July '23

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5 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • J U L Y 2 0 2 3 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M C U S T O M G I F T S H ave you ever seen an image or a design you wish to copy since it's perfect for a project you are working on and will make it much easier to complete in a timely and cost-effective fashion? If so, you may have wanted to copy and paste it, or even use just a portion of it. Alternatively, have you produced a creative expression that speaks to you and others, but you are concerned that someone may rip it off. ere are steps you can take to protect a creative expression using copyright law (literally the law governing the "right to copy"). In turn, if you wish to copy from someone else's creative expression, be careful, that same copyright law has some prohibitions you should know about. Fair use or copyright infringement? If you are interested in copying even a portion of a creative expression of another, copying with attribution is not a loophole that avoids copyright infringement. In fact, providing attribu- tion may complicate matters because it may be used as evidence that your copying was willful or intentional, which could sub- ject you to higher penalties and damages in an infringement lawsuit. However, some creative expressions that are protected by copyright and made available for public use require that you provide proper attribution. For example, Creative Commons licenses often include a condition that requires the user to give proper credit, a link to the license, and indicate if any changes were made to the original creative expression. Also, be wary of the murky area of fair use. While certain copying can avoid claims of copyright infringement if they fall under the umbrella of fair use, whether or not a copying is fair use is extremely uncertain, unpredictable, and ultimately can only be determined by a federal court. at's not gener- ally worth the risk. Nor is there a magical percentage that can be copied that will avoid a claim of copyright infringement. A pragmatic rule of thumb is that if enough of a creative expression is copied that the owner can recognize it, then you have identified a risk. A further myth is that one can do some limited infringing copying without concern. Even a single infringing act, such The do's and don'ts of copyrights and licensing Michael Stewart is a named partner of Fishman Stewart PLLC, founded in 1996. In addition to his Juris Doctorate, Michael has a master's degree in engineering and an English degree. A recognized subject matter expert in his field, Michael is a frequent speaker on intellectual property protection and enforcement. Michael can be reached at mstewart@fishstewip. com or by calling him at 248-594-0633. To access white papers to help promote a better understanding of the creative process, visit To receive a free weekly newsletter providing a pop culture view of creativity, go to B Y M I C H A E L B . S T E WA R T, E S Q . Copyright Law FOR TODAY'S GRAPHICS PROFESSIONAL

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