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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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!
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:
There is also an additional FREE SVG Pattern Download that has been available in the Pattern Elements section of TheVectorLab.com.
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.
Demonstration / How-To Video: