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Copyright for Animation

Submitted Questions:

What does the process of enforcing copyright look like from the perspective of an independent artist?

When copyright is violated, what are some accessible paths in taking legal action? For example: a smaller, independent artist has their work unfairly used for commercial use by a larger company. The independent artist may feel intimidated and not sure how to approach the situation legally.

Best Student Answers:

A lot of ways independent artists can deal with copyright violation is mainly through prevention. Adding watermarks, making it clear in commissioned works that they still own the copyright, scaling down the quality before posting online. All of these can make it easier to prove in court that something belongs to you, and not the person that stole it, without having to pay for a work to be copyright registered.

I think sending a takedown request would be the first course of action, and registering any copyright/trademarks officially if you hadn't already.  I think if no action is taken by the larger company after the takedown request, they might need to reach out to a lawyer.

More information:

Again, use your connections to your advantage - talk to mentors or other professionals, especially ones who may have encountered copyright violations. 

Submitted Question:

Recently, a photographer, Jingna Zhang, had their photograph used as a reference for a portrait painted detail for detail by an artist that claimed it as their own copyright, and won a cash prize with the painting. The photographer was not able to get it taken down from an art exhibit because they couldn't prove their copyright despite the works looking nearly identical. In a court case in Luxembourg, the judge ruled the painter owned the copyright on the portrait and the photographer had no rights to the work.

Why was the case tried in Luxembourg? What was the judge's rationale? Was this a good judgement according to what you know about copyright law?

See this article for details and to view the images in question. 

Best Student Answers:

The judge claimed that the pose in the photo was not original enough to be copyrightable, hence the image had no copyright. This is completely unfair judgement. The photographer took that photo and somebody copied it. I think no matter how much effort this artist may have put into each brush stroke, they did not add anything of value to the original photo in order for it to be the artist's own copyrighted work. I think this court case is scary for copyright laws in Luxembourg as it may allow for further copying of peoples' art. Just because you copy in a different medium, doesn't mean you own the copyright.

I think it was tried in Luxembourg because that's where the painter is located.

More Information:

This is a puzzling and troublesome situation. It could be that the Luxembourg courts are more lenient on this matter, and the same case tried in another country (or by a different judge) would produce a different result. This is a good example of how subjective copyright legislation is!