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16 February 2008 @ 02:19 pm
Book Arts & Copyright  
Hi All,

One of our members posted a book based on The Little Prince, which has since been removed. But it raised an issue I think we all might want to know more about. I've just written a long post on it over at my blog. If you're interested, take a look over here.
Little soul, big worlditealaich on February 16th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
I think you're being kind when you say "based." I find it disgusting that the individual in question was selling someone else's artwork as their own.
writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
From the reply I got from her, when I pointed out she didn't own the copyright, it seemed clear she didn't have a clue about it. That's no protection legally, but "I found it on the internet, therefore it must be free" is a common (mistaken) response to this. That's why I wrote the post.
Gillian: Loolahmaleficent on February 16th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
I hadn't noticed that the previous poster was actually trying to sell the book. Bad enough that it was a rip off, but to sell it too?? It's book piracy!

I admire your ability to write a reasoned and restrained post about it, especially after the frankly weird response from the poster.
writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, though it only makes me makes me hopping made when my students do it or somebody does it to me. Easy to be reasonable when it doesn't directly affect you. :^)
vectorbvectorb on February 16th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
Not that im a fan of these kind of art projects, but at one point I knew an artist working with various printed media. And I asked her about this kind of thing and she said it is a bit of a fuzzy area, however as long as you make a significant change of the media, %10 change or more, then you were adding to the product and it was ok copyright wise, and when selling it you are not selling the original product, but what you added to it. Or something like that. I dont think its entirely clear cut.

And if the copyright was that solid, then more than half the art I see around town is in serious trouble, so dont be too quick to smack these projects down.
writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
I'm not smacking it down out of ignorance, believe me. As a writer, it's my business to know how much of someone else's work I can use without getting sued. Copyright isn't so fuzzy that you can reproduce the whole text and use at least some of the illustrations without paying for it. And ten percent is not a "significant change."

There's a lot of illegitimate pirating going on in every medium, including book arts and I think we need to educate ourselves about what fair use is.
(no subject) - autodidacticphd on February 16th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 17th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - autodidacticphd on February 17th, 2008 06:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buffenator on February 18th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 18th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
( ari )wherearethebees on February 16th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Did she use the text in full without citation? I didn't see the post.

However, I'm very interested in the subject as someone who studies appropriation in literature (both critically & artistically). Plagiarism or adoption? Copyright infringement or modification?

You seem to have a very harsh view on the topic (which is not necessarily bad, and - again - I didn't see the post). I'm interested (or frightened!) to know what you think of various appropriations in book form.
writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, she used the text in full and at least some of the illustrations. Citation is not an issue when that's the case. Full reproduction rights must be purchased from the copyright holder. In this case, that's the publishers and not the author, who renewed his copyright after he died.

As for appropriation, there are lots of different kinds. I'm not against fair use at all. I'm not against taking an image, for instance, and using it as part of your own work. But that's not what happened here. The only thing that was changed was the format of the book. The content was, in this case, (and yes, I'm going to be harsh here because that's how it's viewed legally) stolen. Just changing the published format of a book does not constitute fair use. It's copyright infringement.
(no subject) - wherearethebees on February 16th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
vectorbvectorb on February 16th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah check this site out.

Not sure if its fully authoritative, but describes what I think is correct.


So i would say the particular book (and maybe a few others i have seen on here :cough:) would be what I would consider derivative works. Im not sure exactly how all that works though.
writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Derivative works can sometimes be okay, but you have to be careful. That's why I think appropriating book covers is kinda dubious. I'd hate to be the test case for that.
(no subject) - vectorb on February 16th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Rebobo Dfloatplane on February 16th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
i just don't see why anyone would take the chance... because if someone really wanted to sue you over copywrite, i'm pretty sure a massive publisher would be able to afford much better lawyers than the average artist.

if you aren't sure on the legalities of copywrite or copying (and yes, i think that what the person did was COPY) don't sell it.

writestufflee on February 16th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Students do it all the time in term papers, even in college. The Internet promotes the idea that everyone on it is free, when it isn't. Not that any of this is an excuse, but I see why it happens. I agree this case was a copy, and that ain't legal either.
(no subject) - autodidacticphd on February 16th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 17th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
GreyyGuygreyyguy on February 17th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
I missed the post, but I am curious about it. Did she make a copy of the book herself, or did she take apart a book she had owned, put it together again and put that up for sale? If the first, then yes- that is a violation of copyright. If the second, then she would be in the clear (assuming she was not claiming the content of the book as her own).
writestufflee on February 17th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
That's actually a misconception. Just because you own the book doesn't mean you own the copyright. Copy or original, it's still illegal to make a new book out of copyrighted material, whether you call it your own content or not.
(no subject) - greyyguy on February 17th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 17th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - greyyguy on February 18th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 18th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - greyyguy on February 18th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - writestufflee on February 18th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
S. Rain: artsrain on February 17th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this! As an artist, this comes up a lot and it is so frustrating.
seoulcat aka seoulsuzyborninjeans on February 17th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
Long, sorry
That was a very thought-provoking post.
I'd blame ignorance. I assumed by the bookmaker's reply that she was very young, and although it does not excuse her flippant answer, she probably wasn't aware of what she was doing.
Until I read your post I didn't know that copyright went into public domain 50 years after the author's death, I always assumed it was after the publishing date. I thought that was 'common knowledge' as well, so even the people who think they are well informed may not be.
I did know that 'Le Petit Prince' was protected (a doll company released a Petit Prince doll last year with a huge notice that they had obtained offical copyrights to do so) but it never occurred to me to actually check whether certain organizations and foundations took over copyrights and prevented their 'products' from going into public domain.
Which makes me wonder about Alice in Wonderland, the OZ series, Anne of Green Gables to name a few, which you see practically everywhere.

I'm curious as well. Unless it's corporate level where huge sales are involved, the internet really complicated things for the individual artists/writers/etc. Can you sue internationally? What if the person in question resides in a country without specific copyright laws? Or what if the laws are different? Or what can be done if a big company violates copyright of a "little" artist?
You'd think with all these questions people would just do their own original work but then another lengthy discussion can be made about 'what is original' so I'll let it drop.

Thanks again for the post.
writestufflee on February 17th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Long, sorry
You're right, the Internet does complicate things, since people seem to think anything found there is free for the taking. Yes, youc an sue internationally, but you have to be sure of the laws (and there are copyright laws just about everywhere books are published, even China, which pirates a lot of Western lit. But that depends on international agreements, too.) The only thing stopping little artist's from suing corporations is generally money, and that can be got around by bad publicity.

The best way to check if a book or text is still copyrighted is to go to copyright.com and search for it. If you've got a text you're fond of, snap it up quick before Barnes & Noble renews the copyright.
sugardr0p: [random] Peaceful Bridgesugardr0p on February 17th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
I saw the post you mentioned and my first thought wasn't of copyright laws, I simply thought it would have been a much nicer project had she not taken every single element from the book and used it in her own, basically republishing the original as you said in your post. I'm new to bookmaking and I admit that I never gave copyrights much thought, but her comment to you was sort of rude. If I had been in her place I would have removed my post and thanked you for letting me know.

Also, I'm curious about something. Lately I've seen a lot of people using bookcovers from children's books as covers for their journals, but using plain paper, their own art, etc. for the fill. Are they considered derivative works or a violation of copyright?
buffenatorbuffenator on February 18th, 2008 06:20 am (UTC)
If they have permission from the publisher or the original artist, no violation. If they at least cite the artist, maybe on the inside of the cover, probably no violation.

I use post cards as cover art on a lot of my journals, especially Amy Brown fairies. Now, since I've purchased the post cards, I've paid the licence fee attributed to them, and on the inside of the back cover I have a little placard saying "Cover Art copyright Amy Brown" and the link to her web site. The placard goes right under my mark. I have different ones for different artists I use. It lets the world know I'm not claiming the art as mine, just the book.
minouetteminouette on February 18th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the information and the fascinating discussion. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there about copyright and intellectual property. I knew that copyright in Canada extended for 50 years after the author's death, but had not considered that the holders of the copyright could and would renew it. We tend to be less litigious than our neighbours to the south (as well as having looser copyright laws). That said, I would never dream of reproducing a work of literature in its entirety and selling it. Copyright issues can be subtle and complex and require a lawyer to sort out, but copying a book in its entirety is pretty blatant (though I did not see the post in question). When I have seen book artists do so, they have usually selected something like Shakespeare's plays, which are safely in the public domain.

Also, Etsy has a copyright policy and a vested interest in preventing such errors in judgment amongst its sellers. It explicitly states that sellers are bound by their local laws and that it prohibits products which "infringe upon any third party's copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other proprietary or intellectual property rights or rights of publicity or privacy;"
(Anonymous) on September 22nd, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
well done
omg.. good work, guy
writestufflee on September 22nd, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
Re: well done
Actually, it's girl, but thanks anyway! :^)