DMCA Guidelines | Copyright Infringement (“Art Theft”, “Plagiarism”, “Appropriation”)
What is copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted creative work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. Most creative works are automatically copyrighted as outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. Though the technical and legal term is copyright infringement, “Art Theft” and “Plagiarism” are now common terms used when someone has taken or appropriated parts of creative works.
A common situation for GASR is when a user takes artwork or a photograph, appropriates it, and attempts to make a commercial profit by selling or distributing it. There are various forms of appropriation, such as: Heavily referencing, tracing, repainting, photobashing, etc.
Not all appropriation is wrong. Though controversial, copying works for personal projects is one of the various artistic practices used when perfecting or learning new techniques. The difference between copyright infringement and educational based learning is copyright acknowledgement, attribution, and permission. Without all three, you could be unknowingly committing copyright infringement.
What is considered a creative work protected by the DMCA?
Original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, artwork and architecture. It is important to note that copyright does not protect ideas, so two people creating an original creative work using similar ideas (Goth, Pastel, Anime, Pixel, etc.) is not copyright infringement.
How can I avoid copyright infringement?
The easiest way to avoid infringing on the rights of another individual is to assume that everything has a copyright attached to it if it’s not directly stated otherwise. You should always research the creative works you intend on incorporating in your projects, both personal and commercial. Most artists and photographers will state what you can and, in most cases, what you cannot do with their works clearly, while some may require that you request information about usage.
A common misconception is that artworks or photographs found on the internet via a website or search engine, like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, are free to use. This is false. All images on these search engines state that they may be subject to copyright. It is your responsibility to research that copyright if you intend to use the work in any capacity. The only creative works you are allowed to use freely without obtaining permission are those considered public domain, explained in the next section.
What is public domain?
Public domain is the state of belonging or being available to the public as a whole, and therefore not subject to copyright. It refers to creative works that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyrights and trademarks. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it or claim ownership over it.
There are four common ways that works arrive in the public domain:
- Expired Copyright: Click to view more information about expired copyrights.
- Copyright was not renewed.
- The work was dedicated to the public and entered into public domain by the author.
- Current copyright laws do not protect the type of work.
Most works will not fall under public domain until several decades after the work is initially created. If the work was created after the year 1924, it is safe to assume that it is not public domain and permission is mostly likely required. Just because you found it on the internet somewhere does NOT mean it is public domain. Do your research!
Examples of Copyright Infringement
A user is attempting to sell, or has sold, a copyrighted creative work owned by another without permission and attribution.
A user is attempting to sell, or has sold, a creative work that has been photobashed (“Frankensteined”) together using appropriated parts of copyrighted creative works owned by another without permission and attribution.
A user is attempting to sell, or has sold, a creative work that appropriates the copyrighted creative work of another by heavily referencing, tracing, repainting, or editing the original without permission and attribution.
What are the consequences of copyright infringement?
Consequences can vary depending on the degree of the infringement. While most infringement is dealt with quickly via a DMCA takedown request, some infringement can lead to legal action and hefty fines.
On GASR, we take all forms of copyright infringement seriously. Any members found to be infringing upon someone’s intellectual property rights/copyright, whether or not the individual being infringed upon is a member of our community, will receive disciplinary actions against their account, including: warnings, suspensions, and/or a permanent ban.
GASR has a legal obligation to provide any information we have at our disposal to those seeking legal reparations against another user at the court’s request. GASR is not responsible for any legal action taken against a member, legal fees, lost revenue, or defamation/libel.
What if someone is committing copyright infringement against me or another user?
If you believe in good faith that someone is using your content without authorization, please fill out our quick and easy DMCA Takedown Request form. This form can be filled out on a user’s behalf if given authorization. Please make sure you fill out the form completely to avoid delays in processing.
If you do not own the content being infringed upon and are not authorized to represent the owner of the content, please use the report button located directly on the content to send a report in to the staff team using the DMCA Violation reason. The more information you provide to us about the possible violation, the quicker we will be able to process it.