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.

The copyright owner establishes how his or her work is to be used - this is called the Terms of Use. There is no set way of determining what goes into the Terms of Use (TOU); it depends on how the artist wishes the work to be used. Some terms state that the user must have a license number; some state that the artist's website must be on the work; some state that the copyright symbol () and artist's name be on the work; some state that "All Rights Reserved" be put on the work - some may require one or all of the things just mentioned.

Copyright is not about income - it's about control over who uses the work and/or how the work is used. Something that is free is just as copyrighted as something that is paid for. The artist (or designee) sets the terms of use, which tells the people using the art what they can or can't do with it. If you take someone's art without permission, and use it - that artist may not even know who is using it, and it may be used in a way that the artist doesn't want.

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:

"Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission. " www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html