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    can someone please explain to me the laws regarding graphic rights. i am working for a client that wants to ensure that the logo i made for his can be copyrighted and is not an infringement. i am a little skeptical because part of the logo includes a tree. for the tree i found a picture on the internet (pretty sure it came from a search of "trees" on google images). the pic was a jpeg of a scenery shot with a tree in it. i took it into photoshop...took out all the just the tree was there...and black and whited it. then took it into illy and vectorized it so that the tree was an outline. cut and trimmed here and there....rotated a little....etc. basically made vector edits so it looked good. then i incorporated it into a logo. want to make sure that i am no infringing on whoever took the original picture. the tree i a bit different from the tree in the fact it looks kinda generic....but just want to make sure. can someone give me the rundown of graphic rights. would really appreciated it. i have include a pic of the logo...would appreciate any critiques as well.
    Its not "Mitch-ed" stupid....its Me-Show.

  • #2
    dont know why the pic didn attach. let me try again.
    Attached Files
    Its not "Mitch-ed" stupid....its Me-Show.


    • #3
      hehe, I was going to say have the client consult an attorney on trademark search....

      Since you took a random photo off a google search - that was your first mistake. Everything from that point on is called a derivative work of the original and yes it is copy right infringement.

      An original logo is copyrighted by the artist that created it. Normally the artist signs all copyrights to the owner of the logo. This is why true logos cost so much.

      However to prevent another person using simular logos, the logo should be registered trademarked.

      Unless you have a legal person that does trademark searches to compare your design to every single logo design ever registerd, then I would suggest telling your client that "Although I have created this original design for your logo, I do not have the resources to do a trademark search. I cannot guarantee that it is not simular to other logos out there." And have that in contract. After all - how many logos do you think has a palm tree in it? Trademark searches can be a lengthy and spendy process, most local business don't care until someone comes knocking at their door. Unfortunately this ignorance could result in heafty court fees and possibly jail time.

      Never, ever, ever use a jacked image from online or anywhere else. You are just opening yourself up to a whole can of legal issues that is easily avoided.

      More info can be found at
      Check out the FAQ section for a lot of common misconceptions and answers.


      • #4
        I'm a little confused on this issue. Where is the line between using reference images to draw from, and creating a derivative work from a copyrighted image? In this case, I agree that it is infringement because the original image was used as the art, and modified. But, what if Caleb had traced the tree and then mucked around with it to stylize, would that make it his? Or what if he looked at 3 or 30 different palm tree images and then drew one himself? These are areas of copyright that I have wondered about for a while and this seemed like a good thread to ask in.
        Think of me as programmable soda.
        Tori Amos


        • #5
          if you use a reference that is fine as long as you are not copying elements directly from the refrence.

          For example you have three photos of palm trees. From one you trace the palms, from another you trace the leaves from another you trace the coconuts. This does not make an original image, this is a derivative of all three images.

          However if you have the three photos and you independantly draw an image of a palm tree then yes, that is an original concept that is entirely yours. Again as long as it is not a reproduction of any part of those photos.

          After all if someone asked me to draw a tabby cat for a cat sitting business, I would look at quite a few photos of cats for positions, perspective, etc - but my drawing/illustration would be entirely original because I would not reproduce a photo as an illustration.

          reproduce photo or image (even traced, cropped, stylized, warp or manipulated in any way) = derivative work

          referencing photos or images then making your own different illustration that you cannot overlay on the orginal for matching aspects = original concept

          This also has some examples of blantant rips.


          • #6
            Thank you!! I researched this but I found the US Copyright website to be really hard to get any solid info from.
            Think of me as programmable soda.
            Tori Amos


            • #7
              thanks for everyones comments. still not really clear though. so at what point do i, by adding anchor points, subtracting anchor points, moving anchor points, altering the paths, do i make an image not deravitive. what happens if i add shape to it. the palm tree i have used and the palm tree from the jpg...are similar but different. caleb
              Its not "Mitch-ed" stupid....its Me-Show.


              • #8
                i have attached the original photo i went off of.
                Its not "Mitch-ed" stupid....its Me-Show.


                • #9
                  sorry here is the pic
                  Attached Files
                  Its not "Mitch-ed" stupid....its Me-Show.


                  • #10
                    Since you have traced, stylized and manipulated a photo and did not draw this yourself, then yes, technically it is a derivative work.

                    Am I law on this - no - but in your head do you really want to take a chance with a lawyers logo as even possibly infringing on someones photo? I'm not going to turn you in, but only posted information to let you make that decision.

                    Your initial image and this photo look nearly enough identical to be a clear stylized copy. IMO.


                    • #11
                      so, what if this is your own photo of the palm tree, or the cat (meepers for instance) and you do this...are you ok there?...

                      except, of course, if the image isn't of a copyrighted thing like the eiffel tower or a van gogh painting...that's still not ok...
                      Monarchs Rule!


                      • #12
                        If you trace a photo you took, that's ok. You own the rights to the photo.

                        And believe it or not you can trace or copy a Van Gogh work, just not the photo of the Van Gogh work you may be using to trace it. The photo is copyrighted by the photographer who took it. The painting itself is in Public Domain. The trick in that case is to find a public domain photo of the public domain painting.

                        Now, is it the Eiffel Tower that is copyrighted? Or the lighting design being used on it? It's weird what may be copyrighted. If any of you know the Doughboy bronze statue that is at the start of the Boston Marathon, that is copyrighted and cannot appear in print. How would you know? Beats me.


                        • #13
                          if you own your photos, or if you purchased an illustration/photo with all rights to it, perfectly fine.

                          However, in a logo - it's a good idea that only images that can be trademarked are used. This discludes clipart, derivative works or any work that is usage based stock image unless the original artist is willing to sign off the rights to it.

                          This is different for normal design where stock images are being used. Those situations are for image use rights and generally the artist retains the rights to the work to sell to others as warrented. Stock images can also be assigned specific uses so that no manipulation of the image may occur or only applied to certain types of design.

                          It really all comes down to who owns it and if you have permission to use it.


                          • #14
                            Which is another reason why logos cost so much. Buying exclusive rights to stock art is very pricey. And why photographers cost so much to hire if they sign over rights upon payment.


                            • #15
                              so even if the photo isnt photos someone took on vacation....the person who took the photo as an inherent copyright?

                              what do you suggest i do this palm tree to make it undisbutably legal. start from scratch...make some changes etc.

                              Its not "Mitch-ed" stupid....its Me-Show.






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