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Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
I am self publishing a book on composites. I have redrawn all images (i.e. they are not scanned), but many of them are similar or the same as the originals.

At first, this might seem like immediate copyright violation, but from what I understand there is more to it. Images such as pictures, etc. cannot be directly used or slightly modified without violating copyrights. However, if the image is a representation of a fact, then it is not copyrightable in the first place.

Many images are just that, representation of data. Some of them are "typical" type figures, built up from simple geometries.

So I guess my question is if there is just some general information and guidelines that I should go by. I plan on contacting the original owners and getting permission (if needed), but it is not always clear when I do it. I can provide some samples if there becomes any interest in this thread.

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
Well you are right about that.  But I figured some may have published works and be familiar with how it might pertain to engineering graphics.  It appears to be different than for typical copyrights of photographic images.  My next step will be a copyright lawyer.  I figured it couldn't hurt to ask the engineering community first.  There are a lot of people with knowledge outside of equations and the like. For example, after I understand it, I would be able to give first order information in the future.  

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

Kind of like I-beam sections.  They are considered "public".  So you might be right - but lets not fight it and as suggested - see a lawyer.

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
IRstuff,

OK, so I broke down and contacted a lawyer. I guess that needed to done anyway.

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

AFAIK, original drawings, even drawings of other pictures or drawings, are original work (as long as the items are not trademarked!)

If you redrew diagrams that exist elsewhere, I would make them different enough to make them appear original even if it requires closer inspection.  e.g. Different arrow sizes, line styles, and overall proportions.

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
TheTick,

Yeah, I am thinking along the same lines. The challenge for me is that some of the drawings almost must be that way, based on the physics. So they can have both artistic (copyrightable) and factual elements (not copyrightable). The challenge becomes knowing where the boundary is. The other option is to just obtain the permission if I am not sure. The only problem with this is if you are dealing with hundreds of images from different sources, it could be very time consuming to get copyright permission. So the path of least resistance may be to modify the image accordingly.

This is definitely one area where self publishing is not a good idea. A novel would be a different story.

I will have the copyright lawyer have a look and see what he thinks about my current images and what should be done.

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
That will get flushed out when attempted to obtain the copyright. In fact, I recently experienced that with when I submitted a request. They redirect you to where the they obtained the copyright. It can easily grow to be a time consuming task.

 

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

I was writing a paper for a committee last week and it included a block diagram of an Amine plant.  I used a similar diagram from a book as my starting point, but I added color coding and some different labels that I thought made it clearer.  One of the guys on the committee complained that it was a crummy drawing and sent me the one I should use--of course it was identical in every detail to the one in the book I started with.  His source was a different book.  I'm not sure who owns that copyright, but adding color coding changed it enough that I didn't feel that I needed to cite the one I started with.  The committee attorney agreed with me.

If your re-drawn diagrams have had value added to them then they are no longer the other guy's proprietary information.  I have a pending patent for a device that is owned by a major manufacturer, I took two internal components and made very slight modifications and several patent lawyers felt that this is patentable.  These were tiny changes to a significant piece of equipment.  I believe that your pictures will be fine, let us know what the lawyer says.

David

David

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

You have more for your defense than just the published work.  Keep the source material for your artwork: all the CAD, Illustrator, Visio, Paint, etc. files you use to generate your diagrams.  Then you can clearly demonstrate the originality of your work if you are ever questioned.

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
100% of the graphics are "new" in that there are no scanned images. That does not yield an acceptable aesthetic result to me. If I like an image, I redraw it, but it often comes out nearly identical. The difficulty is to know when the image is distinct enough to not violate copyright. This can be a problem if the original artwork was done very well (i.e. I don't want a different image). But I should be able to get some more info within the next few weeks from my lawyer. I will post what he thinks. My designer thinks everything is OK, but he admitted he is not a lawyer. What tripped me up was I asked a publisher if a particular image was copyrightable and to my surprise they said yes. I thought it was just a display of a factual result (i.e. just data curves). So now I am questioning everything.

It is definitely frustrating to go through this, but after spending a lot of time on drawings I can see why it is necessary to be protected. I would not someone ripping me off, but only for "advanced" images. I don't care too much about basic images. Of course, where is the line?

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

Looking forward to hearing what your lawyer says.

RE: Copyrighting - Using the LIkeness of Images

(OP)
I had a long discussion with the lawyer. It is definitely a grey area. For better or worse, there does not seem to be much litigation in this area (simple engineering type graphics). This is good because it seems a lawsuit is unlikely, but bad because it is hard to get a good understanding of what is copyrightable and what is not.

Per his assessment of the 30 images I sent, only 1 got his attention. This was the same one that my designer (also a self publisher) suggested to change. Based on this, the risk appears to be low.

For the most part, the images are relatively basic and therefore probably not copyrightable. For images with similarity, they are distinct enough to not violate a copyright.

Brian
www.espcomposites.com

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