3. Patterns you create with others templates - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDeriavatives

4. Templates you create - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDeriavatives for others but for you Attribution limited to partners of CL

5. Your templates coloured by others - This I'm not so clear on. Attribution? But limited to partners of CL

Just curious if I am correct here! :)
Ah and a well versed article indeed! Great work Molly! I guess the topic got me curious and inspired a quest for knowledge regarding CL's terms. So same topic different category I suppose.

Can you point me in the right direction? :)


mollybermea wrote:
This article on copyright is simply focused on the buying and/or use of stock vectors from other sources other than your own creativity, to create your pattern designs on COLOURlovers.com.

The article has nothing to do with the license terms within the COLOURlovers community and creations therein. That's an entirely different aspect of copyrights and licenses.

This was to help COLOURlovers and Seamless Studio creators understand the use of artwork from sources not their own and how to go about it properly. :)

If you have license questions about your own finished, COLOURlover creations, that's another topic. :D

American Women wrote:
My understanding of copyrights in CL as they stand now!

1. Colours you create - Attribution (limited to partner's of CL)

2. Palettes you create - Attribution + Sharealike (limited to partners of CL)

3. Patterns you create with others templates - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDeriavatives

4. Templates you create - Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDeriavatives for others but for you Attribution limited to partners of CL

5. Your templates coloured by others - This I'm not so clear on. Attribution? But limited to partners of CL

Just curious if I am correct here! :)
Team
@American Women let me get back to you on the latter, but yes - a great article by Ray! :)
mollybermea wrote:
@American Women let me get back to you on the latter, but yes - a great article by Ray! :)

Thank you Molly & COLOURlovers!
Great article, copyright is a minefield and I can spend as much time trying to work out what I can and can't do as designing, or waiting from clarification replies from artists. Thanks for a clear and concise explanation.
Kimmyp - yes it's certainly a complicated subject with multiple viewpoints. Thanks for your kind words!
A great article! Very useful too...

But again... I come to this conclusion..one can be inspired by everything around us.. but... the best is to make your own Art and so your own Vectors.

The most important thing is being original and put the effort in it...and this comes first, to my opinion.. in Art...instead of copying and borrowing from everywhere else.

Gabrielle Marie
Team
@Gabrielle Marie - :) Thanks for commenting.

Although I do agree with you on one point, I think that there are all different levels of creativity and skill. I think that someone can take a set of vectors and rearrange them fantastically better than I could without having the ability to actually know how to use the vector program in order to create those vector shapes.....

With pattern design on COLOURlovers.com, it's more than being able to draw shapes and then put them in a fantastic layout. COLOURlovers let's expression of creativity happen at any level. COLOURlovers can work together as a team. :)

I think the best way to look at it plainly, is - with the use of Seamless Lite (online version) over the years, there were shapes provided in order for COLOURlovers to create patterns, this isn't any different than using shapes from online resources outside of COLOURlovers.com. These shapes were used as were or combined to create new shapes. That, I think, is the best way to put it. Aside from respecting and following copyrights, it's not any different.

COLOURlovers doesn't restrict creativity to the Graphic Designer. It allows creativity to be expressed and grown in all aspects of someone's capability. :D I have met so many non-Graphic Designers on COLOURlovers.com in the professional respect, who are better with COLOURlovers tools (pattern making, color palette making, etc.) than a "true" Graphic Designer who's gone to school and works in the business.

So while you don't have to necessarily agree with or buy/use shapes from outside sources other than your own hand, I don't necessarily think that these Lovers are doing anything creatively wrong or trying to be sneaky (for the majority). Like Darius said in the forum thread, we will eventually have the ability to more easily credit sources on pieces used from say free vector sites, etc.

This is a good topic to bring up, I know many Lovers have varying opinions on it. The purpose of this article was to help people realize that they can use vector art available out there - just use it properly. :D

Looking forward to your fabulous creations as always Gabriella! - m.
Thanks for writing this Molly!
I'm adding this to the the copywrite section' of my Seamless tutorial page. =)
Whew a lot to read and think about. So let me get this straight regarding one thing: if I use shapes from Colourlovers pattern maker in my design/template and color it can I sell it such as on fabric, etc? or is this still copyright infringement? and also if i color with someone elses' colors can i still sell it? sorry I guess i need to be hit over the head to get this straight.
Hi captiveinflorida,

Thanks for your question. If the shapes were purchased from a stock art site, then this is a permitted use as long as the license allows it to be used on products for sale. I'm not sure about the shapes that are already built into Seamless Studio. Maybe someone from COLOURlovers can answer this?

As far as I know, colors cannot be copyrighted. But they can be trademarked. There would only be infringement if you are essentially copying someone's trademarked logo or product.

Hope that helps.
HEADS UP

ketisse
POSTED 14 HOURS AGO
What about WordPress making what are obviously COLOURlover palettes and patterns FOR SALE in their themes?

I just created a new blog on WordPress and chose a free theme entitled "Bouquet", for which the creator is credited. When I clicked to view customization options, I was given the opportunity to choose from palettes and backgrounds. Three palettes and three patterns from COLOURlovers were displayed at a time.

Of the first 3 options, I recognized two palettes immediately and two patterns:

Palettes: "Thought Provoking" by MissAnthropy and "Giant Goldfish" by Manekineko
Patterns: "Marie Therese" by GabsGiggles, from template "Blossoming Plum" by Incal
"Rain and Lightning" by albenaj, from template "Abstracto" by dazzlement
(thanks to American Women who helped me collect these details)

I captured an image of what was on my screen. Since this appeared on a page I needed to enter my blog password to see, I can't send you a link. You would have to set up a wordpress blog yourself to see what I saw first hand.

I clicked through a dozen sets of palettes 3 at a time and there is no doubt these are from COLOURlovers. WordPress will not allow me to use these color combos or patterns because as you will see on the graphic I captured, I would have to pay for them.
This is very clear.

My questions are "Does COLOURlovers know about this?" and "if palettes and patterns/templates are available for sale on WordPress, do the artists who created them know?" and "Under what circumstances will WordPress' profits be shared with the artists whose creations are shown on their site?"IN THIS FORUM

American Women wrote:
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