My cousin made a cartogram depicting world population in microsoft paint.

]()![world population cartogram

It became quite popular and he was contacted by the author of an earlier world population cartogram.

enter image description here

The author of the earlier cartogram insisted that my cousin's work violated his copyright. My cousin acquiesced and listed the earlier author as the copyright holder of the newer map.

It seems wrong to me. My cousin's work seems original. But the lawyer at his university said that it is not. Who is right?

Edit: I'm looking for general thoughts and information based on personal experience. Obviously the question is ultimately a legal one and requires a lawyers input.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a legal question, not a design question. And one that you've already spoken with a lawyer about. – Ryan Feb 26 '15 at 4:34
  • you should fight for your right or you get none. – joojaa Feb 26 '15 at 5:31
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    @DA01: The data is obviously not the same. If I am not mistaken, the only thing that the two pictures have in common is the type of the diagram, which is subject to patent rights (if at all) but not copyright. – Wrzlprmft Feb 26 '15 at 7:44
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    @DA01 I agree that this should be the case. They dont even stack teh data same way, which is CLEARLY artistic vision on the authors part. – joojaa Feb 26 '15 at 9:36
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    @Ryan I understand your argument. I think it is an issue that affects designers. For example, my cousin, as a designer, might choose to take on different projects if he knows that he won't be able to own his work at the end. – Ben Haley Feb 26 '15 at 21:27

This is a general comment that is too long for a comment:

You can only ask these questions from your lawyer. Not the universitys or aybody elses lawyer. The reason is the other lawyers are looking for other interests. The university lawyer is looking for the universitys interests.

Since no one here is your lawyer our advice is as good as the universitys. Bit seeems to me the university lawyer was good at resolving the issue from universitys standpoint by minimizing his workload.

Get a Lawyer of your own. Its not that expensive. Other than this ot is off topic.

By the way arent you breaking copyright by showing those pictures?

  • 2
    Reproduction for the purposes of argument (as here) is normally Fair Use. – Andrew Leach Feb 26 '15 at 9:13
  • @AndrewLeach Only in USA, there are no Fair Use provision in most other countries. Besides fiar use is very weak in terms of protection. – joojaa Feb 26 '15 at 9:31
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    Good point. I'm not looking for true legal advice, just a basic intuition. Also, low resolution reproduction is allowed. – Ben Haley Feb 26 '15 at 21:23

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