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Never needed to keep a journal. I decided to install it today just to post this.
There is a terrible story about an user that had a complain about copyright infringment, in which she was not the owner of the copyright over the original character as the original belongs to Lauren Faust / Hasbro. The girl unleashed her fanbase (other than all the other pricks around the internet that have no other interesting stuff to do and find it funny) against a Community Manager, Administrator of Deviantart, which i find to be an otrageous thing to do.
I searched for a simple yet effective description of what Copyright means and i found it surprisingly non other than on the respective bashed admin's journal, as a very old entry.
Probably if the people would have bothered to browse and read, they would have been illuminated why the admin took the actions he did on the so often posted screenshot.

What I want to do here is to use the overall issue to compare the differences between copying, plagiarism, and copyright infringement.
These three subjects are all tightly intertwined; sometimes they can all be the same thing and sometimes they are not but the reason I want to talk about them briefly is because the Great Campaign Against Art Theft rarely bothers to notice the distinction and for CEA in 2010 we are pushing a bit more education on these subjects out into the community.

Another problem is that the vague term "art theft" gets applied to all three of these situations and as I've pointed out the "art theft" and "stealing" terms just really don't acknowledge the sometimes subtle shades of grey (not to mention not being the right terms to use at all).

Copyright Infringement

Copyright Infringement is what most people are referring to when most people scream "art theft" or "stealing" but of course "stealing" and infringement aren't the same thing.

Copyright is a bundle of five rights which are exclusive to the copyright owner. These rights include the right to reproduce, distribute, create derivative works based upon, preform and display the protected work.

The owner controls all of these functions, subject to certain limitations and exceptions built into the law.

For most people copyright infringement involves the posting of their work or the manipulation (or "blending" or "editing" or "rendering") of their work. In these cases your actual work has been taken and directly used in some fashion.

If you created a fan art upon an original artwork, you detain no copyright over the respective image and you have no right to scream *art theft* over someone who copyied/traced over a piece of fan art of yours.

There are a bunch of different ways which an infringement can occur but there are also exceptions and other situations where infringement might not be occurring so it is really important that you recognize when actual infringement has occurred and that you know how to proceed to remedy the problem (hint: mob action and death threats is not part of the procedure)

Plagiarism

Sometimes plagiarism and copyright infringement are the same thing; sometimes they are not.

A plagiarist is a person who poses as the originator or a work which they actually obtained from someone else; they claim to have come up with words they didn't really write, ideas they didn't think up, facts they didn't discover, etc, etc.

When you guys talks about people "stealing your ideas" you are talking about plagiarism.

Now copyright infringement and plagiarism aren't always the same thing. For the purpose of plagiarism the material "stolen" doesn't have to be protected by copyright and the plagiarist cannot be sued for copyright infringement if all that they take are unprotected ideas or facts or things which can be considered to be in the public domain.

If someone were to take and submit one of your original works to deviantART and claim it as their own work, that person would be considered to be a plagiarist as well as a copyright infringer.

If someone were to take and submit your original work but not claim it as their own they would simply be committing copyright infringement.

If that same person were to take and submit the Mona Lisa they would not be committing copyright infringement (because the Mona Lisa is in the public domain) but if they claimed that it was their own painting then they would be considered a plagiarist.

Copying

Aside from plagiarism, which is essentially copying while taking credit, we have just plain old copying.

Just like with the comparison between copyright infringement and plagiarism, simple copying is not necessarily either of those and this is where things get really, really confusing.

Artists have been copying from each other since the dawn of time but copying isn't always plagiarism and it also doesn't necessarily equal copyright infringement either.

Copying usually becomes copyright infringement when the copying is "verbatim"; the entire work is copied and copied exactly. There is usually no doubt that infringement has happened when two works are essentially identical in every way.

If there has only been "substantial" copying involved, with the works being obviously similar but not exactly the same it can become harder to have a valid claim of infringement, even more when the works are only superficially similar.

The main problem with copying is that the underlying idea behind your work, lets say a wolf howling at the moon in a dark forest, isn't protected under copyright.

Your exact rendition of the idea is protected and copyrighted to you, but anyone anywhere is free to use that idea in their own work, and many will do so without ever seeing your work and it is entirely possible that the works could simply share superficial similarities by coincidence without any copying having occurred.

Try Googling "wolf howling at the moon" and check the image results to see the sort of superficial similarities I'm talking about.



If you managed to follow all of this you'll hopefully carry away some notion of how nuanced and laced with subtleties these issues are in reality; something which the Black-or-White proclamation of "art theft" completely fails to acknowledge.

It's the biggest reason I'd love to see the community abandon use of that phrase (along with "stealing") and adopt some of the terms I've discussed here. I think once we do we might be able to see a lessening of some of what you could call "batshit insane" reactions people have to situations which don't necessarily call for such a highly dramatic reaction.

We've got millions of artists here and we get ten times that many visitors so it's high time we all started to better understand the issues which affect us as a community; we're all creative people here and we draw our inspiration from other artists even if we don't do it deliberately.

We can all probably name one person we know of who got "popular" here by copying the work of some other little-known artist and not bothering to credit them (plagiarism) and for every one of those people we can probably name five others who have obviously copied and "borrowed" ideas from works they've seen, not to mention the chronic problem of copyright infringement which is practically built into Internet use.

Famous plagiarists that i know: J.K. Rowling to name one. Though this didn't stopped people to love her characters and buy her books.
Another one is George R.R. Martin who integrated in his books an entire book of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Hawkmistress! respectively. But nobody cares as long as Martin's books are hella entertaining. This doesn't make him less a plagiarist.
And to conclude, here is a list of really famous artists that copied, and they are not less famous because of that (example Picasso, Degas, Cezanne..):

www.redbubble.com/people/blyth…

Also you should read this journal: fourteenthstar.deviantart.com/…
Explains very well and in detail what is dA policy about tracing!

UPDATE!

1.J.K. Rowling's plagiarism case:
greenbooks.theonering.net/gues…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Po…
www.examiner.com/article/j-k-r…

There is plenty of material outthere that discuss the argument. Go and do a serious search without being a fanboy. I love Rowling and her books, this doesn't mean she did not copyied.

2.This applies to G.R.R. Martin as well; who did not read both authors/books cannot understand what i'm talking about. It's pointless to post links.

3.The link versus the famous artists that copied or traced photos is just one of many. I learned this in school, that was just an example.
The pictures does not belong to the respective artists, they were used as references. If you do a search you will be surprised to discover how many of them copyied.
You would want to give a watch to this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd-dqU…

I'm not gonna bother to answer to each of the comments. Google exists for this purpose, is an awesome tool, use it!
If you are an avid reader you don't need anyone to tell you what did you read is real or fake.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconscn71402:
scn71402 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Shortly:
Copyright Infringement=unauthorized use of someone else's artwork
Plagiarism=claiming someone else's work as your own
Copying=making same work by your own means (fanart etc).

Moreover, the "art theft" hysteria is one of the reasons why I dislike deviantart and ceased uploading stuff here. While all my stuff is only outsourced Creative Commons-licensed oekaki, I understand people trying to complain on unauthorized use or misuse of credits. But in no ways it's theft. If it would be theft, it might be only for traditional art and artisan crafts (original, non-replica), like trying to actually steal the paper/stuff instead of uploading pics somewhere else.
Reply
:iconrynkimi:
Rynkimi Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014
How nice your gallery proves this journal.
Reply
:iconcomraxe:
Comraxe Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014   Digital Artist
This person is a huge hypocrite. I don't know why people are giving her so much attention for this.
Go to her gallery and check it out, the only image she has is stolen lol

Apart from that, she claimed she didn't need evidence that the artwork was hers because we are not admins. 
This is golden, I'm tellin ya. 

Purple night by Nannana
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:iconj0w3x:
J0W3x Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
is that even true ?! :O if so, then I've never laughed that hard. No offense to anyone though, it's just that she (or he?!) completely loos its credibility now... :/ 
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:iconcomraxe:
Comraxe Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014   Digital Artist
People who talk big also tend to be the biggest hypocrites :XD:
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:iconj0w3x:
J0W3x Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
hahaha, true sometimes. xD
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:iconcuppycakekitty:
cuppycakekitty Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thank you for explaining but i need someone to help me understand this. (and you aren't going to, which i think is SO rude.) are you saying its not your art if you make something that references a copyrighted thing?(AKA an FC, a fanfic, fanart, etc...) i just need to be sure. so, if you hand drew a picture of a character from a TV show (without tracing, reference,etc...) does that mean you have no authority over it? would someone please explain? i would like to know. thank you. :)
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:iconsvenjaliv:
SvenjaLiv Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
She's wrong about that. Fan art absolutely is your art. There's a difference between owning the picture, and owning the characters or whatever that are depicted in it. So, for example, if you draw a picture of Harry Potter, you don't own the character of Harry Potter, but you do own that picture. The people who do own the character of Harry Potter would not be able to simply take and use your picture, they'd need your permission. So if someone does take it without your permission, you absolutely would be right to go after them and call it "art theft" because that's what it would be. Hope that makes sense!
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:iconcuppycakekitty:
cuppycakekitty Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thank you! i completely agree. :)
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:iconwisp-night:
Wisp-Night Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Actually... no. It might be nice to think that (and obviously, within deviantART, it's hard not to since there's so much of it), but it's not true. 

You see, companies do retain rights for their intellectual property. But they let fan art slide because it actually boosts their revenue. This may seem like I'm actually agreeing since, either way, it means you get to continue drawing their characters. But if Hasbro or any other company decided to take you to court for drawing their characters, even if it is just fan art... you'd lose =(.
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:iconcuppycakekitty:
cuppycakekitty Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i know. and they have all rights to. but what about people that traced a drawing of *random character*?
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:iconwisp-night:
Wisp-Night Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you mean original when you say random, then it would be copyright infringement (as said in the words of the deviant). It could also be plagiarism if they claimed it as their own.

If you actually mean fan art by random... then that's a bit tough. The artist him/herself doesn't have the copyright protection, but the type of art they made is theirs. In fact, it's very hard to say. It's a grey area where you could either swing the axe and say both parties are infringing on copyright (one of intellect and the other of physical), you could give a lot of tough love and name fan art creator as an a violator and not really do anything to the tracer (depends on if they changed their work so that it isn't apart of any media -- an "original" character of their own), or you could just ignore both and leave everything as it is. It seems deviantART chooses the latter action, though I haven't seen enough of their policy in action for this opinion to be valid (don't quote be on it). But, either way, I'm sure people will flame the tracers regardless.

Judging from all the other comments, I understand why they don't want to acknowledge any of the words in this journal. I mean, the only picture in her gallery may very well be stolen work. This in itself is a bit iffy considering that, just because you found a piece on Google that was posted elsewhere much earlier than the upload on dA doesn't mean s/he stole it. It might just mean that she decided to post on dA after posting it elsewhere (possibilities). I'm more than certain that some other deviant has already looked into that and can tell me if I'm right or wrong.

As for the journal... yeah. No one wants to listen to a potential hypocrite.... doesn't really make the words themselves invalid. It just makes the deviant an invalid source.
Reply
:iconcuppycakekitty:
cuppycakekitty Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i don't want to start fighting or something so lets just not continue this. but thank you for you're opinion. good bye.
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:iconminakie:
Minakie Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
dA team actually tried to explained this topic a while ago. They made a wonderful article, which includes a live interview at ComicCON, which can be found here.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconwisp-night:
Wisp-Night Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I didn't realize what I said was worthy of starting a fight >.>.... I never really mentioned my own opinion.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconwisp-night:
Wisp-Night Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
*name the fan art creator as a violator

*don't quote me on it

Sorry, my typos bothered me.
Reply
:iconmystic-libra:
Mystic-Libra Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014
First i don't think she's being rude. I think you aren't giving her enough time to reply back to you..
Secondly to answer your very confusing way of asking "if i draw something that is fanart do I own the copyright". answer is no.

Fanart is just that. Fanart.. If you draw for example Twilight from MLP (like the user she's referring to in her journal).. and someone reposts it or steals it or traces it.. you get mad and claim thief.. well you don't have the right because you have no legal right to... the character itself isn't yours. the drawn image maybe yours but you still don't own the copyright..

Now if you drew something completely from scratch.. using a pose picture as a reference and provided credit to the reference image and the image you drew has no fantart whats-so-ever.. then you do own the copyright..

When it comes to fanart.. no one can say they own the copyright because the character themself doesn't belong to them. Just because you drew the fanart doesn't mean you have the same rights as the copyrighted holder.
Reply
:iconsvenjaliv:
SvenjaLiv Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
Actually, if someone traces or steals your fan art, you absolutely do have a right to call them a thief, because that's what they are. The character may not belong to you, but the image you've drawn does. The copyright of the image itself belongs to you. The copyright of the character depicted does not.

If what you say were the case, which it isn't, then that would mean if I drew a picture of Twilight from MLP, the original creators of MLP would own my drawing and they'd be able to use it however they want. But they don't own it, and they can't use it. Not without coming to an arrangement with me about it. Because the image itself is mine.

So, if someone steals someone else's fan art, then they ARE infringing on that person's copyright. And if they then sell that fan art, they could be sued by both the artist who owns the copyright to the image, AND the original creator who owns the copyright to the character.
Reply
:iconcuppycakekitty:
cuppycakekitty Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i just put this on. what do you mean not enough time to reply? she said herself that she wasn't going to reply to ANY comments and i just commented that i thought that was rude. sorry.

i was just trying to explain what i meant. im sorry if i confused you. also i meant the drawing. not the character. the drawing. just to make that clear. also im not trying to be mean in any way, but it sounds like you're saying that because someone doesn't own Twilight you can trace their pictures of Twilight. i'm confused.
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:iconkaboom360:
kaboom360 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
So. Very. True. Thanks for explaining!
Reply
:iconsvenjaliv:
SvenjaLiv Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
Not very true, actually. OP has the wrong definition of plagiarism, and she's also wrong about the fan art thing. I'd advise you to do your own research into this stuff and don't take this journal as fact, because it really isn't.
Reply
:iconkaboom360:
kaboom360 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
... I guess some part of this is true.
Reply
:iconblue-midnight-angel:
Blue-Midnight-Angel Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for explaining. :)
Reply
:icondrawing-24-7:
Drawing-24-7 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I hate when someone says that they only referenced something when they flat out copied it.
Reply
:iconletterw:
letterw Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
this journal is a joke 
Reply
:iconmaveree:
Maveree Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
"If you created a fan art upon an original artwork, you detain no copyright over the respective image and you have no right to scream *art theft* over someone who copyied/traced over a piece of fan art of yours."

Yeah, try telling that to professional artists who cover commissions from official companies. Man, you've got one skewed view of right and wrong. While you're at it, how about you pull down the image you stole and put in your gallery claiming you drew? Ouch. Being a hypocrite sure does sting, dun'it?
Reply
:iconch3karma:
CH3Karma Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014   General Artist
Thanks for this.  I have yet to read it all, but too feel it need be something artist should know, or at least understand a bit about.  I faved it to not just read the rest, but to as well help to get the your words to others. :) 
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:iconheminder:
heminder Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Professional
No mention of copyleft. I am disappoint.
Reply
:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Good point. :devart: relies heavily on Creative Commons, but there are several others including OSF (which now promotes CC)
Reply
:iconpoweroptix:
PowerOptix Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you mentioned this as I was unaware of copyleft until you did. :p
Reply
:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Good article, although it lacks a reference to the Berne Convention of 1887, which dictates international copyright law. 
"Authors from whom others steal should not complain, but rejoice. Where there is no game there are no poachers."- Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

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:iconarbhin:
arbhin Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014   Artist
Good topic. Well said too. 
Reply
:iconandvili:
Andvili Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The author of this incorrectly defines several things and is an art thief themselves. It's unwise to consider anything written here the truth.
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:iconarbhin:
arbhin Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014   Artist
Well, the concept of art copy, and copyright is a tough field. 
And the text that is written here is true. 
The interpretation about it might differ. Some people find it within their own right to use other persons ideas and concepts. So, always keep an eye out for copies of your art. On the second thought: A real art-thief would not post on Deviantart when he or she had done so. That would of course be very unwise.
Reply
:iconsvenjaliv:
SvenjaLiv Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
Yeah, real art thieves do post on DeviantArt. Case in point, I found one of my drawings in someone else's gallery before, and they claimed it was theirs.
Reply
:iconarbhin:
arbhin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014   Artist
You sign your work, right? By signature and date-stamp your work can be returned back to you. 
Of course there are people seeingly 'clever' to recreate the signature and date. 
Its a pity that those people would not use their qualities for their own work. As flattering as it might be that someone likes your work so much that it is worth stealing for. 
Reply
:iconsvenjaliv:
SvenjaLiv Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014  Professional General Artist
Yeah, I sign and watermark my work, but some art thieves crop out the signature or watermark. So yeah. In terms of flattery, honestly, it's the worst kind of compliment. If someone stole my modded car because they liked it so much, my anger about the theft would far outweigh any flattery I might feel that they liked my work. :P It's the same with art. There are far, far better ways to compliment an artist than to steal their work. Stealing is disrespectful, and disrespectful compliments are worthless.
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:iconarbhin:
arbhin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014   Artist
Of course. Wouldn't please me either. I was just saying. 
There is of course no excuse what so ever against any kind of theft.
Reply
:iconandvili:
Andvili Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Real art thieves DO post here. Case in point? The author herself.
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:iconarbhin:
arbhin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014   Artist
One of the problems with art is how to see, or say when an object, either a painting, or movie, or sculpture, really belongs to someone. Of course with the large paintings, like Picaso and Van Gogh it is quite obvious, though even those paintings have been copied and sold for real. 
I do not defend any copy-cat with this. I'm as much an artist as any other of you and I would be quite dissapointed if I would see my hard work without my name at someone elses profit. 
As a musician one of the main protections against stealing is the old 'post-safe' methode. Self-address an enveloppe and post the original scores to yourself. Keep in mind to not open the post when it arrives. But the stamp-date is your prove that the work is from said date and therefore truly yours. 
Name and date your work is another way to protect (to some degree) your work. 
Directly another question comes to mind: If you do not sign your work, is it therefore directly open for other people to copy and participate on it?
Reply
:iconandvili:
Andvili Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Post-safe is not a valid form of copyright, it never has been.

According to the Berne Convention, the second you finish a work you own the copyright, signed or unsigned.
Reply
:iconarbhin:
arbhin Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014   Artist
But there is no way to proof it is your own. The post-safe is a way to proof the date of the work. At least, in music it is. There is no question you have copyright on anything you create. But it is all about proofing it actually is. And about saving your own work against copy-cats. 
But its a tough field. And like I said: any lawyer will get headaches about this field of area. 
But I am no professional within laws. I hope some professional might be able to say anything more about this. 


Reply
:iconandvili:
Andvili Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Lawyers? On dA? Not likely. :/
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:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I assume you can substantiate this accusation? Most of what is written makes pretty clear sense to me. The only statement I have an issue with is:"If you created a fan art upon an original artwork, you detain no copyright over the respective image and you have no right to scream *art theft* over someone who copyied/traced over a piece of fan art of yours." I'm not sure that's correct, I believe that you do retain the copyright on your creation, however you expose yourself to being sued by the copyright owner of the subject matter. Litigation over the other having traced your image would automatically bring the original owner into the fray, or risk having their subject matter declared public domain. 
Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
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:iconandvili:
Andvili Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Google image search the sole image of the author's gallery. You'll find it on no fewer than 10 sites, all dated prior to her upload.

As for fan art, you have copyright on YOUR PIECE, therefore you can get pissed at people copying you. Fan art is protected under the Berne Convention, if I understand it correctly (I may not). However, the original owners retain the copyright on materials -they- produce and the -trademark- of the characters themselves.
Reply
:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll investigate the image when I have more time, but I might point out that I have images in my gallery that I drew in the 1980ies, and they could easily be on a dozen other sites predating my arrival on :devart: 
As to the rest, I believe that we are saying the same thing. :-)
Reply
:iconwinterkate:
winterkate Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Student Writer
Nope, this article is pretty incorrect. It can be seen in other comments, but basically [s]he paints theft with much too wide a brush,drawing influence into it where really, influence is inevitable and impossible to litigate. 
Reply
:icon914four:
914four Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't know, when I was researching "fair use" around including three verses of a song to use in "The Kentauride," what I encountered did not disagree that much with the text above. I tried to get permission to use the words, but the artist and/or production company never responded to my queries. Did you watch the TED talk video: www.deviantart.com/users/outgo… ?
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:iconwinterkate:
winterkate Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Student Writer
You were talking about actually copying, though - using the exact words of the text - and you went about it fairly and rightly. She accuses J.K. Rowling and others, however, of stealing for not crediting their sources, when in reality they did not draw parallels closely enough to warrant credit.
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