Copyright is arguably a most confusing term for many creative people. Copyright is not a trademark, logo or patent but intellectual property.  We are all inspired by other works.  But where is the line drawn between an original work and a derivative?

This excellent infographic and article by Ginger Davis Allman explains all.  The infographic is the same as what she wrote for polymer clay artists - just the title is different. It gives a clear overview on what is fair use, when copyright is applied and what is unethical practice. The flow chart design helps you decide.

The guidelines helps those who design and those who teach.  And also to bloggers like me!

The two main issues to consider are who owns the intellectual property and whether or not someone's sales (designs and tutorials) will be impacted.

Fair use is applied when I write about other designers and their tutorials or about products and books in my own words.  I do use their images. Proper credit and link backs are always included.  It is not necessary to ask beforehand but I think it is polite to do so.

Bloggers who share their free tutorials own the copyright. It is okay to tell others and write about it so long as proper credit and links are given (fair use).  It is also okay to use these tutorials for your personal use unless stated otherwise.  You do have ask if you wish to sell items made with the instructions.  Or if the tutorial is going to be distributed and used offline. It's better to use these tutorials to learn the basics and to create your own interpretations.

Remember Yael's unique wire knit technique?  While the technique cannot be copyrighted, her tutorials and  designs are. You cannot purchase a tutorial and teach it to others.  The derivative design I created and showed on that post is very different from her original and combines other wire techniques . This is why I am allowed to sell it if I wish.

Dori Csengri was the original creator of the soutache jewelry technique (see my post here).  As mentioned above, the technique cannot be copyrighted. Yet virtually no one credits her with the innovation. Probably mostly due to ignorance.  She told me in an email how this saddens her.  A citation is, as the guideline says, "kind, thoughtful and helpful but not legally necessary."

Social media is where images get shared.  This is a good thing as promotion is key for most. I often come across Pinterest pins with no links at all.  So make sure there are links or link paths so people can trace back to the origin.

One of the topics I cover in my jewelry photography webinar is on watermarks. These don't just demarcate your originality.  Having your brand name on the design photography means if someone shared your photo without a link, people can still figure out how to contact you by googling your shop name.  If you do NOT want your designs shared, then don't post them anywhere on the internet!!

One thing the infographic does not cover is how long copyright lasts.  This varies from country to country.  Ginger's article has links to international copyright. In the US, all works before 1923 are in the public domain.  For works created after 1977, copyright lasts the life of the author plus 70 years. More here. In Canada, copyright covers the life of the author plus 50 years except for photography and performance.

Do you have any other concerns?

Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips