How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask socrateaser Your Own Question

socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 34066
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
10097515
Type Your Intellectual Property Law Question Here...
socrateaser is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I was wondering if someone could fill me in on Fan Art law.

Resolved Question:

I was wondering if someone could fill me in on Fan Art law. I feel that I am not in the wrong doing this but I just want to make sure I stay within legal limits. I offer my personal services on a friendly basis. I offer anyone who is a fan or anything the ability to get themselves a custom printed image of their choice for their own personal use, all I ask is that they cover for my TIME, Materials used, as well as the shipping to get said item to them. I was wondering if I am OK to offer these services? I am not offering print services in bulk or mass quanties for Fan Art, I only make them per request. I do however have some samples on display to show people what they can get done. Am I ok offering my services like this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

17 U.S.C 106(2) protects an author's right to control works which are derived from an original work. For example, if you create an illustration of Harry Potter that looks nothing like the movie or book character, but has a lightening bolt scar and round rimmed glasses, and he is illustrated in a scene from one of the Harry Potter novels, then you could be committing copyright infringement based upon your derived artwork.

The counterargument is that if you are not using anything other than the "idea" of Harry Potter (i.e., a young wizard who wears glasses and has a scar on his forehead), then you are also not using any fixed expression of the idea -- and a fixed expression is what the copyright law protects -- not the idea.

Moreover, if your illustration is done for "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" (17 U.S.C. 107) -- and especially for parody, then that is fair use and you are not infringing on the original author's copyright.

Unfortunately, this issue has had no direct interpretation by the federal courts. However, I believe that it's fair to say that you could be infringing someone's copyright, dependent upon how heavily you use elements described by another author.

Hope this helps.

This issue has had very little legal interpretation.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Would I be ok offering my services to people who wish to print out their Fan Art without me getting into trouble for printing things that they might have chosen that may or may not be infringing? I just want to make sure that I am OK doing this since all I am offering is my time, shipping, and materials.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Copyright infringement is a "strict liability" offense. It's like getting a traffic ticket for speeding. You don't have to intend to speed or even be aware that you're speeding to suffer liability. The same is true of copyright infringement. Courts are generally more forgiving of innocent infringement, but it can still cost you a great deal of money -- even if all you do is reproduce the infringing party's work.

Obviously, if a creative work is not a direct copy of someone else's work, you may not be able to ascertain in advance that your actions are copyright infringement. Businesses, like FedEx Office purchase insurance to guard against innocent infringement. You may not be able to afford this sort of risk mitigation. If not, then it's up to you to try to understand the risk you face, by considering each individual job. There is no way that I nor anyone else can give you a one-size-fits all avoidance method -- other than to not print anything for anyone.

You must learn to make the judgment calls based upon the artwork and/or the artist who makes the request.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 34066
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and 2 other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Alex Reese

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2588
    Experienced in intellectual property law
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/sosolid007/2010-08-05_070536_Suitpic.jpg Alex Reese's Avatar

    Alex Reese

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    2588
    Experienced in intellectual property law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/scottymacesq/2009-6-10_221523_small.jpg Robert McEwen, Esq.'s Avatar

    Robert McEwen, Esq.

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    387
    Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/tswartz123/2010-02-08_225658_Tommy.jpg Thomas Swartz's Avatar

    Thomas Swartz

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    374
    Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    371
    I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/personwilt/2010-1-10_164828_person1.jpg Wilton A. Person's Avatar

    Wilton A. Person

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    339
    MBA, Experienced and Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BA/bart0358/2012-1-23_232424_1056.64x64.JPG BartEsq's Avatar

    BartEsq

    Researcher

    Satisfied Customers:

    192
    Juris Doctor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IP/ipesq/2012-1-9_164431_RetouchPortraitHighResCopy.64x64.jpg ipesq's Avatar

    ipesq

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    134
    Specializing in patent prosecution, trademark and copyright registration/enforcement.
 
 
 

Related Intellectual Property Law Questions