Be inspired, Be creative, Be original

With the recent passing to law of copyright provisions affecting our very livelihood, there are areas of concern and confusion that exist surrounding the wording and some of the terms used. Dramatic events over the past months have brought to light the misuse of intellectual property, in the form of blog posts, contest entries, and image handling techniques. Numerous contest reversal decisions have occurred in the World Press, National Geographic, Samsung and within our own PPOC Salon.

Copied blog posts and website information have also been challenged publicly, with material used from others without the author’s knowledge or permission. The World Press and National Geo decisions were based on image handling violations, with the others involving plagiarism and copyright issues. Wording such as Fair Use, Derivative Artwork, Transformative Techniques and others are to be found in much of the discussions, with the Fair Use provision likely of most concern to us here in Canada. Essentially, it allows for the duplication of copyrighted materials for personal reasons, and was inserted into the Canadian Legislation as a protection mechanism for the voting public. That is an important distinction to remember, as other uses lie within the realm of copyright violation or plagiarism. Seth Resnick, founding president of the the Editorial Photographers Association, and industry spokesperson for artists rights, describes the difference between the two:

“Plagiarism is using someone else's work without giving proper credit, with a failure to cite adequately. Copyright infringement is using someone else's creative work, which can include a song, a video, a movie clip, a piece of visual art, a photograph, and other creative works, without authorization or compensation, if compensation is appropriate. Schools enforce plagiarism and the courts enforce copyright infringement.” Jay Maisel was the center of controversy a few years back, in successfully defending his copyright of a Miles Davis album image, which was subsequently used as the basis for artwork on a different project.

The distinctions between Derivative / Transformative and Fair use would be a lengthy topic, however are all discussed within the commentary here:
 Essentially, it outlines that the resulting image was not a new or derivative creation, that the original photograph was the substantial basis for the resultant artwork, and that the offender was not entitled to any fair use consideration.

 There is a line that exists between being inspired to creativity by the work of others, and improperly attributing the words of another or creating artwork that is not original. The former can be part of our own natural creative process, the latter is an infringement of someone else’s creativity. So as professionals within our industry, whether within imagery or as dialogue on our blogs - Be inspired, be creative, be original. Craig Minielly, MPA PPOC Copyright Chair Aura Photographics


Well detailed and well put, Craig. Glad we have you on board as Copyright Chair.