We’ve recently found a useful Infographic from Follio who run a website, primarily selling art works. However they have produced a handy (and attractive) infographic on image manipulation and how to avoid copyright infringement. It focuses on US law but does also include some details about UK law. It also considers the tricky issues of what ‘originality’ and ‘substantial use’ are whilst providing some handy visual cues as to what these look like in practice.
In order for a work to be protected by copyright it must be ‘original’, however this doesn’t mean that it has be entirely novel. This means two images that look quite similar can be two independent original copyright works. Similarly copyright infringement only occurs when someone uses a ‘substantial’ part of someone else’s work without permission. However we all know that we are inspired by the work of others – that’s how art and culture works.
So the question of what is original is really key and when we use works of art, knowing what is substantial is very different to when we might quote an extract from a book or journal article. You can see the infographic in it’s full glory on the Follio website. We would also recommend checking out the copyrightuser.org advice for visual artists which answers questions directly from the creative community in a clear and engaging way.