Thursday, January 17, 2008

All Hear This!!! - Terms of Use/License to Use Your Project


Thank you for your continued voting in our poll! Keep it up and encourage your friends to do the same. The information is valuable and will help us help you! As well, keep up the comments and don't be afraid to make your comments public. Your comments and questions help others!

This blog will start to tackle a common yet misused tool in the Intellectual Property Toolbox - the Licensing Terms, Terms of Use, Fine Print, or Words That No One Reads. Everyone has seen the statements on some artwork, books, fabric or the like. They are statements such as:

"For Personal Use Only"

"Not for Commercial Sale"

"The projects in this book are for personal use only and may not be mechanically produced in any form."

Here's a great definition from Wikipedia:

Where intellectual property is concerned, Terms of Use may be set up in order to let an audience know specifically what can and cannot be done to the work with or without the creator's permission. For written work, terms of use may say that it cannot be distributed by email or other means. Artistic works may stipulate a requirement for compensation in the way of payment, advertising, artist credit and/or other items or services.

Why Have Such a Statement?

A Terms of Use Statement helps both the creator and the purchaser. The creator can sell instructions, designs, products and the like to a purchaser without having to worry (in theory)

The Perfect Statement

There is one misconception that should be cleared up immediately. There is no "magic statement" or "perfect statement." The best statement or Terms of Use is one that tells the purchaser or user exactly what can or cannot be done with your work or creation. Any statement that clearly lists what the purchaser can and/or cannot do with your creation (or a derivative of the creation) is your "perfect statement."
No Statement at All
Many times a purchaser will only see the copyright statement on a creation that is purchased. That is particularly entertaining on a "How to" book or piece of fabric. If one wishes to be SUPER technical - without permission, a person cannot display, use, or create derivative works from a copyrighted work.
I know...that sounds silly. YES! I'm telling you that if you buy a book on how to make something but the author or copyright holder does not give you permission to make the item or follow the instructions you can only read the book. HOWEVER, HOLD ON.
While it is not a true legal term, the argument is always that there is an "implied" license for a person who purchases a how to book to make the project. That only seems fair. Should that implied license also go to re-selling the book? There is a law that says in MOST circumstances one can resell the work once it is sold to them (First Sale Doctrine). What if the artist or creator does not wish for the item to be re-sold on ebay, but doesn't care about anywhere else???
While there are unique circumstances for every creation and every artist, there is one item that remains the same....TERMS OF USE. In this day and age, you can't install a computer program without agreeing to them, you can't watch a movie without seeing them....why shouldn't you own or use a copyrighted work without them?!
Very soon we are going to put up on our website a collection of Terms of Use statements. I recently became intrigued by them when I was at the hospital getting an X-Ray and the sticker they gave me that said "I WAS A GOOD PATIENT" had a great Limited License or Term of Use statement. It is true, I'm always thinking about this this stuff.
REMEMBER, Vote! And Don't Forget to Leave Your Questions!
Create with your Heart and Your Head!


ArtKat said...

Hi Tammy,

I'm a project designer for the arts/crafts industry. I have heard you speak at SCD seminars, and I read your message on the CHA designers discussion list, so I thought I'd come by and vote. I appreciate the information you provide here. I bookmarked your blog, I know I will be back!
Thanks, take care!

Tammy L. Browning-Smith, J.D., LL.M said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad I could help you as you helped me by voting...THANK YOU! I'm thrilled you've heard me speak and you'd still be willing to "come back" and get more information. Don't hesitate to suggest topics for blogs and thank you again!

Kim said...

BINGO. This is exactly what my question pertained to.


This is the terms of use statement of an artist I would like to buy some stamps from.

Here's my question - how does this apply to my finished artworks? May I not reproduce/resize in whole or in part my work incorporating them for a soldered piece , for example? Or create then scan a background paper for repeated use that I'm pleased with?

If you can answer this question or direct me to the correct information I would be very
grateful , 'cause I'm not finding it using my own terminology. I did put a question into the seller , but would like to know what my legal rights are regarding my work from someone other than her , lol.

I have 'heard' that I am entitled to reproduce a finished artwork incorporating copywritten materials (stamps or images from collage sheets), and re-size or make prints and sell , but I'd like to see that verified.

I know I'm more or less asking for free legal advice here but again - if you could even give me terms to search on my own with , it would help. From what I've gathered terms of use are specific to the individual - perhaps I need info specific to my finished work?

I'm sorry this is so long - I hope you can help , if not I'll enjoy your blog and glean what I can anyway lol. And what's a CHA?

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

The Fine Print!

Since there may be legal discussions going on...there must be a disclaimer!

This blog is for educational and information purposes only. It does not constitute the practice of law. The attorney who writes this blog is only licensed in the State of Ohio and Michigan. There is NO attorney-client relationship of any type. You must sign appropriate documenation and have appropriate new client counseling to be a client of Browning-Smith, P.C. Each and every situation is different and all readers must seek his or her own legal counsel. The information on this blog is not guaranteed for any purposes nor is it to be relied on.