View Full Version : Copyright and Creative Commons

02-19-2011, 02:28 AM
Once in a while a discussion arises about copyright and what right somebody has to use something. This post is no where near comprehensive, you need a lawyer for that, but I'll try to wrap up the most relevant information about the subject so you at least have a base to work from. Please note that this information is concerning generic artwork and not only maps. Some of this information can also be found in my thread "taking on a commision (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11215)"

Normally the artist retain copyright of the work. What one "sells" are reproduction rights, and often "exclusive use rights". This means that you the artist own the work, but that the client has the right to use it. Most clients should be satisfied with this arrangement as they get to use the work without having to pay extra for the copyright. You should also always make it clear that you get to use the work in your portfolio - of course in a way that doesn't infringe on the rights you have sold. So for instance you shouldn't post a map in high resolution so people could just download it instead of buying the product your client wants to use it for.
You might also restrict what the client can use the artwork for, or how many times (or years) he can use it. For instance you might agree that the map is to be used for a Roleplaying scenario and only for that. That means that if the client later on want's to use it for a map-pack, he'll have to purchase extra rights for that. This can help you control what your artwork is used for and also to make sure that it isn't used for things that you don't want to be assosiated with (hategroups, illegal activity etc).
Also normally the client has only purchased the right to use the artwork in his own works, that means he is not allowed to sell your artwork for others to use it.

Merchandize etc.:
if the artwork is supposed to be used for direct merchandizing/selling products as the carrying element, for instance on t-shirts or coffee cups, then the price should reflect this (higher price).
Please remember that it is your art that you copyright - the client has most likely supplied you with a lot of information about names and land placement, so he's got the copyright on that part, so often a map has shared copyrights. Of course if the job was "make an inn" all the input might be yours.

Original files:
Normally what you sell is the finished product - that means that the original .psd, .ai, etc files don't belong to the customer. You keep those as your "trade secrets". This also makes sure that the customer can't make any changes to your original work.
If you make a deal with the customer that he/she should be able to change labels later on you can just flatten the image and leave a label layer and send that .psd file.

You should also be sure to be credited for your work. (C)2010 Artist name
especially since this is advertising your work :)

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. http://creativecommons.org/

Creative Commons are alternative to the usual "all rights reserved" and very easy to use. You can post a creative commons logo with 3 little symbols to show exactly what is allowed and disallowed with your art work. The basic idea is to be able to share ones work with others while retaining full copyright.

There are several levels of using CC

CC BY: BY=Attribution, which means that people can do anything with your artwork as long as you are credited
CC BY-ND: ND=NoDerivs, which means that people can use your work commercial and non-commercial and redistribute as long as the don't change it and you are credited
CC BY-SA: SA= Share Alike, which means that people can do anything with your artwork as long as they use the same CC terms and you are credited
CC BY-NC: NC=Non Commercial, which means that people can do anything with your artwork as long as its not commercial and you are credited
CC BY-NC-SA: which means that people can do anything with your work as long as its non commercial, on the same terms and you are credited
CC BY-NC-ND: which means that people can't change your work and can't use it commercially and you have to be credited.

So CC always allows people to download and share your work and some of them allow them to change it and build upon it. With NC you can choose not to allow commercial use and with ND you can stop people from changing it (in theory). I'll suggest checking out their homepage to learn more :)

If you want a little graphic to post on your work they have an easy way of making it here (http://creativecommons.org/choose/).

The graphics can look like this:

Good luck with your mapping - and remember... be carefull out there ;)

02-19-2011, 11:19 AM
A few more notes about copyright and how it works in most jurisdictions:

Creative works are copyrighted from the moment of creation. You do not have to register your copyright in order to own your work. However, it is nearly impossible to prosecute a violator unless you have registered it. In the United States, registering a copyright costs (at this time) $35 through the U.S. Copyright Office ( http://www.copyright.gov ). If you can call the work you did a collection, you can register all of the work you did in a single year for that same fee. There are some conditions on what can be considered a collection, though, so do some research first before filing. The CO's website is fairly informative, so you probably won't need the assistance of a lawyer. Although if you anticipate a significant level of income from your creative activity, a lawyer is definitely a good idea.

Most nations have treaties that stipulate that a copyright administered by one signatory is valid in all of them. So if you register your copyright with the US Copyright Office, it is also valid in the UK, Germany, India, etc. Of course, some nations are better at enforcement than others, and there are still countries that do not participate in the intellectual properties treaties. If someone is violating your copyright in Belarus, you're just out of luck in most cases. In Russia, they'll assure you that they'll take care of it, but chances are good that they never will.

02-19-2011, 12:07 PM
oh... and I might just note that if you find any picture on the internet concider them copyrighted unless noted otherwise - better to err on the safe side :)

02-19-2011, 03:30 PM
Good post and thanks for the detailed breakdown on CC. Since this comes up again with almost every new face wanting to sell their services, could this be a sticky? It would be easier to direct folks to it that way.

02-19-2011, 05:26 PM
good idea... done :)

11-07-2011, 10:45 AM
Thanks man

08-28-2012, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the post. A 'laymans' intro to copyright. Very handy for would be publishers like me. Cheers,