What is Copyright?
Intellectual Property is a term that covers Copyright, Trademark, and Patent as well as industrial designs and industrial secrets.
Copyright is the legal term protecting original works of art, graphics, photographs, written word, music, and other tangible things. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. The Copyright is indicated by ©.
A Copyright is established when a work is created. You do not have to register your work unless you want to receive damages if someone uses it without permission. However, if someone uses your work, you do have the right to tell them to stop or even take them to court if you have not registered the work. You just won't get as much money from it. (Basically, if it's registered, you can get back the amount of income loss caused by the infringement, court costs AND damages that can range upwards to thousands of dollars depending on what the court awards you. If it's not registered, you should be able to get back the amount of income loss for that item, and court costs.) When you see the Music industry getting thousands of dollars per "illegal" download, a lot of that is damages.
For example: Disney has a copyright on it's graphics such as Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh. You cannot use them without getting permission from Disney FIRST. That isn't going to happen as Disney does not give permission to use it's copyrighted material. Although you may see lots of Pooh and Tinkerbell images out on the web, unless Disney approved them, those people can be sued for copyright infringement. Disney also does not want to have it's characters used in erotica. You may see adult art using Disney's characters, but it's not legal work.
When you ask to use an artist's work, you may be asked to pay for using it. This does not mean that you own the work. This is a license to USE the work only. You do not have control over what is done with it, nor do you have the ablity to resell or give it away.
MTA has both Free to Use (FTU) and Pay to Use (PTU) artists (this includes photographers). When you get permission to use the artist's work - image pack or Unlimited license - you are allowed to use the art provided you put the information that MTA provides to you on the image. You also agree not to share the image. It doesn't matter if it's a free artist or not. If someone else wants the art and it's free, you need to send them to MTA to get their own license to use it.
Some people say that if an item is a freebie, then it is not copyrighted. That is wrong. It is copyrighted; it's just that the artist is not asking for you to pay to use it. You must still credit the artist.
Fair use: There is a section of Copyright Law that allows you to use a work or part of one, which is called Fair Use. Be careful of fair use. Some people will tell you that as long as you don't make a profit from the item that it's ok to use under Fair Use. It is not. Fair Use is also called Title 17 of US Code. That code states: