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 ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

52
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
908 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
544 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
20k 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
9k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
709 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
25k 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
35k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it safe to use an image when I'm unable to identify its source?

I found a photo on the internet and want to use it in my free Android app. The problem is that I can't find the source, so I don't know if this photo is legally available for such use or not. What ...
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
7answers
2k views

Should graphic artists be scared at all about anyone stealing their artworks?

Are you guys scared at all about anyone stealing your art? What should designers do about it if it happens? I want to post my own art at Instagram or Deviant, now that I'm improving but all the time ...
10
votes
4answers
1k 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?
10
votes
3answers
2k 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
2answers
210 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
660 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
167 views

Is it OK to copy a person's likeness in a realistic portrait without their permission?

Suppose I am designing a set of plates for the next D&D books (which I am not, unfortunately) and suppose I need to draw a monk with a slightly sneaky face. I have tried several concepts out of my ...
8
votes
3answers
855 views

Copyright of a set of colors?

I often see color combinations on webpages, images, posters, products etc. that harmonize really well. Am I allowed to use those colors in my own design? This is solely about the colors. I will not ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

How to handle a client who only wants to purchase stock images from my design mockup, instead of my design?

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
644 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
900 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
6k 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
5k 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
1answer
528 views

How do web designers and companies copyright their work?

Most of the small companies just create designs and do not apply for a copyright. How does copyright come into play if the designer or the company has not copyrighted their work?
7
votes
4answers
463 views

Buying a logo from a graphic designer: who owns the copyright?

I am working with a graphic designer for a new logo. They are offering the logo, but have said there will be parameters put in place to prevent me from editing the logo myself. Is this commonplace ...
7
votes
3answers
732 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
3answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

Is there a way I can find out who owns the rights to an image I want to use on my web app?

Is there a way I can find out who owns the rights to an image I want to use on my web app? Are there any websites that provide that kind of information?
6
votes
2answers
2k 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
4answers
638 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
1k 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
399 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
684 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
2answers
445 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
31k 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
4answers
2k views

Did they steal my work?

Let me pose a hypothetical situation: I hand-produce a very specific type of pen and ink design. I have sold my originals to friends and acquaintances who have them hanging in their houses. A graphic ...
5
votes
2answers
424 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
1k 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
1answer
244 views

How to make graphics that cannot be traced?

We are making a website for graphic designers to sell their work to fashion designers. However the problem is that if we showcase their work, it can simply be copied and traced. I want to ask your ...
5
votes
2answers
465 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
205 views

Is it legal to display third-party logos as part of “As featured in” on sites/printed ads without their consent?

Have seen more companies include logos of media outlets on their site/printed marketing material as part of the "As featured in" section. Is it legal to do this without the companies' consent ...
5
votes
3answers
1k 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
2answers
126 views

Is it legal for a company to request the rights (and much more) to the artworks I created in order to apply to a job/internship?

I was shocked when I recently came across a graphic design internship posting that had the following note in small characters at the bottom: "By submitting a design for consideration in this talent ...
5
votes
1answer
75 views

Is it legally ok to show concepts for existing companies?

I sometimes do rebranding exercises for companies that already exist (eg. a new design for their website, a new logo, etc) but they're uncommissioned and done without asking for permission. Is it okay ...
5
votes
1answer
138 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 ...