Archive for the ‘ how does copyright protect a work?’ Category

What kind of copying is considered to be infringement?

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

For the purposes of infringement, it is not necessary for the reproduction to be direct and obvious, like photocopying. The reproduction may be indirect, or from memory, or in another form.

For example, let\’s say an artist paints an original floral design. This painting, being an artistic work and original, is protected by copyright. A T-shirt vendor sees the painting, and then creates a pretty good imitation and prints them on T-shirts. This is infringement; the vendor had access to the painting, and although the painting was not reproduced exactly, the T-shirt design sufficiently resembles the painting to be an infringement.

On the other hand, if the T-shirt vendor only imitated one detail from the painting, it may or may not be infringement depending on whether it was considered to be a \”substantial part\” of the copyrighted work. If the artist\’s style could be recognized in the detail, though, it may be considered to be infringement.

Infringement can be unconscious and unintentional, but it is still considered infringement. It\’s possible to see a painting, or read a poem, then later reproduce a substantial part of this painting or poem from memory without realizing or remembering the true source. This is still infringement because intention is not relevant in a civil copyright lawsuit; it is enough that the copyright owner can prove access and the copying of a substantial part.

It is also infringement to sell or rent out copies of works that you knew, or should have known, were protected by copyright, even though the copies were not made by you personally.