Questions about copyright law from a designers point of view. Answers should not be treated as bona fide legal advice, but instead as advice from designers who've experienced copyright issues in their career. Ask anything about how copyright relates to graphic design, though bear in mind that we are ...

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40
votes
8answers
4k views

How to handle client requests to violate copyrights?

I know Google image search is not a free-for-all to grab any image needed. However, many, many, many clients don't grasp this concept and often request or send images they'd like to use in a design or ...
14
votes
2answers
589 views

What to do if your website design got stolen?

Let say your website design got stolen. You saw your design being used from a different site or company. The only difference from your design is the logo and some images. What actions can you do to ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

How to attribute, give credit to creative commons/copyleft/public domain content for web/print?

Edit: To be extremely succinct: How to credit imagery used on a business card or ballpoint pen? Inspired by this question, I started to think: How do you attribute and give credit, when you ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it necessary to attribute Creative Commons licensed art?

There are tons of sites out there with free graphics. You can find a bunch of these sites through freepik.com. It seems that 99% of these graphics use the CC Attribution 3.0 license. I'm wondering ...
12
votes
3answers
392 views

Where does inspiration end, where does illegitimate copying start?

I'm creating the UI for a web application which will mainly run on Macs. So my goal is to preserve the look and feel of Mac OS. But since I don't use Apples Frameworks I'm not allowed to use their UI ...
11
votes
2answers
927 views

Why are fonts from the 19th century not in the public domain?

(This is probably more a "copyright" question than anything, but I have not found an appropriate StackExchange site for this kind of question.) Why are fonts like Akzidenz-Grotesk, that were made way ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

Is it ethical to copy the work of other designers?

I am neither a graphic designer nor do I consider myself one. I have little grasp of colour theory, and basic knowledge of design principles. I do possess a sense of what looks good, though, and I am ...
10
votes
3answers
953 views

Can I use portions of stock images for derivative works?

I have some stock vector files from istock that I'd like to use as the starting point for a logo. I'd like to stress I wouldn't be using the original image in the logo - but using as a starting point ...
9
votes
8answers
15k views

Where can I get images for commercial use?

I am running a web site design service for local small business owner. I want avoid legal issues on the images I use. Usually, the images found on Flickr are forbidden for commercial use. Where would ...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

Repeat client is suddenly demanding intellectual property rights!

A fairly sizable client whom I've done a few jobs for over the past several years has recently contacted me for a new job. We have never had a contract for any of the work I've done for them (I'm a ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

Charging an Intellectual Property transfer fee for design work

So, you've finished a design job (eg. a logo design) and the client asks for your IP surrounding the logo, eg copyright, original artwork files, notes, sketches, all of that stuff that went into ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Can I freely use the fire exit symbol and similar ISO symbols?

I've been doing some research into this symbol (part of ISO 7010), which I'd like to use: but I can't find out whether I'm allowed to or not. Is the glyph in the public domain? What about similar ...
8
votes
3answers
537 views

Can I use an icon in the public domain as a company logo?

Client in question found a public domain icon they really want to use as their logo (instead of having one designed, I know, I know). Is this legal?
8
votes
2answers
163 views

Making a typeface – should I check if it resembles any non-free or copyrighted typefaces?

I want to make a typeface that I would also let others to download if they happen to like it. But if I use it on the net, and if I also let other people using it, can I have copyright problems? It’s ...
8
votes
2answers
289 views

Establishing the real copyright owner of a font

An increasing collection of fonts are being released for free, but the majority of fonts require a license. For any given font, it's possible to find many versions online, both legal and not. There ...
8
votes
3answers
485 views

Can I revise a poor logo without infringing on copyright? (Canada)

I've been approached by a new client because they are unsatisfied with the logo that was done for them. However, they want to keep the colors and the design... My guess is the problem is in the ...
8
votes
1answer
325 views

Do the illustrations I do for a company belong to me, or to the company?

I'm doing a new website for a business and it's going to involve some original graphics: a large drawing that will get used for various background elements, and two medium-sized looping Flash or GIF ...
7
votes
6answers
11k views

What are the consequences of using unlicensed fonts?

I know that whenever somebody makes something and we want to use it, it is better to contribute to them and pay for it. But I have nothing to hide: I have used fonts illegally a few times. Is it ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Is vectorizing an image copyright theft if the image is not CC/Public domain?

Is it okay to vectorize this image to make a poster out of it even though the image is not Creative Commons or anything like that? I'm not using any part of the image directly and only going to use it ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it legal to use copyrighted fonts without a license for non-profit projects?

I just want to use some specific fonts for a non-profit project. I'll never sell or get any money (not myself or anyone related) with this. Not myself or anyone or the makers of those fonts will ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Plagiarism vs Inspiration

Artists, writers, musicians, designers, businesses, even the creative DIY blogger mom at home must decide for themselves where to draw the line between being “Inspired” and “Copying” other’s hard ...
7
votes
3answers
478 views

Should I assign copyright of business card design?

I'm a professional graphic designer, new to freelancing, and I am preparing a proposal for an identity project. The project includes a logo, a business card design, and an electronic letterhead ...
6
votes
2answers
586 views

Can I legally use the Office icons in a website?

Can I legally use Microsoft Office icons in designing my site? For example:
6
votes
2answers
568 views

Client wants to purchase only stock image from my design mockup instead of my design. How to handle?

I am a graphic designer who provided spec work for a client. I worked on a flyer and I gave them 2 options. They went with one, paid for it. Now they have another project and would like to use the ...
6
votes
1answer
655 views

Font copyright when used in images (Helvetica)

I have a specific Helvetica font that I use for text within graphics I am creating for my website, i.e. buttons, pictures. Do I need a licence or is it sufficient just to have purchased the specific ...
6
votes
2answers
264 views

How do I establish international copyright to my works?

What should I do to establish rights on my work? Does it depend on the country where it was created?
6
votes
3answers
424 views

Can an artist display their past work in a portfolio if they were paid to produce it?

I'm creating a website an artist who draws with pencil+paper. The artist has scans and/or prints of all the illustrations completed over several years for various clients. Many of these were for ...
6
votes
3answers
227 views

Can I take images from Google image search as a base for my creations? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Can I use portions of stock images for derivative works? So this is a legal question and I want to know if I can continue the way I work in a commercial environment. ...
6
votes
2answers
218 views

Vectorizing a Skyline

I need to create a vectorized version of my local city skyline. If I use multiple artists photos as reference, is there any copyright concerns? I realize just taking one photographers work and ...
5
votes
4answers
10k views

How do I know which images are copyrighted and not?

Using google images you can find any image you want these days, even high resolution. The question is how do I know what I can use image wise in the graphic design work assuming that the graphic work ...
5
votes
2answers
229 views

What copyright considerations should I take when putting work on a personal blog?

I've just started with graphic design, and I want to put some of the stuff I'm doing up on a Tumblr blog. I'm also taking some classes and doing a Certificate Program at MCAD soon, and want to form ...
5
votes
3answers
557 views

Is using a portion of quoted text on a poster a derivative work?

I made a poster, for my own use, that uses a few lines from a well known song and I liked the outcome so much I'd like to share it. However, I'm not sure if taking part of a copyrighted material and ...
5
votes
4answers
509 views

How can a designer decide whether a competitors design is similar enough to their own to take further action?

There is a lot of copycatting out in the world, and it's a constant legal battle fought in higher courts. For us ants on the ground, grinding away in smaller capacities with little or no permanent ...
5
votes
3answers
966 views

Copyright ownership: paid by hour vs. paid by project

I am a freelance web designer. I am working out a contract with a client to revamp an existing site and freshen the design. In my contract I have some language which I adapted from the AIGA ...
5
votes
1answer
77 views

Can a client use my designs on products I do not provide?

I've developed several designs for military units over the past few years for one particular store on a military installation which is a not for profit entity. Most of the designs were developed for ...
5
votes
1answer
470 views

How can I use Creative Commons-licensed media in print?

I want to use a CC-BY-SA image in a printed newsletter. What is the most succinct and unobtrusive way I can comply with the license? It would really clutter up my design to slap the creator's name, ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Who owns the design?

Recently, I hired a graphic designer to design a brand, a web site, business cards and several other things. After the initial design was complete and we launched, we have continued to make changes ...
4
votes
3answers
199 views

1 letter used - do I need to buy the entire font?

I am about to finish designing logo. I use two fonts. One I already bought, but the other... I need just one letter from this font but it is not free. Do I need to buy the entire font?
4
votes
2answers
223 views

What is the copyright of fanart?

I often see professional and amateur artists posting drawings of characters they don't own. Some sell "con sketches" of Marvel's Hulk, others create erotic fanart to Assassin's Creed. Who is the ...
4
votes
2answers
779 views

Differences between “Royalty-Free”, “Public Domain”, “Creative Commons” etc

Is there a simple summary somewhere (or can someone provide one) of all the different kinds of legal terms for how and where we can re-use someone else's images? For example these terms are bandied ...
4
votes
2answers
939 views

How to comply with sharealike clause when using creative commons cc-by-sa licensed images in commercial work?

If I want to use images licensed under the creative commons cc-by-sa license, how do I have to share the derivative work in order to comply with the license of the original image? In particular, how ...
4
votes
1answer
650 views

Can I use images / poster from a movie in a flyer to promote a Movie Night?

A client has permission to show movies in a big screen for the public (nonprofit). I was asked to design a flyer to promote the showing. They want me to show the movie poster and make flyers with the ...
4
votes
1answer
135 views

Does building a site from a design concept violate creative commons no derivatives clause?

Let's say I'm building a personal blog / portfolio site and I'm looking for design inspiration. So here is an example of a website design concept that is protected by creative-commons-no-derivatives. ...
4
votes
2answers
230 views

If I reference a medical textbook or website for hand drawing bones is that considered copyright infringement?

I can't quite figure this one out. I am not copying a custom piece of work, I am copying something that is available in nature, bones. I am also not tracing it, I am drawing by hand using them as a ...
4
votes
3answers
155 views

Protecting against copyright?

I hired someone to help me do some photoshop work. I told them to make screenshots for my game. I also gave them a picture where they have to change the items in it to look like the same object as it ...
4
votes
1answer
57 views

Can you protect social media iconography?

I frequently create mock-ups with free-use icon sets. I've begun to see many designers offer "Premium" commercial licenced sets of Social Media icons. I'm wondering: Is it even possible to make an ...
4
votes
2answers
585 views

Am I breaking any Copyright/IP law by designing and selling posters based on an existing design and concept?

I have found a website that sells posters that includes graphic design, and am now thinking of creating from scratch my own posters to sell on my website, using the same idea/concept (please note that ...
3
votes
9answers
2k views

Would this use of initials in a logo be considered plagiarism..?

Would this be considered plagiarism? I have made the LiveBulb logo 3 days ago, I made it all from scratch. Starting at sketches and completely refined it using grids in Illustrator. Luka Balic ...
3
votes
2answers
103 views

Should stock photos be showcased on photographers website?

I have this client who is a photographer and he wants a website designed for him. The idea that hit me is he wants to show case some of the photos from stock photo sites to his website. As a moral ...
3
votes
2answers
380 views

Can a co-founder/client claim ownership of designs if IP wasn't specifically signed over?

I have never done this before so bear with me. I am a Graphic Designer who started a business 3 years ago with a woman. We created and designed the whole 'program' together. Since the inception of ...